I’m reading the bestselling book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear at the moment as part of our monhtly Book Club in the Career Collaborative. It’s one I’ve been wanting to read for ages because I fully agree with the premise of the book that by working on your small (or “atomic”) habits, you can change who you are as a person and become the person you want to be, and ultimately achieve your goals.
Building good habits are a key component to achieving success in whatever area of your life you choose to focus on. So developing good career habits is essential for achieving success and satisfaction in your professional life.
Habits are the small actions we take every day that collectively shape our lives and by cultivating positive habits, we can create a foundation for success in our careers.
Here’s how. Let’s take a look at some key habits that can help you build a successful career:
Setting goals ( and systems to achieve them). Goals can provide direction and focus, and help you measure progress. They give you a reason for wanting a certain result and whether it’s short-term or long-term, setting achievable goals can help you stay motivated and on track. James Clear also argues in his book that in order to achieve the goals you also need a system to get there, and that is actually where most of the focus on your habits need to go.
Time management: Getting clear when you are going to do the things you say you want to do is crucial. That way you are making it easier to allocate time and space to the activity you have identified as needing to happen. Merely saying you want to do something isn’t going to be enough to turn it into a habit. Instead, regularly looking ahead at what’s coming up, planning your workload, looking to create the space you need – these are the small habits that allow you to make space for the bigger things you want to achieve.
Continuous learning: Learning doesn’t stop once you finish school. Successful people are always looking for ways to improve their knowledge and skills. Whether it’s attending workshops, taking courses, or reading books, continuous learning can help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in your field. So seek them out. Get used to looking for learning opportunities, regularly check in with HR for training sessions coming up, allocate time to talk with your manager about your own learning needs, read a self-development book. Feed your learning habit.
Networking: Building relationships with others in your industry or externally can be beneficial for your career. Attend industry events, join professional organisations, and connect with people on social media. And if that’s too much for you to manage, schedule monthly zoom chats or coffee connections with new or existing colleagues so that you build your network through strengthening your relationships. Networking doesn’t have to be just about events or self-promotion. Find ways that work align with you and do it regularly.
Taking care of yourself: Your physical and mental health are important for your career success. You need energy to do your job well as a basic so taking care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep can help you stay focused and energised. Regular self-reflection and mindfulness practices can also help you manage stress, prioritising exercise, getting comfortable with healthy eating habits, going to bed at the same time every night and getting the amount of sleep that’s right for you. These all feed into a bigger habit of taking time to take care of yourself.
Being proactive: Successful people take initiative and are proactive in their careers. They don’t wait for opportunities to come to them, but instead create opportunities for themselves. Cultivate a proactive mindset. Look for opportunities to add value, lend support and provide solutions even when it’s outside of your role remit. Don’t take no for an answer without first exploring other avenues. Always assume there’s a way through, if you search deeply enough.
Seeking feedback: Feedback is essential for growth and improvement. Seeking constructive feedback from your boss, colleagues, and mentors can help you identify areas for improvement and grow in your career. Rather than just being open to feedback, actively seek it out. Ask colleagues for their views on a piece of work you’ve created, ask for time with your manager to gauge how you’re doing, invite questions after delivering a presentation. Understanding that by opening yourself up to potential criticism is the key to learning how to do things better.
So if you want to have a successful career and aren’t doing any or all of these things I invite you to start incorporating them into your working life, bit by bit. You don’t need a complete overhaul and do away with getting the day job done. This is about the slow build to becoming the professional person you want to be. About getting comfortable with bringing the good, career enhancing stuff in, one step at a time.
So decide today what you want to be? What you want to be known for? What type of person do you want to become? Chances are that person is doing most of the above and overall has good career habits. You can learn them too, you just need to take the first step. Decide what needs to change, say it out loud and allocate the best time to do it. Then rinse and repeat until it becomes embedded as a habit before adding in another one.
Big changes don’t usually happen overnight. Small steps lead to bigger change and it’s especially so with your career. Proving yourself, showing others, and working with others all need a solid understanding of what’s required along with the skills to execute them, and when you’re able to set clear goals, plan your time effectively, make time for learning, build networks, be proactive rather reactive and learn from receiving feedback, then you are in the flow of becoming successful in your career and it’s only a matter of time before you get the recognition you deserve.
Career Empowerment Coach
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