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3 Hacks To Accelerate Your Career

"Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses", reminds us Gary Vaynerchuk, a highly successful entrepreneur and author of several New York Times best sellers. Not only does the old wisdom make common sense, but it is backed up by a growing body of research evidence: using your strengths in the workplace brings multiple emotional and mental benefits, reports Psychology Today.

QFinds outlines three effective strategies for successful career advancement: make them part of your approach to work and professional success will follow.

#1: Lean into your strengths

Start with the basics: an honest self-evaluation of your limitations and strengths is a first necessary step towards self-realisation and growth. Fulfilling your professional potential is impossible without recognising what exactly makes you a great employee. Being aware of your communication patterns and behavioural style and their potential impacts on work is important for ensuring the best possible outcome for yourself and your employers.

The question we hear you ask now is how to identify your strengths in the workplace. We love University of Pennsylvania’s Authentic Happiness Inventory – not only will it help you determine your top strengths, but it will also match them with companies’ descriptions of their ideal employee. You’ll have to create an account to take the test, but it’s worth spending a couple of minutes to avail yourself of this great inventory.

Once you’ve identified what makes you a strong professional, start tapping into your potential to bring about gradual positive change into your career and, ultimately, your entire life. Using your signature strengths every day generates authentic happiness and abundant gratification, says American psychologist Martin Seligman. Learn more about positive psychology in Seligman’s multimillion-view TedTalk.

#2: Find your allies

Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and support your pursuits is key to succeeding in the workplace and life in general. These people are your allies – those who “bring the best out of you”, in the words of Roy T. Bennett, the author of The Light in the Heart.

Conversely, people who think and act in ways that undermine your motivation and curb your ambition are the negative elements – steer clear of them. If shared projects make avoiding less than constructive colleagues impossible, Dr. Raj Raghunathan suggests a mental coping strategy based on understanding the reasons behind people’s negative attitudes and behaviours. According to Dr. Raghunathan, all negativity stems from one of three deep-seated fears: the fear of being disrespected, the fear of not being loved, and the fear that “bad things” are going to happen.

Understanding the roots of someone’s negative patterns makes it easier to prevent them from affecting your wellbeing. To make the inevitable communication with negative people more constructive, work on:

  • developing an attitude of compassion towards those stuck in negativity
  • taking responsibility for your own happiness
  • showing maturity (take the time to explain why you chose to act as you did, act calm and use facts to prove your point).

#3: Plan, prepare, act

Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." The old quote emphasises the power of planning, which remains relevant for all time.

Once you’ve figured out your next career destination, think about the specific actions you need to take in order to start moving in the desired direction. Not sure where to begin? Talk to someone who can provide useful insights, leverage the power of social media (here’s our guide to making the most of LinkedIn), consider what skills you need to refine or develop to enhance your professional potential. To make sure no good idea escapes your attention, develop a habit of note-taking: Google List or Wunderlist, among many other tools, make jotting down your thoughts easy and fast. Don’t underestimate the value of note-taking - Aristotle Onassis, once the wealthiest man in the world, considered it “a million-dollar lesson they don’t teach you in business school!"

Once you’ve developed a plan of actions, don’t let it sit around collecting dust – set priorities and timelines against which you can track and measure your progress. And remember Parkinson’s law – work expands to fill the time allocated to it. Make sure that, on the one hand, you don’t underestimate the complexity of the task and the time required to complete it to a high standard while, on the other hand, that you don’t waste precious time procrastinating when you could be moving towards your next important milestone.

As the county finds itself in the grip of the third national lockdown, career progression might have been relegated to the back of your mind. However, it’s important to start laying the groundwork - identifying your strengths, acquiring allies, developing action plans – that will provide you with a solid basis for making that ultimate career power move when the time is right.