Any item of high value requires time to form and create. Precious metals, like gold and silver, are the natural products of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years of geological phenomena. Careers are the same. Luckily for you and me, becoming a valuable and successful professional and building a great career only takes years, not centuries.
Time may seem like it’s on your side as a professional, but it’s still critical to use your time and energy wisely when working. Properly managing your professional growth ensures that your career continuously stays on an upward trajectory. Here’s how to do it.
Trust the process
Your career is a journey at times. But it’s a process. A process of learning new skills, meeting the right people, and turning your talents into technique. Like all processes, it takes time. Therefore, you must build your arsenal of professional skills, and make the right adjustments over time to stay on track. It starts with asking yourself the right questions.
Bark up the right tree
Are you willing to put forth the effort to become good - if not great - at your profession? The first step to leveling up your career growth is making the decision. If you’re not sure, what are you willing to get good at?
Some professionals have a hard time getting behind the “passion mindset” for their careers. Another method is to follow your contributions. Think back on the awards and positive feedback you’ve received at work. What’s the common discipline or skillset you possess that impresses others? Your accolades can be great hints on what areas to focus your career.
Play the right position
Picking between a specialist and a generalist is a hot topic. In truth, the answer depends. For some roles, a specialist can command a high salary, and be a powerful asset for their companies. An excellent example of this would be a Pulitzer-winning journalist, an excellent analyst, and anything in between. In other instances, being aware of a wide range of competencies can enable you to lead a team of specialists. Steve Jobs, and many other CEOs in highly technical industries are great examples of this.
If you’re at the beginning of your career, or just joined a new field in support, the best option for you at this time is to focus on production in your current position and developing a familiarity with the various functions that surround your workflow. With an appropriate amount of time and effort, you’ll soon be in a better position to decide if you are an optimal fit as a specialist, or if your career track is better served as a jack-of-many-trades.
Be careful not to get complacent, and remember to set goals that are just out of reach. This requires you to enhance your abilities, and grow.
Leave your comfort zone, one step at a time
Every role has its challenges. Once your skills become sharp enough, you can manage them. Spending too much time in the same position puts you at risk of hitting your ceiling and stagnating. One of the best remedies for stagnation is to step just outside of your comfort zone. Take on new internal projects. Or even throw your hat in the ring for a promotion, which would enable you to take on new responsibilities.
A new role may look like a daunting burden of a new set of responsibilities, but it’s your opportunity to invest in yourself and boost your career. Excellent career moves lie just inches out of your comfort zone. Do your best to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Professional Growth is in your hands.
Building a great career and professional life isn’t always an overnight process. It takes time, relationships, and constant improvement on your end. The good news is, all of these factors are at your fingertips hands. You are just one goal away from a big jump forward, and one opportunity away from becoming a heavyweight in your industry.
Your career, like anything of any value, requires time and effort to create. Commit yourself to your craft and professional growth, and you’ll be golden in no time.