How to Set Yourself Up for a Productive Career

Estimated reading time: 6 mins

When your goal is to end up with a career you enjoy and can feel truly rewarded by, working on your personal traits is just as important in the long run as is developing your skills. You may be the best candidate around in terms of what you’re capable of, but that won’t mean much if you’re not in full control of your abilities, emotions, and generally every aspect of your life. There are some points that people tend to consider far too late in their careers, leading to situations where they’re stuck in a position they can’t perform properly in, with no visible way out.

Leadership Skills Can Benefit Everyone

Many people wrongly see leadership skills as something reserved for those with aspirations for such positions – in other words, if you don’t see yourself as a manager or director in the future, why should you invest in developing yourself in that direction in the first place?

The truth is that if you want to see true development and growth in your career, you’ll eventually want to find yourself in a position where you’re leading others and sharing your views with them. You don’t want to be yet another cog in the system forever, and if you don’t start developing those skills in yourself now, it will be too late when those opportunities present themselves.

Plus, this could help swing things the other way around too – if the people in charge of your company see that you’re more capable of making important decisions than others and that you have some clear skills related to leading and managing a group of workers, you’ll be a far more favorable candidate for promotions. Every time you’re given a chance to prove yourself by leading others through some minor part of a project, this will reflect on your name positively and, sooner or later, people are going to start associating you with quality leadership skills. Even if those aren’t the people directly responsible for your promotions, you can rest assured that the information is going to make its way to them one way or another.

Look into Six Sigma

Consider the benefits of a methodology like Six Sigma as well. You may not see the benefits in implementing it in your current line of work, but the truth is that learning how to optimize processes and develop them in a more structured and organized way from the ground up is a very valuable skill that can find a place in a variety of industries and environments. Even if you don’t see the actual “processes” in whatever it is you’re doing, it won’t take long after starting a professional course in Six Sigma for those systems to reveal themselves to you.

More and more people keep realizing how powerful this methodology can be when applied to various workplaces, and there’s a reason why so many companies are starting to focus heavily on integrating Six Sigma into their own practices. Even if you don’t directly apply anything you’ve learned to your work, it should at least open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking, one that’s focused on optimization and squeezing the most out of every single process within your organization. That alone can make a huge difference in how you approach your work on all levels, in some cases, in very subtle ways that you may not even realize.

Be in Control of Your Emotions

This is yet another aspect of modern work that many people consider far too late, or even worse, don’t consider at all. Emotional intelligence training is something that can make a huge difference in how you perform in your work, and not just when you have to cooperate with others either. For example, you’ll be able to avoid the common problem of letting your emotions get in the way of reasonable thinking, something which has probably ruined a good number of businesses in the past. Learning how to respond to situations in a carefully thought-out manner and understanding your own emotions is one of the best things you could do for yourself to improve your chances on the job market.

This is something that will spill over into your private life as well, and the benefits of improving yourself with emotional intelligence training are immense. Look into emotional intelligence training options here if you’re not sure where to start and remember that the first step is usually the most important one when it comes to dealing with something like this. Once you’ve decided that you want to get your emotions under control and have started to move towards that goal, things will align much more smoothly.

It’s also a self-reinforcing loop – the better you get at controlling your emotions and understanding where they’re coming from, the easier it will be for you to progress along that way. Emotional intelligence is something that you only need a small dose of to realize its full benefits, and from then on, you’ll feel motivated to continue along that path on your own without anyone having to push you additionally. Just make sure that you put enough effort into your actual training, as simply reading the materials is far from enough – you need to invest yourself deeply in order to make it work.

Start Networking as Early as Possible

Last but most certainly not least, you’ll want to start networking as early as you can in your career. This is something many people seem to postpone over and over again until eventually, they find themselves in a position where they need the benefits of a strongly established network of contacts, yet it’s too late to start building one.

It doesn’t have to even be forced in any way. Just make it a point to talk more actively with the people around you, especially any new contacts that you establish along the way. As long as you keep making the right impression on everyone, your name will start going around sooner or later. And once you’ve reached that point, you’ll suddenly find yourself with many more opportunities in front of you than you had before. However, this won’t happen on its own. You have to put your foot in the door and make your name known to others as much as you can.

You should also eventually start doing it in a more organized manner. Filtering out the contacts that you feel are dragging you down is just as important as building new ones in the long run, and you don’t want to invest too much time into the wrong kinds of relationships. It might hurt when it’s someone that’s been at your side for some time, but you have to remember that you’re the most important thing in this ordeal.

There is a myriad of things you can do to improve yourself on the job market and create better opportunities for future personal growth. It’s not just about learning the next big skill that’s on your list. In fact, you can learn a good portion of those along the way as you’re working. But the various supporting skills and personality traits that people value in a potential high-value job candidate are completely different and separate from that, and they require a strong focus as well.

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