Get better – Invest in Yourself

Getting ahead is easy when you can afford a college degree, or you have been sponsored for a learning program. In a state, where you may not have the choice to invest any extra amount, how do you manage to get better?  Consider, the following customs to invest on yourself without putting any extra money within the time frame you have.

Look within: In the words of Dolf de Roos, “The most expensive piece of real estate is the six inches between your right and left ear. It’s what you create in that area that determines your wealth. We are only really limited by our mind.”

  1. Focus on what you want, whether it is the Corner office or the expert in your field. Find your alignment. Everyone wishes to be a CEO, but not everyone succeeds at it when they get there.
  2. Decide what is important for you, what you are best at and you find an inner calling at it. In every appraisal form write your career plan, including the areas that will let you grow. A promotion is always a priority, but that’s what everyone would be planning for. Focus on the area of expertise, where you can become the unchallenged leader, plan your growth in that area. When you are best at what you are doing, the promotion will come to you.
  3. For eg: If you have a sales position, focus on learning, how to sell slow moving goods with higher percentage returns. If you excel at that, your sales target achievement would be higher than the average team members. Hence you would automatically be allowed to guide the team. If you are an HR, learn how to quantify your tasks. As you are supporting business you would be measured through the value you create.

Plan and work towards it: The secret to productive goal setting is in establishing clearly defined goals, writing them down and then focusing on them several times a day with words, pictures and emotions as if we’ve already achieved them.”-Denis Waitley

  1. If your career doesn’t allow you to make drastic changes, take baby steps. You may have a full time job with no choice to go for the next level education, be it MBA or Ph.D. You may not even have that luxury even to plan for it in the next few years. So look for opportunities in the current role.
  2. Get the mindset of an MBA or a Researcher. Create the map identifying the areas for knowledge. Start your on the job learning and maintain a note for it. Look for communities where the discussions related to your future studies are been done. Learn from the contribution made by others. Find a mentor for yourself. As noted by Tom Peter’s, Make your personal learning university with everyone a faculty to it. No sooner or later you will find yourself on the road to a greater learning. This would make your knowledge concrete when you start the course.
  3. Excelling is what you aim for when you get there. In the words of Napoleon Hill “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”At times you may lose a track of all that you are learning. Do not fuss over it. Gather yourself at any point of time and include the new understandings you have gained in between.
  4. For e.g.: If you are into recruitment and wish to be shifted to Generalist HR role, then take up a voluntary role in the department. You may not get paid for the initiative, but your take away is ‘on-the-job learning’ and paving your way to the role. In case you don’t have that option, offer your service for free to a non-profit organization where similar initiatives are required. Intern in that role and share it in your next appraisal form. 

Accept failures: George Patton said “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

  1. Delays, disruptions and collapses are inevitable. It can be from any type including failure at your new learning, over load of your work, a transition and a demotion.
  2. Make failures and the gap work for you. Re-focus every time you fall out off the line. Document all that you have learnt so far. Revisiting your learning will make you realise every gap you had and mitigate it.  Help someone learn from you. Even if it does not bring you any extra money, it will gain you the credibility of an expert. Next time when you resume in your role, you would be ahead of the position you were.

Emotional and mental resilience: When you are emotionally successful, nothing can hold you down. Every bully or hostility will wane eventually. Travel ahead in time to measure your conduct.  Visualize, how you would want to look back at your actions and decision taken today, five years from now. Keep your expectation real. “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”-Peter T. McIntyre. Remove your fears by mitigating them.

Destination: The destination remains great, till reached. Get realistic about it and be there in your mind. The promotion that you have worked for will come to you, but may not give you the exact hike you had wished. Worst even if you are promoted, you may not be given all the authorities which you had imagined. On the top, you would have few more people burning the candle from both the sides. The new reportees will have their expectation from you and the management would expect you to be firm. Any bonus distribution or task allocation may not always be your choice, yet require you to take a tough call. In a situation like that, you are more likely to end up as a burnout, if you don’t see them coming before hand. At that point re-focus and start your journey to your next goal and keep getting better at it.

Eventually, follow through and reflect on the process connecting it to the bigger picture. No matter how lost you may feel at times, you are learning something new every moment.  Study the pattern and connect it with the learning you had aimed for. Every day is another opportunity for you to invest, “Do what you do, using your talents and abilities because it makes you happy. In everything you do, have a purpose, principle or ideal that you hold dear and will not compromise if the price is right.” Iyanla Vanzant

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