The difference between those who excel and those who coast is not knowledge, it’s action. We all know what we should do, it’s putting that into practice that’s the challenge. And who can blame us? Time and attention are our most scarce resources. There are dozens of tasks vying for our attention at any given moment—with the drone of Twitter and Facebook in the background. Take control by turning your good intentions into successful implementation. Top executives have assistants to remind them of deadlines and make follow-through a reality. While you may not have the overhead to hire an assistant, we all now have many of the tasks assistants perform—automated reminders, centralized task-lists, easy document retrieval—at our fingertips. Mobilize your digital calendar to help you succeed.
Break it down. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Often we don’t even start because tasks feels overwhelming. Prioritizing what’s important and breaking it down into manageable steps can be the bridge between intentions and reality. Spend an approachable amount of time, no more than 30 minutes, making a list of small, concrete steps you could take to strengthen your career outlook. Focus on attainable! “Get a doctorate” should not be on your list, but “research schools” or “talk to associates about their education experience” might be. Once you’ve made a list, select six tasks to start with. Store the list somewhere easily retrievable (such as in an email or in a Google Doc) for your next planning session.
Schedule it out. Put automated reminders in your calendar every two weeks over the next three months prompting you to do one of the tasks you selected. Be sure to select the most helpful method of reminder: a pop up on your phone is easily missed, but an email to your inbox has a little more staying power. Schedule a date to restart the cycle with another planning session.
By taking small, incremental steps, you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish over time. Where could your career be in a year if you made small steps between now and then?
Some ideas to get you started:
Update LinkedIn profile
Set up one networking lunch
Freshen up résumé
Check job postings
Research valuable CE options
Connect with an old colleague you've lost touch with
Write a recommendation for a colleague on LinkedIn
Sign up for a seminar of value to your field
Volunteer for an industry-specific mentoring program
Check in with your college’s alumni association