In today’s article you’re going to learn everything you need to know about how to improve your career.
It has 10 things you can start doing today to advance your career. None of them require any special skills or training, just being self-aware and motivated enough to go the extra mile.
I know life is busy, so I kept this article short so it doesn’t bog your life down. If you like it, share it on social media, and be sure to connected with me as well!
How To Improve Your Career
1. Don’t Worry, Act Happy
I’m not going to kid you or myself by saying that you should be a bubbly ball of joy every day. Some days suck, and some really suck. You are going to have good ones and bad ones, and really bad ones.
Something I learned early in my career was, that no one will remember WHY you are having a bad day. It doesn’t matter what happened at home, at work, who hit your car in the parking lot, or what you and your spouse argued about the night before. They won’t remember. What they will remember though, is your attitude.
If you are in a position where you deal with people, which is like 99.9% of us who strap on boots or loafers every day and go to work, you deal with people. The one things that will stick out in their mind when someone asks them in ten years about you…YOUR ATTITUDE. Your demeanor, your spirit, and your overall outlook on life and situations. So a word of advice to you, keep it positive.
It doesn’t matter what kind of day, week, or year you are having, when you walk into work, you need to come in with a smile on your face and full of energy. EVERY DAY. If you don’t feel like it, fake it. That’s right, find something that makes you happy and harness it to force a smile on your face and conversation with your colleagues.
At the end of the day, someone with a great attitude is 10x more promotable than even a more competent person with a crappy attitude. WHY? Attitude is hard to teach, and almost impossible to change. You can teach anyone any technical skill out there: stocks, selling medical supplies, etc., but changing someone’s attitude is a huge challenge. Want that promotion?
Earn it with a smile and a positive outlook! Your attitude is contagious and will uplift those around you. It’s very difficult to have a bad day when someone around you is always trying to lift you up.
Now earlier when I said fake it, I meant it, but that only works for so long. If you are truly unhappy with your career day in and day out, then it’s time for a change.
2. Keep thoughts to yourself and don’t run your mouth.
How does this apply to work? I say how doesn’t it. No matter how good your boss is, you will always have criticism for them.
No matter how great the company, human nature is to have complaints. The best way to deal with it, if it is really something that bothers you, is to take the bull by the horns and change it. Don’t just sit around and complain about it. It will only make you look negative.
Would you want someone who is always complaining joining your senior management team and being the face of the company? I wouldn’t either. So when faced with the option of talk bad about something or not at all, I always picked the latter (well not always, and I learned the hard way a few times).
Talking bad does nothing but divide the management team and cast a negative light on the company. This is your livelihood; why would you want to talk bad about it? In my opinion, this is probably the number one thing that keeps very capable and very intelligent people from getting the promotions they deserve; they have a negative attitude and talk bad about the boss or the company too much.
SEE ALSO: How To Organize Your Desk At Work: 7 Tips To Declutter Your Workplace
3. Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat
There are going to be countless times in your career, and life in general, that you’re going to be scared, angry, or frustrated. Depending on your personality, it may be the most difficult task in the world to hold back these emotions. Many of us wear them on our sleeves, including me.
But you must. See, leaders are fearless, calm, reasonable beings that must exude confidence and courage at all times. Is this fair? Your people can show all the emotions they want, but the leader must suck it up? I say it is fair. It is your job.
Why? Because they picked you to lead for a reason. As difficult as it is, you must set the example for your team, who are watching you constantly, whether you know it or not. Your people will absolutely mimic your behavior and tone, every day. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t walk around like a robot who doesn’t feel anything all day, and expect anyone to be able to connect with you, but keep your emotions in check. No crying, cursing, yelling out…you get the drift.
How do you accomplish this? Being self-aware is the most important piece. If you feel your blood boiling, take a deep breath, walk away, and find a stairwell or outdoor spot to scream at the top of your lungs. Get it out, then get back to work. As much effort as it takes to be the strong one in the group, your team’s overall emotions and performance will benefit greatly. They will mirror your strength and confidence.
4. Remember, You’re A Company Person
As you move up, your persona must align more and more with your management model. Although you and your team may be close, and you may even have been at their level not too long ago and gotten promoted, your days of talking bad about the boss or company are over.
Resist, resist, resist. You may not agree with everything or anything your company or upper management are doing. It’s okay to disagree. The best bosses I ever had, and a habit I mimic to this day, is this: you can say anything you want or disagree with the boss one-on-one behind closed doors, but when out in the workplace in front of everyone, you agree and are aligned with company policies.
Talking bad about the boss or company will always get back to someone, and it will impact you. Next time they’re looking to fill a promotion; they’ll remember that you said some rude stuff about this decision or that strategy. So be a company person. You’re not being a sellout, your being someone who wants to do well in their career.
5. Never Watch Someone Struggle (And Not Help)
Jump in. Be the team player that helps everyone win. Don’t worry about credit. Don’t worry about not being recognized. If you make lending a helping hand part of your regular routine, the big wigs will notice. If you see a coworker in need and jump in to help them, not only are you impressing the uppers, but you are also forming valuable alliances with coworkers.
Part of being successful in the business world is getting people to help you and do things for you because they WANT to. If you’ve helped someone in the past, they will be ten times more likely to help you. As an added bonus, you may get promoted and be their boss one day, and their elephant-like memory will kick in and remind them of the type of person you are and how you helped them out of a jam that one time.
One word of caution, though, is do not overextend yourself. Its best to be awesome at a few things than average at everything. Help whenever you can, but think about what you are committing to prior to committing. Just make sure you don’t spread yourself too thin and not have enough to really go around.
6. Own It, I Mean Really Own It
Many people claim they have ownership, but really have no idea what it even means. The common play in the workplace is someone will own the crap out of a project if it is going well, but are nowhere to be found when things start going south. Failing occasionally really doesn’t decrease anyone’s opinion of you.
I promise. You’re going to screw something up at one point or another. After a certain amount of time, no one will even remember that you messed up the XYZ reports that one time. They will remember, though, very vividly, how you reacted to the situation. They will remember your attitude, responses and demeanor through the entire event. So when I say own it, I mean own it.
Take the good with the bad; all of it was your doing. Capture the good and figure out how to repeat it. Capture the bad and figure out how to prevent it. When someone asks you about the bad, your response is “it was my fault, here’s why, and here’s what I’m doing to prevent it from happening again.” What more can anyone say after that?
Owning it also means being diligent. Crossing fingers, hoping, and asking for a little luck means you are not spending enough time preparing or digging into the real issue. Ask your team great questions, get into the details, and plan for contingencies. Owning it means being honest with yourself about how things are going, and also being big enough to swallow your pride and ask for help.
SEE ALSO: Top 15 Reasons Why You Won’t Achieve Anything At Work
7. Learn the Language and Speak It Well
Every business, company, or team has a lingo. A particular way of speaking that contains some general buzzwords, but also has a hint of uniqueness to it. There’s a reason why upper management uses these words; maybe they promote your vision or mission statement, maybe the just plain like them It doesn’t really matter why.
Being able to intelligently work them into a conversation will get you noticed immediately. Don’t force it, ease into the language and embrace how your upper management talks to each other. Pick someone in the chain of command that you respect, and study their every word. Find out when the appropriate times and places to use the buzzwords or coined phrases, and work them in whenever you can.
8. Make Friends at Work, but Remember They are “Work Friends” Only
I don’t mean this to sound cold-hearted. I believe you can form fantastic relationships in the workplace, especially considering the amount of time you spend with these people. But there are a few key things to keep in mind. One day, this person whom you’ve been spilling your guts to over the years may be competing against you for a promotion.
As much as we’d love to believe that they have more respect for you than to throw you under the bus, most will, sorry, thrown you under the bus. It is human nature. To be cautious, and never allow this to happen to you, keep your thoughts about the boss, dirty laundry, or questionable home activities off the plate at work. Laugh, joke, carry on, but keep it professional and don’t ever give someone any dirt on you.
9. Be Receptive to Feedback, Even If You Don’t Agree
Your career will be packed full of screw ups, mistakes, and missteps. Humans are not infallible and are subject to poor reasoning and lack of ability to predict the future, unfortunately. You better believe that when things go south, you are going to hear about it.
Be prepared, and be receptive. Listen to and internalize all feedback, even if you don’t agree. No matter what, there is something you can learn from any situation, even if it just how things are “perceived” by others, and not how they actually are. The most effective way to respond to feedback is by thanking the person giving it to you, telling them what you learned and what you would do differently next time.
The most important part, however, is actually learning from it. Use any and all feedback to continuously improve yourself every day. Always approach feedback with a positive attitude, and it will definitely get noticed. Close mindedness and the my-way-or-the-highway mentality will get you nowhere.
10. Get Smart
You are not going to know it all, ever. It is impossible. But don’t let a little thing like that keep you from trying. At some point, no matter how much of a people person you are, how great of a leader, you are going to be judged by your level of knowledge.
Most think knowledge comes with experience, and that is true. It comes naturally with experience. But there’s nothing that says you can beat the race and start learning on your own. Whatever your chosen field might be, throw yourself into it.
Learn everything there is to know. Read articles, blogs, books, and magazines. Watch the news, documentaries, or whatever else helps you. The more you know, the more informed and prepared you’ll be when the day comes to show your skills. Learn, learn, learn, and you shall be rewarded.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to improve your career . I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.