With eyes and hopes pinned on the new year to provide better career prospects, one must not forget that what makes a career successful is often our own abilities and persistence. That is why for even those who are not looking to change jobs this year, there are many ways that can help them advance professionally and get ahead while their remain in their jobs.
The secret perhaps is to always keep your focus on gaining new knowledge and advancing your skills. By doing so, you will be sure that every day is adding and polishing your experience. The risk that many employed people run is to settle into a routine – where work run nearly without much effort and they let their creativity and enthusiasm ebb until it becomes hard to feel inspired to passionate about the work they do.
To avoid this fate and to make sure this year adds to your professional success, here are a few ideas to bring in new energy into an old job:
Fix a pending issue
This is not a change for the sake of change. As perfect as your work procedures may seem, there should be one thing or more that has been pushed aside and forgotten – even though it remains a drag on your productivity. This can be an administrative load, a new hire who needs training, a dated archiving system, or the like. Pick up one thing and fix it. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fully broken to be fixed – against the conventional wisdom. Small upgrades here and there can add up to a much better work environment, higher productivity and happier staff. All you need is to start with one item at a time. The one accomplishments you get done, the more you will be encouraged to take on new tasks and get the rewards for your efforts.
Learn something new
With busy schedules and lives, learning – in the form of training or otherwise — is often pushed down the road or taken only when it is absolutely mandatory. This year, invest in yourself. Keep training one of your job goals. If your company can’t afford outside training, ask for internal training from a superior or team leader who may be in position to show you the ropes in a new area. Take initiatives in looking for free or discounted webinars or online training courses that are offered by professional networks in your industry. Combine this professional learning with something personal, as well. Learning a new language, following a new work-out regime or even reading a book on a new topic can go a long way in bringing you a new energy.
Get the overall picture
Think big. Although we all need just to get our jobs done, understanding the factors that control the economy, our individual industries and therefore, our jobs can help us understand the overall picture. How does that help with your career? Don’t expect a direct cause-and-effect result. However, people who have a better understanding of what controls corporate decisions and impacts the market and the competition are likely to be able to foresee any imminent changes that might eventually affect their individual jobs. In addition, they may be able to put decisions made by corporate heads into perspective – even if they don’t fully back them. Getting this knowledge can also help you stay ahead of the curve if you decide to look for a job by knowing – as much as it can be foreseen — what to expect next in your industry.
Volunteer your time
Whether you choose to volunteer in a professional organization, a social institution or a charity, you can still benefit greatly – professionally and personally. While the personal points are self-explanatory, the professional advantages are mostly a result of the new skills that you develop in working beyond your workplace, the contacts that you’d otherwise be unlikely to meet and the fact that the more exposure you get, the better you can be in viewing your business and finding innovative ways to handle your own tasks. That is why a volunteer job that doesn’t have to be too demanding can pay off – indirectly – in various forms. The most important step is to invest your time full-heartedly and don’t expect to get back immediate rewards or benefits.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is currently a journalist based in Seattle.