This ever-changing world of ours is constantly coming up with obstacles we need to overcome. Add to that, we alone are more than enough to stifle our own growth when we harbor self-doubt or when we spend years working in less than healthy work environments.
Understanding that your career depends on so many factors is a great start to recognizing your own role in defining your success. In fact, the sooner you embrace your ability to determine how quickly you’ll advance or what makes a dream job for you, the easier it will become to reshape your own professional path.
Remember: thriving should not be the same as surviving. If you’re merely going through the motions and checking things off your to-do list, you’re likely not as happy in your career as you can be. To truly thrive as a professional, as a successful industry leader, you need to feel productive and fulfilled, not just busy.
Among many useful skills you can develop to grow more successful, there are a few that can directly help you thrive in your career. Let’s go over some of the simplest, but most powerful tips to reach that particular goal in life.
Ask for actionable feedback
“Keep up the good work” hardly speaks of your concrete contributions to the organization, right? This type of vague commentary is present in almost every workplace, and it can be difficult to root out, especially if people constantly seek nothing more than empty validation.
Of course, it’s great when someone acknowledges your hard work and talent, but you need more than that if you want to get a promotion, climb the proverbial ladder, or earn more in the future. Actionable feedback doesn’t come about on its own, in most cases. You need to ask for it from your manager or superior – or your own employees. Even as a leader, you still have ample room to thrive.
You do, however, need the right kind of constructive criticism from others to be able to correct your behavior, learn new skills, or implement new solutions. The keyword to look for is “actionable”. If you cannot act on it, it’s no feedback at all.
Build your soft skills
Whether you’re a business leader in a major IT corporation or a nurse in an overcrowded hospital, your soft skills will often determine how well you advance in every aspect of your career. Self-control, empathy, grace in accepting criticism – all of these skills help you thrive.
In addition to continuously investing in your professional development to master new skills and knowledge, you also need to work on your soft skills every single day. As much as you pay attention to correct procedures, you need to look at how you interact with people, what kind of atmosphere you’re creating, and if you’re setting a good example.
Observe yourself in different situations to see what you can do better. Are you a good listener? Do you know what kind of follow-up questions to ask?
Have you ever felt overwhelmed because of a tight deadline? Perhaps there’s a way you can manage your time more effectively and avoid burnout.
Do you easily succumb to distractions such as social media? Maybe logging out during work will help you focus, get more done, and notice opportunities that you’d otherwise miss.
Do you notice when people around you are not satisfied or merely on edge? It’s vital to set the tone of your workplace that will empower both you and your teams, and your attitude will greatly affect that.
Embrace the learning curve
The finest leaders and successful workers in any field are the ones who never turn down an opportunity to learn something new. They don’t perceive themselves as all-knowing, so they gravitate towards opportunities to expand on what they do know. This is especially prevalent in fields such as medicine, where lives are at stake, and not just another poor customer review.
EMTs, nurses, and physicians feel an ethical obligation to continue mastering and implementing the latest in advanced or pediatric life support care, CPR, or the most cutting-edge OR procedures. They don’t shy away from learning. In fact, even in times of crisis of this magnitude, they look for online certifications that can enhance their knowledge when traditional classrooms are out of the question.
Even if you’re not in a medical field, follow in their footsteps! The best thing you can do for your career is to keep spotting new and advanced solutions, modern tech-based tools, and methods you can apply in your field of work. It will not just make you more efficient and productive (which, in turn, makes your job much more satisfying), but it will set you up for even greater success and give you the competitive advantage you need.
Define your own professional purpose
Too many people end up doing a certain job without a clear idea as to how they got there. We spot opportunities, we take some while we reject others, and we go through life in a state of partial autopilot. If you’re a landscape artist, why do you do what you do? To get paid or to see families enjoy their new garden with the kids? If you’re a cybersecurity specialist, do you just like tech-related challenges, or you genuinely want to make your digital environment safer?
You don’t have to be a cardiovascular surgeon and save lives in order to do meaningful work. It comes down to your own mindset and attitude towards your career. What is the “why” that brings you to work every Monday morning? Defining your professional purpose means recognizing that bigger picture, that grander goal you’re contributing to, other than ensuring your own financial stability.
Define the purpose of your job and your overall career path – if there is a discrepancy, maybe you should be looking for a new job, or redefine what your purpose is to match your work.
Look for different ways you are making a difference. Your purpose can extend beyond a single overarching goal, but into several different spheres, such as helping people lead better lives, provide a creative solution to a problem, contribute to a greener future, and provide jobs in your community.
Setting your heart on a purpose doesn’t mean you should abandon all other pursuits. Goals can change, so can your purpose! Start journaling to get a better view of your career journey, and you might discover new purpose-related opportunities opening up.
Get a mentor, a coach, or simply talk to someone you admire. They can help you learn more about yourself, find new ways to appreciate your career, and grow as a professional.
Learn to stand up for yourself
Workplace abuse can range from cyberbullying to issues in the leadership style of your boss (or even your own). A toxic work environment can hardly produce happy employees and thriving leaders. Whether you’ve been putting up with more than you can handle, or you’ve noticed an uptake in inappropriate attitudes and language, you need to stand up for yourself.
Much like you recognize your role in defining what helps you thrive, you should also spot when others in your work environment are bringing you down. Standing up for yourself can mean anything from quitting your job to replace it with a better, healthier one, or actively working on a solution that will change your workplace dynamics.
Even if you work in noble and rewarding fields such as healthcare, you cannot possibly go home feeling valued if your superior is taking every opportunity to belittle you or give you a shift in a ward where it’s extremely difficult to work. Come up with a constructive, but firm way to communicate issues in your place of business, and you’ll create a transparent, safe work environment in which you can thrive.
Master the art of goal setting
You can still be a relatively successful individual even if you don’t have a clear vision as to where your career is going. To thrive, on the other hand, you need to have greater control (and thus greater responsibility) of your career. The best way to do that is to learn how to set goals and milestones in your everyday work, but also in your overarching career.
Make sure your goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. These criteria will help you determine which goals actually qualify as goals, and what you need to do to achieve them.
Setting goals helps you clarify your milestones, which are more short-term, such as your weekly workload, or monthly targets. They help you see what you need to do in order to advance.
Milestones, on the other hand, allow you to determine daily habits and decisions that will help you reach your goals efficiently.
Keep in mind, goals can change, just like your purpose in your career. Being open-minded about what you can and want to achieve will allow you to truly thrive whichever path you choose.
Build professional relationships
Both inside your workplace as well as in your broader professional network, your relationships often define the direction of your career, as well as its value. Most of all, be curious! Attend industry events, connect with other leaders to learn from them, and host your own events (online as well as offline) to harness the power of professional collaboration and a sense of community.
In a sense, networking helps you build alliances in your profession. Should something go awry in your current job, you’ll always have a few options at your disposal, or at the very least, strong references to help you reach your new goals.
Relationships in your career can often make all the difference in how satisfying your work can be, and you’ll come across numerous opportunities to thrive merely by networking in your field of work.
Thriving often means that you need to be ready to evolve, obtain new skills and knowledge, change some of your old patterns, and perhaps even change your workplace. It’s vital for you to find the calling that resonates with your values, but that also gives you a safe space to express yourself and build healthy relationships. Determine what’s best for you to give you a sense of professional fulfillment and purpose before you commit to a career.
Add to that, asking for help and actively looking for ways to improve will get you far, no matter your profession, but it’s important to derive pleasure from what you do every day, otherwise you won’t be as productive and successful as you’d like to be. Make sure that your own career plan takes that satisfaction into account and that you will invest in yourself in order to build a professional path that is worthy of your abilities.