There’s no one-size-fits-all regarding your career or how you make money and choose to live. When I reflect on my 25-year career and the skills I’ve developed, it’s been far from traditional. Yet, there continue to be consistent themes and aspects that invigorate and propel me forward.

As Robert Frost professed:

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your career and how you define success.

You don’t need your manager or an annual company review to evaluate your performance. Make it a point to pause and reflect—at least annually—to acknowledge progress, celebrate achievements, and determine if there’s anything you’d like to modify.

Use this time to gauge how you’re doing—highlighting what you want and need—to be successful. There is no right or wrong. One year it may mean money, or a specific title or position, and other times it may mean growth and development or just having a steady place to go every day. Don’t forget to build in time to just be—resting and relaxing—so you can recharge and start again feeling refreshed and energized.

Regardless of the situation, be purposeful in everything you do.

Explore what makes you feel motivated, valued, and appreciated at work. Consider what you want to experience in the near future and align your actions to gain momentum in that direction.

Sometimes you may need to go deeper by assessing what you avoid over and over. We all have a core motivation, sometimes hidden, that drives our behavior and how we view the world. By uncovering what inspires you, as well as what holds you back—blind spots and limiting beliefs—you can adopt strategies to shift your mindset and change your approach to achieve the outcomes you’re pursuing. The iEQ9 Enneagram Assessment is one of my favorite tools to help you understand and accomplish this.

Having a clear sense of purpose fosters excitement and confidence. To gain awareness of what makes you come alive, take the Sparketype assessment. Your results will also showcase what type of activities are the heaviest lift and where you may need to build in more time or ask for support to accomplish the task.

A focused approach.

Here are five activities you can do during your personal reviews to stay on top of your career:

1. Revisit your ambitions and values.

As you’re exposed to new opportunities and experiences, what you like and value can change. What was once most important to you may be replaced by something that you deem more meaningful in the present moment. As your priorities shift, update your career goals to align accordingly. You can follow these steps to gain clarity.

2. Evaluate your current and desired state.

Think through what may be stopping you from making progress and what steps you need to take to move forward. Write out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, focusing on what makes you, YOU. One of your most significant prospects for advancement is reinforcing your strengths. People who enjoy their work stand out.

3. Craft your development plan.

To stay on top of your aspirations strategically, update your career plan to articulate your goals in a concise and systematic manner. Your worksheet should also include your interests, values, and strengths and indicate skills or experiences you need to develop. Once you list these out, add your current state, desired state, and actions to close the gaps with timelines and measurements.

4. Prioritize actions forward.

Once you know what you’d like to change, prioritize what to stop, start, and continue to align your next steps building upon your expertise, values, and interests. Consider soliciting feedback through 360-assessments to understand how you’re being perceived and boost your emotional intelligence skills to foster new perspectives. As Albert Einstein said:

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

5. Refresh your resume.

Lastly, as you take stock of your desires and accomplishments, it’s a perfect time to add your recent notable achievements to your resume. This way, it stays up to date when a potential opportunity to advance at work arises or when you decide you may want to explore alternatives. Here are three tips to keep your resume fresh and relevant.

Cultivate curiosity.

Self-leadership is all about getting to know yourself better and applying that knowledge to how you act, think, and feel. There are many methods to enhance your capabilities without spending too much money, such as taking an online class, training on the job, shadowing an expert, finding a mentor, or hiring a professional coach. Reach out to me to learn more about my customized approach and offerings to activate your best.

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