There are ways you can try to improve your career without making a major switch. Here are some seemingly small tips I have tried that have helped me more than I anticipated.
Try to set small goals regularly. While it’s New Year’s Resolution season right now, you can make goals more often than once a year.
You don’t have to throw out your larger goals, but consider setting smaller goals to help you achieve your larger goals and help you find some satisfaction and success in the meantime. Set a mini goal each month to break up a big project. If you want to improve your business’s efficiency ratio by a certain percentage over the next year, break it up into smaller goals for each month. Give yourself a smaller portion to complete in the first month so you can begin to track your progress and see whether the overall timeframe is realistic.
Set process goals. Perhaps what you really want is a promotion or a raise. Setting a goal about getting that promotion or raise isn’t a bad idea, but you should also set goals that have results you have more control over. Talk to your boss about what is keeping you from a promotion or raise, and make goals based on the feedback you receive. If you need to improve your editing skills, set a goal to increase the number of pieces you edit or set a goal to take a class online to improve.
Ask for feedback. Talk to your boss and your colleagues regularly about ways you might improve. It can be intimidating or make you feel defensive to hear about ways you can improve, but receiving regular feedback before it blows up into a problem may be easier than waiting until something has to be said. I worked with a woman named Amy who was great at this. She regularly shared unfinished work with our team to ask what we thought about the direction or details. When I shared ways I thought her designs or copy could be better or different, she never became defensive. She was willing to ask for feedback and learn from others, and her work as a graphic designer quickly matured and improved over the years I worked with her.
Consider taking an online class or read up right now. If you want to improve a certain skill or learn a new one, do it! If your need is great, sign up for night classes or start looking at grad school. If you’re not sure what you need or you just have a new interest, there are fun ways to learn now. There are online learning sites like Skillshare™ where you can take classes on subjects like email marketing, mixing music, or going freelance. As an alternative, find a class that is just for fun. Perhaps taking some time to develop a new hobby or interest will break up the monotony of your day job.
If you aren’t ready to take a class, read up on the subject you’re interested in. You can do an online search for the topic and read the top hits. You can search your favorite news sites for current events about the topic. You can look at Amazon’s® top rated books on the subject, you can even purchase an e-book and start reading today. Sometimes reading a wikiHow® article gives me just enough information to know where to begin learning.
Learning about a subject you’re interested in will help you stay engaged. If you start small, it may be easier to adjust or switch tracks if you realize you aren’t as interested as you thought.
Find someone to help you. I don’t want to use the words “mentor” or “network” because they can be intimidating. The people who help you don’t have to be formal mentors or people you meet at networking activities. Perhaps a colleague a few years your senior has some great tips to share if you just ask what they would have told their younger self. Get together with people who do similar work and ask about their work. I learned a lot from a woman who made similar career choices a few years ahead of me. Every time I have taken a moment to email her and ask a question I’m so glad that I took the time.
Improving your career doesn’t always have to be formal. Consider trying one of these tips to improve now.
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