Feeling Stuck? Here’s How to Advance Your Career

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Have you hit a plateau at work? Do you desire something new, challenging, maybe even exciting?

Are you struggling to create the type of robust compensation for the lifestyle you dream of? Do you have bigger ambitions, but you’re not sure how to achieve them?

Hitting a career plateau is not a crisis, but it can feel like one if you don’t address it. When not addressed, it can quietly turn into a “rut,” or worse, a “grave.”

If this resonates with you, here are steps to help you start living your best version of yourself instead!

Step 1: Create a Vision

Create a clear vision for your life and your business. While this step can be simple, it’s also critical. You’ll use your vision to align your role at your company with your goals and to ensure you’re spending your time in ways that are meaningful to you.

Your vision should describe how you spend your time.

While a vision can aim towards a career title, a vision should be more.

Your personal vision should describe what is important to you in how you spend your time.

Outline key elements that are important to you.

A vision can be a couple of sentences that outline key elements of your life that are important to you.

If you would like to go into more depth, you can write several sentences around three major categories that are most important to you.

You might write:

  • a vision for your role in your family
  • a vision for how you want to contribute to your community
  • a vision for your career

List short term goals and long term goals.

Your vision should include short term goals (2-3 years out), as well as long term goals (10 or 50 years out).

Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year but seriously underestimate what they can accomplish in 10 years.

Don’t be afraid to think long term.

Step 2: Share Your Goals

Many employees mistakenly believe that they need to move to another company in order to advance their career path. Before you consider leaving, give your employer a chance to help you grow.

The best way to do this is to share your desire for more meaningful work with your manager.

Share your vision with your supervisor.

If you have a vision that you’re working towards, you should share it with your direct supervisor or a leader inside of your organization.

Good leaders will care about your vision and take steps to help you achieve it. In order to tap into this opportunity, you first need to articulate your vision directly and clearly.

Bring a written document to your meeting.

Ask for a meeting to sit down with your boss to share your vision and goals. It should be a scheduled time that you set aside to specifically address the topic.

At the meeting, bring a document so that they can both listen and read your goals.

Your objective in this meeting is to impart on your boss what your aspirations are. Once they understand your goals, they can help you find assignments and opportunities inside your company or community that will enable you to achieve them.

Schedule another meeting for next month or next quarter.

Before you complete your meeting, plan a set of action items and get another meeting on the books so you can share the advancements you made.

Request to meet with your supervisor every month or every quarter so you’ll have consistent opportunities to track progress and set new action items.

Reach out to mentors, friends and family.

It’s important to have external mentors and share your vision with friends and family. They can help you stay on course if they understand what you’re trying to achieve.

Step 3: Network

Connect and engage with others in your community who have achieved the level of meaningful work you desire and who are achieving impactful growth.

Get engaged in your community.

Find an affiliate organization to socialize with.

These groups are great opportunities to learn new skills, help others, and acquire business leads. Beyond this, networking in your community can transform your career in exciting ways that you haven’t even imagined!

Find out when their next meeting is and attend it!

Visit these organizations’ websites, look up the club in your area, find out when their next meeting is, and just attend it.

You can also find out about professional and social opportunities on Eventbrite and Meetup.

Consider joining a mastermind group.

Mastermind groups can be a powerful networking tool, especially if you thrive on close relationships or feel engaged in smaller groups. Masterminds tend to consist of 12 people or less and often meet on a monthly or biweekly basis.

You can find a mastermind group that focuses on your industry, or you can join a group comprises of people in a variety of industries. Group members usually share progress updates on a consistent basis, and they give each other advice and encouragement. This helps members stay focused their business strategy and keep taking action on a consistent basis.

If you happen to live in the Boise, Idaho area, you can look into whether one of the Deliberate Directions Whetstone mastermind groups could be a good fit for you.

Step 4: Identify Needed Improvements

Identify what immediate improvements you can start making to reflect your desired vision.

Find a mentor.

Find someone who can mentor you in the areas that you’re looking to bolster up.

Look for someone who already has the skills you’re looking to build, or who has achieved the next level of success that you’re aiming for in your career.

Identify resources and books that will help you.

Identify resources and books that you can start to acquire knowledge that you’re looking for.

We have a fantastic list of books covering business, leadership, and personal development that we recommend reading.

Learn from seminars, workshops, community classes, and the Internet.

Also consider attending local seminars and classes that might be available in your local community.

Don’t forget, the internet is an amazing tool and many of the best resources available on it are completely free.

Many industry leaders and businesses share valuable information in blog posts, YouTube videos, and affordable online courses on platforms like Udemy and SkillShare.

Step 5: Create an Action Plan

Create an action plan for steps you will take over the next 90 days that will move you towards your vision.

Identify 3-5 goals to accomplish during a 90-day sprint.

Substantial research shows that 90 days is the perfect increment of time to set and accomplish goals. 12 weeks. One quarter.

Begin by identifying three—no more than five—major goals that you’d like to focus on during a particular 90-day period.

Write down action steps and calendar them out.

Write SMART goals that specify the exact steps you need to take to accomplish your larger goals.

Finish planning by calendaring out your steps over the upcoming 12 week period.

Step 6: Take Action

You decided to make changes in your life. You made a plan to advance your career. Now take action!

Work your plan one week at a time.

Take the steps that you wrote down for yourself in your daily or weekly plan. Don’t rush. Just go one step at a time one week at a time.

In 12 weeks you will accomplish your goals simply by the effort of being clear about what you want to spend your time on.

Look for small wins.

The consistency of your daily “baby steps” are key to achieving your ultimate goals. Recognizing and celebrating small wins gives you the opportunity to reward and reinforce this consistency.

First, understand what is moving you forward. If you’re a salesperson, then your personal goals might be to book 5 meetings and have 5 meaningful conversations. When you book new meetings on your calendar, celebrate them. When you have these conversations, be grateful that they happened.

If you only envision your wins as the rare moments when revenue is earned or a huge project is completed, you’ll miss rewarding yourself for the incremental progress you make.

Small wins gives us a sense of progress toward larger goals. This builds enthusiasm and makes us want to continue. You’ll need this enthusiasm if you want to achieve substantial goals that can take hundreds of hours to complete.

Achieving your goals is a fluid process.

The most important thing to keep in mind while you’re trying to build momentum towards your goals is that it is a fluid process. Planned activities might change from one week to the next.

The way that you think you’re going to succeed sometimes doesn’t work out, but you can still succeed another way.

In the 90-day planning process that we use at Deliberate Directions, our clients put their weekly activities on sticky notes.

If, at Week 4, you didn’t accomplish a particular task, you can just peel the task’s sticky note off and you decide where it goes. You can even decide to peel off a sticky if it’s no longer valid.

Reassess and do the next most logical action.

Momentum is sometimes the permission to know when something is not going to work out exactly as you initially thought it would, but continuing to work toward your goal anyway.

New information happens all of the time. If you hit a wall, reassess where you’re at, then do the next most logical action to move forward. Or change your plan if needed.

If you struggle to make progress, reorganize your schedule or assess the goal itself.

If you’re struggling to make progress, or just failing to achieve your goal at the end of 90 days, it’s usually due to one of two reasons:

  • You’re not carving out enough time to work toward your goal.
  • You’ve set a goal that is not really important to you.

To deal with these issues, ask yourself:

  • How can I reorganize my time schedule to make time to work towards my goal?
  • Do I know the exact steps I need to follow to achieve my goal, or should I break down the steps further?
  • Do I truly care about this goal? Or is it just someone else’s expectation that I’m trying to live up to?
  • Is the goal written in a way that is meaningful to me?

Having a mentor or coach to bounce ideas off of can be very helpful in finding answers to these questions.

Step 7: Realign Every 90 Days

Realigning your career and business every 90-days keeps you on track so you can easily make improvements to reach your vision.

Find 10 successes in your last 90 days.

Every 90 days identify your top 10 successes that you’ve just experienced. This helps you to be grateful, relish the success, and consider what actions led to those successes.

Evaluate your actions.

Take a step back and write down:

  • 3-5 things you need to stop doing that are preventing you from achieving your goals
  • 3-5 things that you want to continue doing because they’re part of the successes you’ve experienced
  • 3-5 things you might need to start doing to achieve your next 90-day goals

Choose rewards for your goals.

Give yourself rewards as you hit certain milestones in your plan. Look for reward opportunities that fit with your priorities and budget.

Rewards don’t have to be expensive or big. It could be treating yourself to a specialty coffee or a new pair of shoes. Or, in some cases, it might be finally taking your family on a big vacation.

See what you achieved, perhaps by writing a letter to your future self.

A simple reward can be very meaningful. One idea is to write a letter to your future self, which you’ll open once you’ve completed your 90 day plan.

During the final week of your 90-day plan, you’ll get to see how what you imagined 12 weeks ago has finally translated into achievement. It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on where you want to go in the future, so it’s powerful and inspiring to us to remember where we started and see how far we’ve come.

Could You Use Personalized Guidance?

Deliberate Directions works with high growth executives and business owners. We help our clients establish a personal vision, set goals, plan 90-day sprints, overcome challenges, and realign when needed.

If you’ve hit a plateau and are ready for a reboot or realignment, you’re welcome to schedule a free one-on-one conversation to talk about advancing your career.

Do you know someone who could benefit today from this free information?

Do you have a friend, colleague, coworker, or assistant who could use this information RIGHT NOW to grow their career or business?

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Feeling Stuck? Here’s How to Advance Your Career

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