If you don’t know how to achieve these aspirations, those types of goals only set you up for disappointment. Here are ten specific steps that will take you to the next level of your career:
1. Take a “risk,” and fail.
You learn from doing something incorrectly or not getting a desired result. To advance and lead, you have to take risks and seek opportunities to continuously learn. Don’t let the possibility of failure hinder you from acting and increasing your knowledge and chances for success.
2. Reach out to someone new.
Expand your network. The more people you know, the greater the opportunities that are available to you. A small, strong network is great. A big network with weak ties is even better. Acquaintances provide bridges to other networks and areas of new information. Weak connections can create opportunities that will not be known to you.
3. Put your hat in the ring.
You don’t need to know everything or have done everything to be “ready.” You are “ready” when you know you can figure out what you don’t know. Apply for a job or award for which you may have felt you did not meet all the requirements. To compete, sometimes you have to be confident before you feel fully competent.
You don’t have to have an original idea to start writing. Most people have ideas – few put them down on paper. Lead the way, and take a path that many others don’t and write down your ideas. As a start, publish your thoughts on LinkedIn or other blog host sites.
5. Speak publicly.
To advance, you must develop your communication skills and be seen. Public speaking allows you to do just that. Speaking, like writing, also helps you to be seen by others as an expert.
6. Be selfish.
Do something you want to do. It is easy to get stuck being responsive to other people’s needs and neglect your own priorities and desires. To be a better professional, complete a project or invest in professional development that will benefit your career, not others. Doing something of your own will help you position yourself for what you want next in your career.
7. Speak up for someone else.
The success of your career cannot depend on you alone. If you want help with your career, you must be willing to support the advancement of others’ careers. Recommend your colleague for a project or a committee position, and let the person know that you spoke up. They may be able to help you when you could use support.
8. Say “no.”
If you want to be seen as a leader, say “no” to establish your priorities and boundaries. Accepting opportunities can lead to new opportunities, but saying “no” once in a while lets people know you are not a doormat. Don’t let people make decisions for you. Keep your decision-making power to yourself.
9. Stay current with the news.
Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth, to keep up with the news. Subscribe to a daily newsletter like theSkimm, or commit to regularly perusing the news from a reputable outlet. The news makes you more aware of the world and potential opportunities that exist.
For example, you read in the news that Amazon decided on building their second headquarters in your city. This information may lead you to think about career opportunities at the company or a potential partnership with the new company in town that will heighten awareness of your organization.
10. Give yourself a mental break.
Let your mind wander. A mental break may be the key to identifying opportunities, suggests Manoush Zomorodi, the author of Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self. Studies show people get their most original ideas when they are not being constantly stimulated and that smartphones inhibit one's ability to set goals.
Sometimes, knowing your ultimate goal can make it difficult to see the path that can lead you there. To get yourself going in the right direction and advance your career, use this checklist to position yourself for opportunities.