5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Career

When your parents or teachers asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what did you tell them? An astronaut? A doctor? Batman? Doubtless any of these would be really interesting career paths.  Many people, however, find themselves working jobs they never imagined they would have, and even more express frustration and dissatisfaction in their employment. 

The trick is to keep your career interesting and not just get set in the mold.  When you find yourself in that situation, I find that it is always helpful to take a few steps outside of your comfort zone.

Here are the 5 most effective ways to make the most out of your career: 

Give Yourself Personal Goals

Maybe you didn’t give much thought passed the prospect of finding a job, but once you have a job and get comfortable in your performance and company knowledge then what?  A good idea would be to give yourself a new set of goals.  These can be professional and/or personal in nature, but always having something to reach for can give you a renewed sense of purpose and motivation.  Try going for a higher position that is opening up within the company, or start working towards running a 10K or a marathon.  Whatever the case may be finding time to accomplish your personal goals along with your professional goals will help you become more organized and provide you with a sense of pride in your work and in life. 

Take On A New Challenge

Everybody had butterflies (even sheer terror) the first time you went to ride a roller coaster.  The greatest feeling, however, comes afterwards when you are so full of pride and adrenaline at conquering your fear that you immediately want to go and do it again.  No matter how big or how small, taking on a new challenge can be a scary task, but the reward (experience, character, confidence) is worth the risk.  Try something new; take some of another employee’s workload, or volunteer to lead the next team meeting.  Not only will you be personally rewarded, but you will also make an impression on your boss and coworkers by showing you are willing to take risks and help others. 

Knowledge Is Power

Just because you spent four years reading over textbooks and writing research papers to get your degree, that doesn’t mean it’s time to put down the books.  Furthering your education is important in any respect, and even more so in the modern workforce.  Doctors and pharmacists, for example, must constantly attend educational seminars regarding new drugs that are approved for the market, and lawyers must always be up-to-date on recent changes to the State and Federal laws.  Higher education, however, is not simply limited to taking a college course or participating in a seminar.  You can pick up a newly published book on successful business practice or get a subscription to Time magazine to read in your downtime.  Whether you are at the start-up level or the CEO, everyone can stand to learn something. 

A Question Not Asked Is An Opportunity Missed

Have you ever walked away from a meeting or seminar beating yourself up for not asking the question that you wanted? What made you hesitate? The fact is if you do not ask questions you can never expect to move up or improve your position. A customer service representative, for example, who had a question about a new product but was too afraid to ask at the team meeting is not only doing his or herself a disservice, but they are also hindering the ability of the customer to adequately utilize the product/service and potentially causing a bigger problem for the company to have to deal with later.  You may also miss out on an opportunity for higher learning, personal growth, or even a promotion you did not know was available, so open your mouth and speak up!

Take Pride In Your Work

Your attitude towards your job can really affect how much you enjoy it and how other people perceive your professionalism.  Always be sure to dress punctually and to keep a good posture while you walk or sit (good posture will also help improve your physical and mental wellbeing and make you a more productive employee).  Your attitude (towards work or life) also comes across in your language, whether it’s your body language or your tone of voice.  Especially when dealing with customers, it is important to sound and act professionally, both in-person and on the phone.  Speaking in monotones or slouching with an expressionless face can make you appear uninterested or dull and can hurt yours and the company’s reputation.