Your manager is not responsible for your career. You are. They are responsible for your output. So waiting until annual review time to determine your goals and accomplishments is not the best idea. Here are 10 things you can do today to improve your career. 1. Set Small Goals Regularly When it comes to annual reviews, there is so much focus on goals for the year. A year is a long time—too long in fact to set tangible, achievable goals. Therefore, it is far wiser to set smaller goals throughout the year. Think about your day-to-day work. What could you be doing to elevate that work? Are there skills you could learn to help you advance? Think about this for a bit and then make a list of goals that relate to these items. And then, once you've set the goals, give yourself a deadline to have learned these things. When you've hit the deadline, give yourself a grade. Seriously. It works. Did you do it? Did you do it well? Then ask someone else how they would score or grade you on these new skills. Then rinse and repeat.
2. Stretch Yourself The smartest of us say that success is just outside of our comfort zone. So it goes without saying that you must stretch beyond your area of expertise. Do something that scares you. Don't like public speaking? Start signing up for presentations at work or networking events. Does it terrify you to put your industry thoughts out there? Ask someone for the opportunity to guest post. Whatever gives you the collywobbles, sign up for it—today. 3. Get Feedback While self-assessment is important, it is also important to get feedback. And it is important to get feedback all the time. For example, at the end of each and every meeting I lead, I ask the following questions:
"What really worked for you?"
"What would make it even better if?"
You can learn a lot from these two questions. So much about your work product and performance can be gleaned from these two questions. Give it a try and see what you learn.
4. Curate Your Work Do you have any idea how many amazing things you've done this year? Probably not, because you aren't curating that great work anywhere to revisit it. There are countless places for you to store this work in a cloud. When you've got a great portfolio of work you've produced and are proud of, it's like writing your resume as you go. It is also easy to share with your manager at review time. You're better prepared to wow them when you've got yourself visual proof of your awesomeness. 5. Be Curious About Your Industry Spend time each and every week as a student of your industry or company. Study your industry and company as if you'll be tested on them. Ask questions of people in your space. Ask your manager and colleagues questions. Ask your company's customers how they feel. Develop thoughtful insights about the industry and your company. And don't be shy about sharing those insights.
6. Read Spend time reading blogs, big and small. Spend time reading books about your profession. Read business books that stretch your thinking. At the end of the day: read! Reading new things can start conversations when you're networking and can also build your own career with new ways to do things and different work and life hacks to make life flow a little more smoothly. 7. Network Brilliantly Never, ever, ever send a standard LinkedIn invite. Ever. We cannot stress this enough. Personalize the message and tell the recipient what you have in common, and how you'd like to help them. If you do not know someone, ask someone in your network for an introduction. Networking brilliantly is about leaving a positive impression. And it isn't just LinkedIn. Attend industry events and local events and meet as many people as you can. This will also help in being curious about your industry.
8. Get A Mentor Mentors are great resources for all of these elements. Need feedback? Ask your mentor. Need to bounce off industry or company insights? Looking for ways to stretch? Mentor! 9. Get A Protégé Conversely, a good protégé can also be a tremendous resource to learn from as well. A protégé can bust some of your paradigms. They can also expose you to new thinking and present you with new ways to solve problems and look at things.
10. ABL (Always Be Listening) Even if you are really happy in your current role, it never hurts to listen to other opportunities and build relationships with new people in the industry. In fact, that's what you're supposed to be doing if you want to grow and improve your career. Always be open to new opportunities and new connections with people, plus it feels really good when you get noticed! Improve your career today by following the tips above! Remember: If you want to win, you've got to work it daily. Looking for more ways to improve your career? We'd love it if you joined our FREE community. It’s a private, online platform where workers, just like you, are coming together to learn and grow into powerful Workplace Renegades. It's time to find work that makes you feel happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. Join our FREE community today to finally become an empowered business-of-one! This article was originally published at an earlier date.