The big wide world of work. It can be a scary place. Especially if you don’t know what you want to do just yet. And even if you do, it can be tricky to know where to pave those first stones of your career path.
But before you get too stressed, we’re here to help! Cultivating your dream career doesn’t have to be dauting. It can actually be very exciting. As any tradesman will tell you, it’s about finding the right tools for the job. On that note, there are some things you can do to make a big difference in building a career path you can be proud of.
Now of course, everyone is different, so don’t feel like you have to tick every item off this list just for the sake of it. Take some time read through and see what really resonates with you. Then, go out and put it into practice.
So, first things first;
Know What You Don’t Want
It might seem strange to start with a negative, but trust us on this one. You don’t have to know exactly what career path you want, whether you’re 25 or 95. But by figuring out what you don’t want, it’s much easier to narrow down your focus to decide what you do.
Like a lot of things, this will take some trial and error. So try new things! You might end up finding a whole new passion that you hadn’t even considered. And if not, at least you can say you tried.
To be more specific, here are a few experiences you should definitely get under your belt. You’ll quickly start to figure out what you do and don’t want along your career path;
· Do something that scares you – stretch you limits. With big risks come big rewards and you never know, you might surprise yourself
· Volunteer – we mean it when we say that little feels as good as giving back to the world. By offering up your skills and time, you can find new passions, improve on your talents, and feel great
· Pick up a side project – you know that thing you always wondered whether you’d be any good at? Try it out. At best, you’ll find a new career path or new source of income, and at the very least you’ll add some variety to your day.
As you start to gain more experience, you can build up a list of ‘non-negotiables’. This is a tick list of specifics you definitely do and don’t want in work and life. Sinead Brady, a career ; coaching psychologist, knows all about the power of non-negotiables. She devotes her professional life to helping people find a perfect work-life blend. Sinead suggests that these non-negotiables are essential to designing your unique career path. And she tells you exactly how to do it here.
Invest In Yourself
Let’s start this one off by saying something; you’re pretty damn awesome! Out of over 7 billion people in the word, there’s only one you. So invest in yourself – your skills, your body and your mind. You’ll start to find that your career will naturally start growing as you do.
However, before we even get on to your career path here, make yourself a priority. You can’t get the best out of your career if you’re not feeling great. So, make your body and mind the number one focus with these tips;
· Know your energy levels – and use them. Take some time to notice when your most productive hours are in the day, and work with them. To get specific, use some of these tools to perfect your workday productivity.
· Know how much sleep you need – and commit to getting it. Whether it’s 5 hours or 12, listen to your body and give it what it needs to thrive.
· Know how to manage stress – this is a really important one, and completely personal to you. For some people, meditation helps, for others its exercise or sleep. There are loads of ways to manage stress, with a few ideas here. But, if it’s starting to overwhelm you, consider some professional help. In the same way a broken body needs professional care, sometimes the mind does too.
Looking after your mind and body is essential to being able to chase your dream career path. But regardless of what stage you’re at in your career, there are two major tips to finding your unique edge. Ok, deep breaths. This is the big stuff now.
1. Know Your Superpower
Or, in other words, know that one thing you’re truly amazing at. Tina Roth Eisenberg is a serial entrepreneur who’s met a lot of successful people in her time. And the one thing they all have in common? They know exactly what they’re best at. Listen to her fantastic talk on why superpowers are so important. Then, take some time to figure out yours.
Your superpower is a skill in which you have a unique strength and passion. Finding your own superpower will give you a solid foundation to build your career path on. And don’t get us started on the confidence and empowerment it can give you. I don’t think we can ever talk about the importance of figuring out your strengths enough! So to find out yours, why not try our free strengths test?
2. Know Your Weakness
Equally as important, it’s key to know what you’re not so great at. Not to make you feel bad—not in the least! – but to help you figure out where best to allocate your time. This can also help you build up that list of non-negotiables we mentioned earlier. Soon, you’ll find you can spend more time doing what you’re really great at.
However, whilst it’s great to know that you’re fighting fit and excited to work, make sure everyone else knows too! Don’t be afraid to show yourself off.
The first way to do this is to head to social media. When a future employer or professional contact is looking for you, guess where they will turn? Yup, online. Probably LinkedIn. So, take some time to organize your social media. Delete any old posts that could be seen as incriminating. Sort out some of those questionable photos. And work on your LinkedIn page.
Forbes reported that LinkedIn is the number one social tool used by hiring managers. So a good profile really could get you that dream job. Take it from Cat Knarr, a marketing specialist who knows all about the benefits of LinkedIn. She has plenty of secrets to building a better profile and wowing your future employers. In fact, she got her current job due to a great LinkedIn profile, so she really does know what she’s talking about!
After social media, you need to also gain the skills to sell your talent to people. You might know that you’re the perfect candidate for a role, but you need to make your future employer see that too. And this involves sales and negotiation. In most cases, it’s the only way you’re going to get what you want and truly deserve.
When it comes to applying for a specific role, career guru Felix Tarcomnicu suggests benefits over features. Hint hint, this is where your superpower comes in handy! And the big pointer, show some passion! For any role, your future employer wants to see that you’re really excited to be there.
Make the most of your second greatest asset.
We’ve already said that you are your own greatest asset. But your second greatest is the people you have around you. Your network can make a massive difference, and understandably, building relationships takes time. So start now!
In creating long-lasting networks, it turns out it’s a little like a fine wine. Don’t believe us? We reckon ‘The Superior Group’s’ analogy for strong relationships will have you reaching for the Pinot. They also have a bunch of practical advice for how to build them.
Then, once you’ve start to build a strong network, the next challenge is learning how to use it. The key word here is delegation. No one can do it all, and more importantly, no one expects you to do it all either. In the same way that you have unique strengths, so does everyone else. So make the most of it! What’s more, as you start to progress down your career path, you’ll need to start getting selective on the work you do. Using your list of non-negotiables (there they are again!) and knowing your weaknesses will allow to figure out where you should be spending your time. These 10 rules of successful delegation will help you do it right.
Alongside a broad network, having a couple of people to advise you on everything – from a terrible boss to a career path 180 – is incredibly valuable. This might be a dedicated mentor, or it might be your mom. Either is justified, so long as they’re fighting your corner.
Words Are A Powerful Tool
Robin Sharma, one of the world’s top leadership experts and most widely read authors, knows this fact well. Robin said that;
“Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well.”
Using your words well changes how people perceive you and influences how things are done.
For example, at just two letters long, “no” seems to be one of the hardest words in the English language for many of us to say. But it’s actually incredibly important for our careers (and our sanity!) that we learn to use it sometimes. This will it allow you more time to work on important things. And you’ll enjoy work more in the knowledge that you’re doing what’s best and right for you. Need more proof? Well here’s a whole blog of reasons why “no” is important.
Of course, we know as much as your do that saying “no” can be tricky, so figuring out how to say it is key. Whilst it’s important to show consideration for an offer, don’t shy away from honesty. Rebecca Knight from the Harvard Business Review has got the art of declining down to a T. Or should we say an N-O? Take a read of her steps to getting well versed in saying no thanks.
Alongside the big ‘N.O.’, feedback is often a scary word in the world of business. But learning to give and receive constructive feedback is priceless skill. For most of us, getting feedback can be a struggle. But it’s time to realise it’s the only way you can grow as a professional. So in the words of Hillary Clinton,
“It’s important to take criticism seriously – not personally”.
Easier said than done? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Some people naturally take feedback better than others. But like any skill, it can be learned. It takes practise. The key thing to remember is to separate yourself from the criticism. Try to view it objectively by listening, asking questions and taking action on it.
And something that often worries people even more than getting feedback is giving it. But like we said earlier, you are your number one priority. Giving feedback is essential to becoming a happy and productive professional. Often, it’s just about being clear, specific and considerate of the person you’re talking to. We’re all human, so treat the other person the same way you would like to be treated if the rolse were reversed.
Finally, use the power of words to take your elevator pitch up a level. Whilst it will obviously change from time to time, you never struggle to answer the question “What do you do?”. In fact, it should become a mantra of yours. Something that gets you excited to work. When answering this question, think of feeling over detail. Alexandra Franzen is a communication expert who specialises in using words in work. When it comes to refining your elevator pitch, she has a step-by-step plan for bringing emotion to your mantra. Trust us, it will benefit you as much as it will your career.
Assuming you want to have a career you love, it’s important to keep actively chasing it. Just by reading this blog you’re already heading in the right direction so well done! Why not dig deeper into finding purpose and meaning in work with our blog here? It might just spark some bright ideas to push your career path in the right direction.
Oh, and if you do know what you want? Start taking steps to go after it. Yes, careers are long, but why spend one more day than you have to not doing what you want? You have our permission. We hope you have yours, too.
Discover your strengths by taking the free HIGH5 personality test that is designed to help people live more meaningful lives based on what they are naturally good at – www.high5test.com