Many professionals feel stuck in their careers because they’re no longer growing, no longer enjoy their work, and don’t know what to do about it.
When we stop growing professionally, we stop compounding our skills, knowledge, and experiences — we stop compounding our personal value. This means we’ve stopped becoming more valuable to the marketplace, which negatively affects our career advancement and wealth.
In this post, you’ll learn six core qualities to strengthen, plus six action items for you to focus on, to create new opportunities for yourself, and advance your career.
Quality #1: Confidence
Confidence is our greatest competitive advantage. Confidence leads to competence. It’s through confidence that we muster the courage to learn new skills, take new risks, and put ourselves in the spotlight. Confidence and courage work like muscles: they remain weak until we train and strengthen them.
Self-confidence is self-belief and self-trust; it’s believing in ourselves enough to take action, despite our fears of failure and rejection, and trusting ourselves to follow through.
Action Item: Write three things you know you need to do but have chosen not to because you’re afraid of failure, rejection, or judgment. Do (or start) one of them this week.
Quality #2: Strategy
Many people are drifters, working Mon-Fri without a sense of direction for where they’re taking their careers or what long-term goals they plan to achieve. By not having a long-term career strategy, it’s difficult — frustrating even — to make decisions and take action in the short-term due to the lack of clarity.
People are our greatest asset. We must study and learn from those who have already achieved the outcome we desire. By analyzing their success, we can 1) determine our outcome, 2) develop a strategy, 3) take action, and 4) learn from our results — whether good or bad.
Action Item: Think through and build a long-term career plan for yourself: 1) What’s your longterm career outcome? 2) What’s your strategy for achieving it? 3) What’s needed for you to start taking action? 4) Start taking action and learn from your results.
Quality #3: Personal Branding
Our reputation precedes us; our 1st impression introduces us; our last impression is our lasting impression
How others perceive us — companies, colleagues, and other professionals — is determined by our personal brand. For example, if you asked your best friend to describe who you are to someone new, your best friend would share their perception of you. This shared perception is the personal brand that will be remembered.
Similarly, the reputation and identity we develop and promote in our careers will influence how other professionals perceive us. This affects our applications, interviewing, negotiating, responsibilities, promotions, compensation — everything.
Action Item: Determine how you want to be perceived professionally. Then begin strengthening your brand by further developing yourself and acting accordingly. If you’re making a career change, update your LinkedIn (should do this anyways), resume, and cover letters.
Quality #4: Personal Development
There are only three forms of value: time, money, and information. Time is fixed, and we often don’t start our careers with much money, which leaves us with information. Through investing in personal development and building new skills, knowledge, and experiences, we increase our information value and become more valuable to the marketplace.
“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” – Jim Rohn
When we become extremely valuable, we attract opportunities. The goal is not to exert enormous energy chasing, but instead to develop ourselves until we attract.
Action Item: Write the most important skill or knowledge area you can begin improving now that would massively improve your ability to add more value in your position or career. Buy a book on the subject tonight and begin reading ASAP, even if only for 15 to 30 minutes per night.
Quality #5: Consistency
Most diets, workout plans, relationships, projects, businesses, and other important long-term endeavors fail due to a lack of consistency (among other things!). It takes consistent action to transform our bodies, to develop trusting relationships, and to prove our value professionally. Similarly, it takes consistency to create new opportunities and advance our careers.
We must relentlessly focus on our personal development, professional networking, and personal performance. These three form the bedrock to our career.
Action Item: Write down what you already know you should be doing consistently. Set a start date within the next week for when you’ll fully commit to following through. Start off slowly and build over time! Rome wasn’t built on Day 1, and it was never expected to be.
Quality #6: Opportunity
If the first five qualities are the ingredients to the recipe, then opportunity is the baked cake. By improving and taking action on the first five qualities, we begin to receive opportunities in our lives and careers through recognition, referrals, recommendations, requests, endorsements, promotions, partnerships, invitations, and other means.
Action Item: Define the next career opportunity you most desire and begin planning how you’ll become the person who will attract it. Then begin taking action and creating your opportunities.