This past year has been challenging in many different ways. But in a time when so many things are changing, there are also plenty of new opportunities to grow your career in 2021. With all the volatility around us, it’s a surprisingly conducive environment for reflecting on our careers and future plans.
We’ve learned valuable lessons around just how flexible we can be. We’ve realized that it’s easy to take things for granted until you can’t anymore. We’ve recognized the importance of investing in yourself and your own wellbeing.
Despite unemployment levels of 6.7% (almost double the rate at the beginning of last year), most businesses expect a strong economic outlook for the rest of this year. Industries are evolving and adapting quickly, changing the way we experience work. Now, we’re taking this opportunity to reflect on trends for this year and beyond.
Now’s the time to prepare yourself for career success! So what exactly can you do to grow your career this year?
We asked top career growth experts to find out:
1. Establish healthy habits
There's a common thread with career growth, and I tend to say it lies within our habits. Whether you want to beat burnout or change careers, cultivate these habits in 2021: respecting your sleep, listening well, and learning how to be courageous. Building your personal brand and attracting aligned opportunities are all great but habits lead us there.
–Rachel Montañez, Career Coach
Start small and be consistent. Building the right habits is integral to any long-term success. And learning to build healthy habits is a skill you can use for the rest of your life. Whether you’re trying to eat better, learn a new skill, or keep up daily tasks, you’ll need to establish the right habits.
There are plenty of places to start, but one of my favorite habit-building methods, the “Seinfeld Strategy,” is a pretty simple one. In not so many words, this strategy is based on using a physical calendar and marking off successful completions each day. Once you get started, you’ve only got one job: don't break the chain.
For more on habits, check out Atomic Habits by James Clear.
2. Approach your career with positive outlook
Consider what I refer to with my clients as an energy-first approach; look at the energy you're bringing to anything you do in your career. If you're honest with yourself about that energy or attitude you're coming from (getting vs giving, unworthiness vs worthiness, etc), your results will likely make sense. Then, reverse-engineer your messaging and strategy from the place of embodying the energy you want to have (confident, trustworthy, whatever it may be). It may sound touchy-feely but it's effective. This is exactly the work I do with the most senior level executives I coach.
–Emma Garrett, Executive Coach
Your thoughts have a huge influence on your future outlook and actions. This year is the perfect time to shift your mindset to positivity and work towards your full potential.
We can do things that either amplify our motivation and enthusiasm, or we can dwell on negativity in a way exhausts us. Instead of trying to argue with the reality of a situation, consider what impact you can create with the things you can change.
3. Check in with yourself
Navigating unexpected career change is our new normal. It's so important to check in with ourselves often to ensure we know our own career pulse. The check-ins help us self-soothe, gather courage to take next steps, and quiet our minds to inspire the next round of creative thinking. That's how we'll make bold decisions to grow our careers.
–Kalyn Wilson, CEO at Dream Forward Consulting
It’s easy to get caught up in the grind and focus on your work without really thinking about yourself. So, when’s the last time you took the time to reflect on your career?
There are natural moments when we reflect on our careers, often on our work anniversaries, birthdays, the end of the year, and even reunions. However, a real career check-in with yourself is more deliberate than that. Imagine how powerful it would be to ask yourself key questions every quarter.
Consider booking some time on your calendar with yourself! Use a career self-assessment or get in touch with a career coach to determine your best course of action in making the right decisions to guide your career.
Grow your career by growing yourself. Center yourself in your career and not your employer. Self-awareness is key. Getting feedback is key. Celebrating your present, enjoying the journey and pushing towards the future is key.
–Latesha Byrd, CEO of Byrd Career Consulting
4. Know your why
Don't ask 'what' you want to do before you ask 'why'. So many of us are trying to make money, to increase wealth -- without realizing we could bankrupt our souls along the way. When you know your 'why', that thing that is worth living and dying for, you will grow the most imperative traits of focus, integrity, reliability, and heart.
–Branden Polk, CEO and Founder of Arrowhead Advising
You probably know that a sense of purpose in work is important, but did you know that engaged employees are 2.4 times more likely than their peers to be regularly shown how their work contributes a larger purpose?
This past year has been exhausting, and we’re all feeling more overwhelmed and anxious at work. To survive and eventually thrive, we need to understand what fuels us. To be truly fulfilled at work, you need need to feel like your actions have a greater purpose. Consider if your personal values line up with your organizations lived values. Take time to understand the impact you're making and how that lines up with your own mission.
We’ve all been impacted by the global events of 2020, but this year is rife with opportunity. And it can only go up from here, right?
Bet on yourself this year by establishing the right habits, pushing for a positive outlook, checking in, and knowing your purpose. It’s up to you to prepare a strong foundation for the future.
What will you do to grow your career this year?