I’ve been in the people business for a number of years and I give a lot of coaching to folks who are looking to enhance their career, start a career, or change careers. What I want to share with you are the top 10 things you can do right now to enhance your career. A career can be defined in different ways. It could be a professional job that you’re in. It could be managing your own business as an entrepreneur. It could be a nonprofit or a for-purpose that you’re looking to start. What’s beautiful about these top 10 tips is that anybody can use them and easily apply them to what they’re doing – right now.
Alright, are you ready? Let’s dive in.
I’m going to start with number 10, and work all the way down to number 1.
Number 10 – Find a mentor, be a mentor
This term can be used interchangeably with, find a life coach, be a life coach. It means, find somebody who can speak into your life, and speak into somebody else’s life. It’s really important that we don’t try to face life alone. You’ll often hear expressions like, find your tribe, who’s your group? And let’s not forget about the statistics on loneliness right now. Surrounding yourself with people you trust, your own ‘board of advisors’, is critical to your career’s success and your personal success.
Number 9 – Stay current
To stay relevant in your profession, you have to stay current. Now, that could mean many different things. It could be subscribing to blogs or podcasts or people knowledgeable in your craft, or people that you want to emulate and learn from. It could be maintaining your designations. For instance, I have the designation of PHR, and I’m also in the process of getting my coaching designation through the ICF, the International Coaching Federation. So, for me and my field, those designations are really important. For you, it could be a whole alphabet soup of different letters, but stay current, and if you have licenses, maintain those. You’ve spent a lot of money and time to obtain them. You would not believe how many people I speak with who allow their designations lapse because they just didn’t have time to complete the continuing education requirements. You have time for the things you want to have time for, so stay current in your designations, knowledge or technology.
Number 8 – Complete your education
I remember years ago I was watching Oprah, and she had an elderly person on the show who had just received her bachelor’s degree. What she said was profound, and it has stayed with me all these years. She said, “Listen, the time’s going to pass anyway. You might as well spend it getting educated.” This is so important – complete your education! For some of you, that may be a high school diploma, a GED certificate, your associate degree, your bachelor’s degree, your master’s degree, or attending a trade school.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not important to complete your education. It is very important. Nobody can ever take that education from you.
Number 7 – Take care of yourself
This is another topic that I coach people on daily. If you’re not well, if you’re not whole, nothing else matters. How can you be a good employee, a good mother, a good friend, a good member of your best community, or your best self if you’re not taking care of yourself? I realize this is going to look very different for everybody, but it’s really, really vital – if you don’t take care of yourself, nothing I’m talking about is going to matter.
Number 6 – Seek stretch goals. Seek stretch actions.
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough. Now look, there may be 25 people right now that roll their eyes and say, “Oh my gosh, I have trouble finding my car keys in the morning. Do you know my life? It’s, crazy. I don’t even have time to stretch myself.” My reply would be, pause and look at what’s going on in your world right now. Is there an assignment at work that you can raise your hand for and know that you’re going to make an impact? Is there something that you can get involved in, in your community and know that being a part of it will improve the result? I challenge you to really think about where you can make an impact right now, and do something about it.
Number 5 – Connect.
We are not meant to spend time on this earth by ourselves; responding to 25 people on Facebook about how awesome their chili looks, is not connecting. Get out, meet people for coffee, meet people for breakfast. If you want to connect with me, hit me up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Amber Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to connect with you because we are stronger when we are a community. So, think about those you’ve been meaning to reach out to; those you’ve been meaning to write back to, or you’ve been meaning to call. If that’s your mom, please stop reading this right now; call your mother and then pick up where you left off. If you’ve done that, welcome back. Make sure you are present and you are connecting. All we have is each other, so make sure you are making relationship investments daily.
Number 4 – Make a lateral move.
This is also something I coach people on a lot. As you know, many people want to climb the corporate ladder, but sometimes you need to pause and ask, “Is this ladder taking me where I really want to go?” I know that sometimes I’ve been on ladders that were not the right ones for me, or they were taking me to a place I didn’t really want to go. That’s when you have to pause and say, “Hmm, okay, let me step back. Let me not look at the promotion or the accolades I’d get. Rather, let me jump over here and work on this project, or let me jump over here and start this side hustle. Or let me collaborate with this person who I know can bring success to what I’m doing.” Do not be dismayed by going lateral. Sometimes that one move will get you to the place you want to be.
Remember that most people’s paths to success are not a straight line. Consider, for example, a two-year old. This would actually be kind of fun. If you have a two-year old close by, give them a crayon and tell them to color a picture for you. That’s what success looks like, folks. It’s not a straight line.
All right, are you still with me? We’re counting down.
Number 3 – Have a point of view.
Have you ever joined a conference call or a work call or any other call and somebody on the call is radio silent – the whole time? Okay, I get it; maybe it’s the first time they’ve been on a call. But if it’s the fifth call with the same team, and the person still doesn’t have a point of view, people are going to start wondering why you’re on the call. Now, listen, this is not permission for you to just say something random. It is a reminder that you were invited to participate on the call or to attend the meeting because you have a point of view. Your point of view matters. So, don’t hold back. What you say matters. Bring yourself forward. Put your whole self on the front porch with a cup of sweet tea. Don’t mute yourself. Don’t limit yourself. Have a point of view and make sure people know what it is.
Number 2 – Take risks
Is it easy starting a podcast and hoping people listen? Absolutely not. Have I had a couple of nos from guests that you would have loved hearing? Yep, but you know what? No doesn’t mean never. No just means not right now, and for every no there has been so many yeses, and to those yeses – thank you. If you look at some of the best decisions you’ve ever made, and I would ask you to put on your vision goggles and look back for a minute, I bet there were risks involved. For anything that was important, I bet it involved getting really uncomfortable. If it’s worthwhile, it’s not going to be in a little blue box with a bow on it. It’s not going to be clear. It’s not going to be clean cut. It’s going to be messy. It’s going to be unstructured, and you have to do it anyway.
And last, but not least – drumroll please…
The number 1 tip that I have for you on owning your career, your side hustle, your life, is to understand, first and foremost, you are the architect of your life.
Please don’t sit back and let other people define what success looks like, what creativity looks like, or what your life should look like.
Anytime you put your destiny in someone else’s hands, you give away your power.
I hope you’ve learned something new today. I hope I’ve reignited a passion in you that you have forgotten. I hope you shifted in your chair a couple of times. I hope I made you a little bit uncomfortable. If so, I did my job.