On average, people spend a third of their lives at work, so it’s natural that from time to time we all have a desire to give our career a boost. It can be an aspiration to receive a promotion, start a job in a new field, or just become better professionals. No matter what is the reason for a decision to climb up the career ladder, there’s an interesting journey full of exploration of yourself and your working pace as well as unexpected discoveries ahead.
Besides that, professional advances bring double reward: financial on one side, as you grow your social status, and moral satisfaction on another. The same is true for revealing your potential and bringing more value to the field you are working in.
The good news is that it’s possible to speed the process of career development. Here’s how:
Point Out Your Objectives and Make a Plan
The first step when you pursue a career goal is understanding the final results you want to achieve. Here are some of the questions that can be used for self-check:
- Why am I stepping in this way?
- What is my main motivation?
- How will I know my goal is completed? Can it be measured?
- What will I do if things are not going as expected?
- What can make me stop this journey?
Try to give quick and honest answers, and the results may be unexpectedly insightful.
The enthusiasm levels may vary and sometimes you may want to stop moving forward but knowing your whys will always help you to get back on track. Then, you need to perform a self-analysis to assess your current situation and draft a plan of actions you need to take to move your career to a new level. These may be acquiring additional skills, listing down the learning materials, and breaking the scope down into smaller chunks with the deadlines for each of them. Having the plan and tracking your progress, you will know your capacity and will be able to see how much time you need to complete these steps.
Kenneth W. Boyd, a co-founder of AIS-CPA, the resource that helps people to become certified accountant, agrees and shares his views on career growth: “You don’t need to sacrifice your life in attempts to earn a qualification, you just need to have the right plan and be ready to follow it”.
Upgrade Your Qualifications
When you look for a promotion or are considering starting a new career, almost in all cases it means increasing your professional competencies. Luckily there are plenty of options here, starting from formal, such as education and acquiring official certifications, to informal, such as offline and online courses, books, podcasts, and workshops.
For many of them, you don’t even need to leave your house. In the current remote work environment, it’s a great way to develop your skills faster as you don’t have to commute and can absorb the knowledge while doing housework or during your morning jog. Note that not all information possesses equal value, so when choosing a learning resource, make sure to check guarantees, course outlines, and feedback.
Find a Mentor
The best way to quickly navigate through your career path is to have a mentor. It can be done by reaching out to a known expert in your professional field, a more experienced colleague, a former manager, or participating in a mentorship program. This way you will be able to communicate with a person who already achieved the goals you want to, share your plans and concerns, and learn from first-hand experience.
The main values in such a relationship are regular feedback on your progress, objective assessment of your performance, and the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. In mentorship, you also receive constructive criticism and better see your gaps, hear encouraging words when something is not working as expected, and boost your motivation by observing a role model in action.
Work on Your Soft Skills
Take a minute to remind yourself how a person who frequently receives a promotion, or already works in a top position looks like. You probably recall them stepping in during a critical moment, sharing information with colleagues, asking relevant questions, contributing improvement ideas, and being proactive overall. With a solid set of soft skills, it’s easy to stand out from the crowd and navigate through career perspectives. Start with learning the rules of effective communication including active listening, accepting and delivering feedback, and progress to critical thinking and leadership. The certificates and hard skills are absolutely essential, but usually, the final word in considering someone’s promotion is primarily based on the presence of soft skills, as these are much more difficult to develop.
Maintaining a Healthy Work-Life Balance
In attempts to move up the career ladder, many people make one common mistake. They work on the verge of their limits, relegating all other spheres to the background. Then, when the desired promotion happens, instead of enthusiasm and energy to take on the new role, they're burnt out.
Moreover, the more time you spend working the less productive you become. To avoid this, make sure to take preventative measures by maintaining a balance between work and personal life. This way, you will be able to achieve healthy professional development. So don’t forget to have enough sleep, and reserve some time for hobbies and connecting with friends and family to enjoy all the aspects of your life.
There’s a lot on your plate when you make a decision to boost your career, so be patient. It may take several months or several years depending on where you start before you see the first measurable results of your efforts. However, using the above tips along with the right prioritization will help you make this process faster and more productive because you will definitely grow as a professional and will be able to pursue new career goals.
Ken Boyd is an accounting and finance expert at AIS-CPA.