Hey fellow young professional,
How have you been? I hope you, your family & friends are safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.
But hey.. we’re already in the second half of the year. It went by pretty fast huh?!
Most of us had resolutions at the beginning of the year. Maybe you were able to realize them, maybe not or maybe you’re still working on getting it done.
But suppose you haven’t been able to realize them yet, don’t stress yourself out!
You can make New Year’s resolutions whenever you want: mid-year or at 2:00 a.m. on a Thursday. As long as you make a conscious choice.
That’s why I often say professional growth is yours for the taking!
Let’s talk about our careers – how we look at our past experiences and how we use them to build our future. Here are a few practical tips you can use to grow professionally.
1. Organize your life (make a list)
Making a to-do list brings peace of mind. If there seems to be an endless amount of tasks on your plate, make a list and draw a circle next to each task.
Nothing is better than making a list. Well, nothing but checking those circles when finishing the tasks at hand.
To advance your career, I want you to make two lists:
- What I want to achieve in the coming year
- What I’ve already achieved
Make your “dream list” first. What do you want in the coming year? Do you want to speak more in meetings? Do you want a raise? Want to learn a complete set of new skills? Do you want to change jobs altogether?
Once you’ve established your goals, create your second list. This is made up of the things you have already accomplished.
As you put together this list, think about how the things you’ve already done can contribute to what you want to do: your goals.
Because sometimes it can seem like you don’t have the right experience or skills to achieve a new goal.
For example, maybe you want to be in a leadership role this year, but you feel like you don’t have any experience. The point is, you probably do have relevant experience. Think about things you’ve done in the past.
Did you lead a group to complete a group assignment when you were in school? Have you ever organized alumni events with your college friends? Or did you simply manage the organization of a trip outside the city? The great thing about existing skills is that they are most likely transferable. It’s mostly a matter of context.
2. Map out your goals
Map out your career goals. Perhaps your goals are on a smaller scale, such as a getting up on time in the morning or the ability to better organize your daily activities.
Or maybe they’re a little bigger, like leading a brand new department in the company you work for or pursuing a major promotion.
Whatever your goals are, make sure you make them a priority.
Which will be easier to reach? What is a reasonable time frame to achieve these goals? Are there specific steps you need to take to achieve them? Whether you want to build your leadership skills, brush up on your writing skills or learn a whole new skill.
Mapping them out and categorizing them will ultimately lower the pressure in actually achieving these goals.
3. Keep track of wins
A great way to motivate yourself and recognize your true worth at work is to track your victories. This is something that may not come naturally to everyone.
Women in general are a little more reserved about their performance. Instead of shouting victories from the rooftops or hanging from the rafters for joy, women give themselves a sly, knowing smile and move on.
Think about tracking your victories monthly or weekly. Write it down. If the wins are the result of a team effort, describe how you were a key element of the overall success. Over time, these victories will impart specific skills, be it leadership, project management or technical skills.
4. Acknowledge your losses
Just as you will now keep track of the victories, keep track of the losses too.
Maybe your “loss” is a simple mistake you made. Or one that still sticks with you, such as a missed deadline or a customer you lost to bad customer service.
I firmly believe that you learn more from your losses than from your successes.
When you start tracking your losses, you’ll know better why they happen and how to fix them for the future.
5. Identify skill gaps
Once you start tracking your losses, you will inevitably improve in one way or another.
Things like spelling mistakes and missed deadlines can be addressed with simple organizational techniques. But some losses may be due to a skill gap.
So check with yourself which skill you need to develop or simply improve.
Work hard on implementing your own spin on organizing your work life, maintaining good communication with clients and colleagues, and focusing on other details in your work.
6. Expand your skill set
Once you’ve discovered your gaps, you can take steps to fill them with the required skills. This may seem daunting (and expensive), but ultimately it doesn’t have to be.
You will definitely have to invest in yourself, but that can be done very easily by simply following an online course or joining a service club.
Some of these are: Rotaract Clubs in Suriname, JCI, Leo, UNFPA (read more about them online)
By joining these clubs, you gain learn skills that you rarely or never learn at school, but you do learn a lot while carrying out projects and attending seminars and webinars.
7. Learn to Negotiate
Learn how to get what you want out of your professional career. This will likely involve some negotiation, which is a priceless skill to have if you continuously want to grow.
Before you ever start a negotiation, prepare yourself with research, data (if necessary), and possible positive results.
Part of the negotiation will come from being able to present confidently and convincingly. Make sure you master this skill.
8. Always ask for feedback
If you’re not sure about something you’re working on, ask for feedback.
Ask for feedback if you’ve recently completed a project or if you’ve just done a presentation. It will help to see where you can sharpen your skills and where things are already going very well. This ensures that you always continue to learn and grow professionally.
9. Learn to listen actively
We’ve talked a lot about how to reach others so now I want to point out something that you have to work on for yourself.
Listening skills are crucial in the workplace. Listening – really listening – will let you know about things going on that wouldn’t be obvious otherwise.
Hear what management is saying about the next quarter.
Hear about the challenges the Organization is facing.
Listen to where marketing needs more support.
If you have a really good understanding of what’s happening (and how to fix it), you’re more likely to be promoted from within. But for your personal growth this will also be a great asset, because in the end we have 2 ears and 1 mouth. That tells you enough, doesn’t it?
10. Always Network
When it comes to progressing professionally, you have no choice but to activate your networking skills.
If the phrase “networking event” makes you cringe, don’t worry. There are many ways to network.
Take LinkedIn for example. Use it to network with company employees, individuals who hold similar jobs as you, and connect with potential mentors.
Also make use of your network of friends. Chances are you have a friend of a friend who may have some insight in your industry or desired position.
But informal conversations, coffee meetings and party conversations can also serve as networking opportunities.
Ultimately, the saying your network makes your net worth is completely true.
So do you want to grow further? Get to know the right people!
So guys, those are some tips regarding growing professionally. A few people thought them to me and I still use them to this day.
That’s why I urge you to use them and not just read it and never use it.
I wish you well in all your endeavors. Until the next blog on this topic!
“You don’t overcome challenges by making them smaller but by making yourself bigger.” —John C. Maxwell