Most people want to excel in their careers but can feel overwhelmed by the challenge of finding enough time for professional development. But making career progress doesn’t have to involve multiple-hour blocks. Instead, try these seven simple ways to do it in under 60 minutes:
1. Add to your knowledge base
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 taking continuing education classes. Use your curiosity to seek out new ideas, information, and perspectives, even (and especially) if they differ from your own. This opens your world to new ideas and possibilities, keeps you current with trends in your industry (or the industry you’d like to join), and gives you interesting fodder for chatting up your colleagues and clients. Aim to be a lifelong learner, and you’ll up your knowledge base—and value.
2. Hire a professional
Is there an area of your career where you struggle or seem to need extra assistance? Going it alone can be an exercise in futility. Instead of needlessly spinning your wheels, enlist the help of a professional who will coach you through your stumbling blocks or to whom you can outsource a professional need. An hour spent with an expert now can save you time, money, and headache later.
3. Make clarity your bestie
Spend an hour reviewing and editing your profiles, website, and resume. Ask yourself if they offer an accurate and relevant representation of you or leave people confused and scratching their heads.
Remember, your aim is not to try to be all things to all people (which only makes you a watered-down version no one wants) but to be something specific to a special few. So don’t be afraid to niche down and get hyper-specific about what you do, who and how you serve, and what sets you apart. This will draw the right people to you and send the wrong ones on their way.
By embracing clarity, you’ll do the hard work of simplifying things for your intended audience—your boss, partner, client, prospect, or potential employer— making it easy for them to do business with you.
4. Get moving
Like muscles, our imagination tends to atrophy when not used. Conquer both by leaving your home or office for an early morning run, a midday walk to a local park, or an after-work sweat session at the gym. Along with strengthening your body, a workout has the added benefit of clearing your mind, allowing you to find new solutions and inspiration where before you had none. Being one with nature is a great way to change your perspective and your ability to reframe a challenging work situation.
5. Challenge yourself to try something new
If you keep doing the same things, you’ll never grow. Get over your fear and jump out of your comfort zone. When you challenge yourself to try something that scares you—leading a pitch to a new client, presenting your department’s quarterly objectives, or asking your boss for more responsibility—you’ll move beyond words to action. And when you successfully master that challenge, you’ll have a newfound confidence. You’ll gain positive attention for your fearlessness and initiative. Plus, your decision to take a leap of faith can be the catalyst for further growth.
6. Connect with people offline
While I laud social media’s ability to connect people from around the world, nothing beats face-to-face interactions. So instead of spending an hour on Insta, use that time to invite a connection to meet over coffee. Or better yet, grab a small group and form an informal mastermind group where each member can make introductions to other people and companies and share their expertise and advice. Make it a goal to surround yourself with people who support and challenge you to be the best version of you and who can help you get there. Your environment always wins; make sure your community includes the kind of people you’d like to emulate, learn, and collaborate with.
7. Practice self-care
We’re constantly bombarded with messages of hard-charging executives who never sleep and entrepreneurs who proudly “hustle” 24/7. But we rarely hear the ugly aftermath of that go-go attitude: chronic stress, burnout, fizzled relationships, and disease. The truth is this: you can’t pour—or perform—from an empty cup. To make serious career progress, don’t neglect your well-being. You must build in time to recharge your mind, body, and spirit. That means having the self-awareness to know when you’re reaching your limit— and then taking action to push the reset button. By putting yourself first, you can give more to your boss, colleagues, and clients, helping you progress in your career.
Remember, instead of counting the hours, make your hours count for career progress.
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