Are you determined to make 2022 your best year yet? Here are 22 ideas you can implement immediately to boost your career:
1. Embrace the power trifecta: clarity, consistency & discipline
By focusing on clarity, consistency, and discipline, you’ll improve your communication, enhance your thought leadership, and bolster your personal brand.
If you confuse people, you’ll lose them; when you’re clear, everything becomes easier. People understand you, what you offer, your value, what differentiates you, how you can help them, and how they can assist you. Clarity helps others know, like, and trust you. Having clarity also enables you to align your goals with a plan to achieve them—and stay away from the things that can derail you.
Consistency is about aligning and maintaining your “voice” and look and feel in all your communications. It’s the way you present yourself, the way you sound, the way you write, all of the visual and verbal touch points. So much so that people come to expect—and anticipate—your specific point of view and unique perspective. Whether you realize it or not, you send a message to the world about who you are and what you’re about. Rather than make your consumers, customers, and clients guess who you are and what you stand for, make sure to communicate your intended message by maintaining consistency.
Without discipline, you run the risk of trying to be all things to all people. And doing so lowers your competitive advantage and waters down your offering. Worse, people won’t know what to think of you (if they think of you at all). So instead, focus on what you do best, and let the other things fade into the background. Then, promote those one or two areas in your wheelhouse and your expertise in helping others so that your name becomes synonymous with those skills. In this way, restraint can be your biggest ally.
2. Tell your (career) story
Everyone has a unique story, but not everyone leverages its power. Properly crafted, your career story helps to differentiate you from your competitors, highlight your value, and draw others to you. It provides a common thread that weaves together your personal and professional experiences, as well as your transferable skills, making it easy for others to connect the dots. Knowing and being able to articulate your career story clearly is transformative; use it wisely.
3. Magnify your impact by sharing your wisdom
Wisdom is the ability to think and act using knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. But it transforms into something truly powerful when it is shared.
Why? Because all the wisdom in the world is meaningless without application.
Yet many leaders eschew this and choose instead to hoard their insights, fearful of giving them away. They don’t understand a simple truth: sharing your wisdom doesn’t diminish your impact; it amplifies it. And today, the best way to magnify your message is to harness the power and reach of social media.
4. Listen more than you talk
The benefits of listening are numerous. Active listening demonstrates respect, builds trust, and makes people feel valued. It creates a virtuous cycle: we naturally gravitate toward those who listen to us, and when we feel heard, we open up and share. Active listening also allows leaders to learn about things, both good and bad, to discover new ideas and opportunities. They can also detect—and get creative about solving—potential problems when they’re still in their infancy.
5. Learn to say no...
If you want to grow your career, you need to learn to say no to almost everything (and everyone) that doesn’t excite you, speak to your values, further your mission in life, or help you achieve your goals. Remember, when you say no to the things and people who no longer serve you, you can say yes to those that do.
6. ...But say yes to growth opportunities
Saying yes can be a boon to your career—it opens you up to new challenges and opportunities, invites collaboration, empowers and affirms others, and creates an environment where it’s safe to try, fail, learn and innovate. Best of all, it pushes you to leave your comfort zone so you can grow.
7. Don’t be afraid to fail
Failure and success aren’t mutually exclusive; they’re connected. Leaders use failure as fuel, maintaining grit and perseverance to keep going. By viewing failure as an ingredient of success rather than a negative alternative, you’ll adjust your mindset to a more positive one where you see failure as a necessity.
Consider, too, that making mistakes helps you learn. Your ability to adapt to failures is vital; a failure is only a mistake if you fail to learn. Try keeping a “failure resume” of all your biggest screw-ups—and what you learned.
8. Master time management to be productive (and not just busy)
Your ability to prioritize and focus your attention on tackling work projects is crucial. How and with whom you spend your time and your productivity while doing so demonstrate your focus and commitment to what—and who—matters most. When you master time management, you’ll see that not all tasks are created equal. Busy people take on everything and offer unfettered access to their time, expertise, and attention, leaving them exhausted and wondering what they’ve accomplished. Productive people set boundaries and protect their time, treating it like the valuable and precious commodity it is.
9. Become more self-aware
Self-aware leaders clearly understand their strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. They are honest about what they want, their skills, and what matters most to them. They also have an accurate perception of what sets them apart and can use their unique talents to magnify their impact in an environment that best suits them. Conversely, they also understand and acknowledge their blind spots and areas needing improvement.
But self-awareness is not just about knowing how you move through the world; it’s about knowing how your energy affects others. This perspective allows you to understand that everything is connected—your interactions with other people, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment—and all enhanced through better self-awareness.
10. Lead with your curiosity
When you’re curious, you’re open. Open to exploring new ideas, experiences, and possibilities. Open to meeting new people and learning new things. Open to leaving behind outdated mindsets and limiting beliefs to make room for your highest and best self. And it’s that openness—that curiosity—that fuels growth. When you embrace curiosity, you transform into a lifelong learner, which is what personal and professional growth is all about.
11. Smile more
You already possess a simple yet profoundly powerful way to instantly improve your career: smiling. Research shows that smiling puts others at ease, makes you magnetic, inspires confidence and trust, is good for you, makes you more creative, and is contagious.
12. Tap into your creativity
Creativity is the ability to perceive the world in new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections between seemingly disparate things, and generate innovative solutions. When you’re creative, you’re able to turn new and imaginative ideas into reality. To cultivate your creativity, ask big questions, pay attention, be open-minded, set aside time to let your mind wander, and don't be afraid to take risks.
13. Practice empathy
To become more empathetic, shift your mindset to put people first, seeing them as human beings rather than a means to the end of a transaction or task. In addition, listen more and talk less, and ask thoughtful and probing questions that draw out implications and feelings, fostering a deeper connection. When you practice empathy, you’ll better understand your customers, colleagues, and partners and then be able to use those insights in ways to better serve and communicate with them.
14. Change your perspective through reframing
Your perspective is the lens through which you view yourself, your career, and the world. It affects the story you tell yourself and the story you tell others, especially when things don’t do your way. Shift your thinking to reframe trying times by telling yourself “I’m going through this” to “I’m growing through this” and swap “have to” with “get to.” Going through something is deflating and passive, whereas growing through something is action-oriented, positive, and empowering. And when you swap out an “I have to” with “I get to,” everything changes. Having to do something feels like a chore; getting to do something feels like a reward.
15. Acknowledge four magic words to communicate and connect better
Far too often, we assume that everyone thinks, behaves, and communicates the same way we do. Worse, we make the mistake of focusing our sales pitches and communication about us rather than our intended audiences.
No matter your industry or profession, four words have the power to change your results instantly: It’s not about you.
The finest leaders understand that by putting others first and adopting a service mindset, they can improve their communication and connection, establish trust, deepen relationships, and build business.
16. Increase your charisma
Charisma is more than being engaging or witty. We’re attracted to those who truly listen to us, who give us their undivided focus and leave us feeling seen and heard. They dare to be vulnerable and genuinely want to connect, share, and treat us with respect and kindness. And in return, we offer our unwavering attention and trust.
At its essence, charisma isn’t just about your likability or ability to tell a good story. Instead, its real power has less to do with you and everything to do with how you make others feel.
17. Dare to be a “career contrarian”
“Career contrarians” share the ability to adopt an often unpopular perspective and make it work for them. Instead of conforming to conventional or practical approaches, education, or paths, they seek alternative means to career fulfillment. This means they realize that there is more than one path to success (and it’s probably non-linear), are comfortable being uncomfortable (even, and especially, when they fail), trust their gut, play the long game, eliminate the negative self-talk, and understand that taking an alternative path may inspire someone else to do it as well.
18. Focus on attention and trust
Seth Godin suggests that “you don’t get attention unless you’re trusted. You don’t get trusted unless you get attention.”
Kindness and respect ultimately earn attention and trust. You can demonstrate both by differentiating between bad and good attention (something that aligns with your beliefs and will be positively received), not trying to game the system (don’t use a power play to try to influence people), and by being generous (not selfish, expecting something in return).
19. Simplify things to make them easy for others
Despite their similarities, simple isn’t always easy; it takes discipline and a conscious effort to make something less confusing, complex, and difficult to understand or do. But in the context of your career, it’s worth it.
When you do the hard work of simplifying things for your intended audience—your boss, partner, client, prospect, or potential employer—you make it easy for them to do business with you.
20. Set your intention
In a world where everyone is looking to get ahead by beating the algorithm or upping their level of hustle, the biggest growth hack might be the one hiding in plain sight: harnessing the power of intention.
It’s been said that what you focus on grows, so it follows that where you choose to direct your attention can significantly impact your career progress. Attention without intention is meaningless, so you must consciously decide to align your attention with what matters most to you.
21. Invest in yourself
You’ll never regret investing in yourself. Your ability to adapt and learn is essential to the survival and growth of your career, so make a conscious effort to add to your skillset by reading books, watching educational videos, listening to informative podcasts, and furthering your development by partnering with coaches. Use your curiosity to seek out new ideas, information, and perspectives, even (and especially) if they differ from your own.
22. Move past your fear and take action
Fear is a powerful emotion. It often masquerades as a cloak of protection, keeping us from doing things that may cause us harm. But sometimes, the real damage comes from the inaction that fear enables.
Taking action is the one surefire antidote to combat career anxiety, doubt, and fear. Action begets more action. When you use awareness to make action an intentional habit, you train yourself to continue to take action. Over time, those small behavior changes creatively shake things up and breathe new life into old methods and routines. And combined with focused action, that newfound clarity will bring you something even better: success.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear; now’s the time to take action to supercharge your 2022.