One foundational principle of my finance perspective is that your career is your most valuable financial asset.
If you don't believe me, take an average salary (or one you expect to earn), and multiply it by 40 working years (the length of an average career).
Compare that number to all your other assets. Is there anything even close? Probably not.
That's good news. You have a multi-million dollar asset you may not have previously considered!
The better news is that you can take steps to make this asset worth even more. You can make it worth millions more.
I've detailed what it takes to earn those extra millions in my seven steps to millions more, sharing what I did to average 8%+ annual income growth over almost 30 years. These steps are proven and will work overtime for nearly anyone.
Small Steps Towards Career Growth
That said, some folks are intimidated by these steps.
Maybe it's because they think the suggestions require too much effort or time. Or perhaps they see the steps as too complicated. Or perhaps people are simply lazy. There is undoubtedly an air of “I want it fast and easy” in our culture these days.
Whatever the case, I can testify that these steps are worth the effort. They can change your financial life, as shown in the careers of the millionaires I've interviewed the past several years.
However, I want to help even the most reluctant career-grower by offering seven small and easy steps you can take to grow your career.
These won't require much time or effort, and they can have a good payoff. After all, even a 1% annual difference in increases through the years can add up to $1 million or more!
Each of the simple tips below corresponds to one of the seven steps mentioned above. They are meant to put everyone on the path to career growth, one small step at a time.
With that said, here are seven small things you can easily apply to grow your career.
Seven Small Steps to Grow Your Career
1. Set Up an Expectations Meeting With Your Boss.
Of all the seven steps, the first is the most important, in my opinion.
A simple fact of work-life is that you need to deliver more if you want to be paid more. And the only way to achieve “more” is to know what your company and boss expect you to deliver in the first place.
Step one of identifying these expectations is meeting with your boss to get them quantified and in writing. There are follow-up actions, of course, but if you want to get the ball rolling in the right direction, setting up a meeting to chat about what your boss expects is option 1.
By the way, requesting such a conversation with your boss in the first place can often be a career-builder in and of itself. Who doesn't appreciate an employee who wants to make sure she's clear on what the boss expects so she can do more?
2. Do One Kind Act Per Day
Ranked right after being a great performer is being likable. (Some even consider it more important than the work you do!)
This is a more difficult target as there seem to be many ways to earn favor with co-workers, employers, and employees. But almost every article I've ever read on “how to be likable” has at least some element of kindness listed.
Make an effort to do something kind for someone every day. Help out with a project, offer a compliment, give someone the better parking space, remember a birthday, stay late to cover for a co-worker with a sick child, and so forth.
Think about what you'd appreciate if others did it for you, then do those things for them.
If you do, people will not only like you; they'll probably LOVE you! Besides, you'll feel better about your workplace, and your career will thrive.
3. Connect to One New Person Each Day on LinkedIn
The key to a successful network is keeping it growing and active. One way to do this is to add new connections continually.
And with LinkedIn, doing so is very easy.
Make a note to visit LinkedIn each day. Look for past and present connections, then invite them to connect.
I had LinkedIn set up in a tab during my working years every time I opened my browser. It was an easy reminder to make a connection that day.
If a daily commitment is too much, you can set a weekly goal and batch efforts on various days. As long as you make seven new connections each week, you'll still be completing your plan.
In a year, you'll have at least 365 new connections (probably more as others will find you), and your network will be a growing career asset.
4. Work out Several Times a Week.
There's a whole host of research showing the positive benefits of being healthy on your career and finances. But for today, we're focusing on being more attractive — and working out fits the bill here as well.
In addition to keeping you toned and at an appropriate weight (both of which make you more attractive), working out generally makes you happier, which can significantly benefit your “being likable” efforts.
Besides, those who are healthier tend to earn more while also spending less on health-related costs, so hitting the gym not only helps your career but improves your finances in other ways as well.
5. Read a Book (or Listen to One).
While taking up a new course such as one of the online accelerated BSN programs or learning a new skill can be highly beneficial to your career, reading is an excellent way to educate yourself if you don't have time for that.
Pick a book that applies to your job and read it. If that's too much of a commitment, get the audio version and listen to it while driving to work, working out, mowing the lawn, etc.
Recording critical learnings while reading it and selecting at least three ideas to implement. As you do, these efforts should help you perform better, which should be a boost in your efforts to over-perform expectations.
Repeat the process on a manageable schedule (like once every quarter) to multiply your efforts throughout the year.
And if even this simple strategy is too difficult, opt for a podcast or two and use them as your source for growing skills.
6. Review Your Methods for Getting Things Done
What is your process for getting essential tasks accomplished with excellence?
If you don't have one, you need one — a way to determine goals, then break them down into bite-sized tasks, so you deliver more than expected in a timely fashion.
Even if you have your work process finely tuned, an annual review is worth it to see if improvements can be made. After all, it's this process that will help you be the best you can be and ultimately over-deliver (item #1), so always look for ways it can be improved.
I made adjustments to my process almost every year throughout my career, even if it was just a tiny tweak here and there. Doing so made my system much better over time, focusing more time on the actual work itself.
7. Write Down Your Quantifiable Accomplishments Each Month
One key to having a great resume is being sure it's filled with many quantifiable accomplishments.
But there's a problem in making sure the best results are recorded — most people don't update their resumes until they begin actively looking for a job. And it may have been years since the last update, during which many important tasks have been accomplished.
Because of this, it's common for people to forget many of their best accomplishments. Even if these are remembered, going back years later to get specific numbers on what was delivered can be tricky.
To avoid this issue, take 15 minutes each month to record your accomplishments and the results they generated. Then when you need to update your resume, you'll have a great list.
Career Growth is Pretty Simple
That's it. A pretty simple set of tasks, correct? And yet these tiny steps can get you started on the path to making an extra million dollars or more, so they are entirely worth it.
So don't delay. Get to work on these asap, and your career and earnings will grow over the years.