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5 Effective Ways to Invest in Your Career

Some quick strategies to spark inspiration and action for your career success.

Key points

  • Every change we want to make or goal we want to set starts with self-awareness.
  • Identify the positive relationships in your working life and how can you invest more time in them.
  • You get to choose where you invest your time, energy, and money.

The Question:

When was the last time you made a tangible investment in your career?

The Insights:

Looking at this question is so important. Often women are so busy doing the work in their career that they aren’t creating the space, time, and energy to focus on the actual career trajectory they are on.

It’s easy for this to happen, and the pandemic has only made things tougher with so many compounding commitments and changes to the normal flow of work and life.

But here’s the thing: If we don’t take pause to reflect and consider where we are, what comes next, and what we might need in terms of support, relationships, skills, and the like, we can stay stuck on a treadmill that is moving but isn’t actually going anywhere.

Here are some quick strategies to spark inspiration and action for your career success (whatever that may look like for you).

The Strategies:

1. Invest in knowing yourself. OK, this sounds so simple and straightforward, and you may be thinking, "Well of course I know myself!" But pause for a moment. Do you really? When was the last time you considered your life vision or where you find meaning in your work? Have you thought recently about what you love about your current role, what feels hard and heavy, and what you would truly love to be doing next? These are important questions that impact not only your career but also your entire life. Every change we want to make or goal we want to set starts with self-awareness. It can be confronting, but it can also be joyful and transformative. Start here.

Tip: Take the VIA Strengths Survey to better understand your character strengths, a great path to understanding yourself more deeply. It’s free and takes about 10 minutes.

2. Keep learning. Some leave learning behind after that university degree is done, while others have a love of learning that continues to expand and sustain them. I encourage you to nudge yourself into the latter category. There is always something to learn that will help move your career forward. It could be learning about how to manage your mindset more effectively, be a good manager, understand a new skill for your next role, or become more confident. It could be taking a career program as part of a community or learning on your own through listening to podcasts or audiobooks. Think about what you need right now, and invest your time, energy, and money if necessary to continually build on your skills, mindset, and development journey.

Tip: Check out the exhaustive list of free podcasts on iTunes or Spotify that are likely available in any area you want to learn about.

3. Invest in positive relationships.
A study by Harvard professor George Valliant, which started almost 80 years ago, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer and be happier. In fact, the research tells us that relationships are the number-one factor in overall happiness. But when we are busy or under the pump with seemingly endless commitments, investing in relationships for our career success can seem like just another thing on our to-do list. But relationships matter and are worthy of your time and energy investment.

Tip: Where are the positive relationships in your working life, and how can you invest more time in them? It could be a 10-minute catch-up call, a walk-and-talk session, or a longer connect weekly or monthly. And is there a community that you are part of that you find greater connection and support? If not, where can you tap into one? It could be a difference maker for your career happiness.

4. Invest in a career coach. A few years before I made the transition from corporate life to business owner, I was a senior exec at IBM and trying to figure out what my next move was. I hadn’t yet figured out that I would start my own business, and I was scratching around looking at potential new roles, but nothing was sparking my interest and I couldn’t figure out why as I had always been so passionate about my work. It wasn’t until I started working with a coach that I began to unlock pieces around purpose, what I really wanted my life and career to look like, and how I could chart that course. It was a game changer for me and I wouldn’t be where I am without the coaches I have invested in along the way.

Tip: Think about investing in a coach if you are at a critical moment in your career. It might be a transition point like it was for me. You may only need one for a short period of time, but it will definitely be a huge support and bring structure and insight to your next steps. Or you can join a group coaching program and get the added benefit of community, learning from others, and building a powerful network.

5. Invest in your well-being. If you only do one thing after reading this post, do something positive for your well-being. It is important to look at well-being on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual level. Wanting to focus on wellness is one thing, but knowing what actually works, which tools and strategies to use, how to build effective habits, and how to understand the fundamental role of energy in your well-being—well, that’s another thing entirely, and that is where the real impact on our health and happiness happens. You can’t thrive in your career if you aren’t thriving in body, mind, and spirit. Take it from someone who tried and failed—through illness, stress, and burnout—getting these fundamentals right is the single best thing you can start with to ensure you have the career you long for.

Tip: Get real about your current state of health and well-being. How do you feel on a daily basis? Which area of your well-being needs the most immediate attention? Is it your diet, exercise, mental health, or relational connection? Pick one area, and then get intentional about it. Create one small habit each day that will support you and move you forward on your well-being path. For support with building habits, I highly recommend Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a great articulation of much of the science I have been teaching for years on habit formation and its impact on well-being.

Final Thoughts:

The bottom line is this: You are in charge of yourself, your life, and your career. And you get to choose where you invest your time, where you invest your energy, and where you invest your money. You choose where you put yourself on your to-do list.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I find women coming up against with any form of self-investment, is that they feel they aren’t worthy of it, they don’t deserve it, and they don’t have permission to do it. It comes up when we talk about life vision and creating the life they want but feeling guilty about wanting it; it comes up when we look at investing time and energy in their self-care practices (even the most basic ones like rest); and it certainly comes up when women are looking at investing in any form of career development or coaching program.

You are worthy. You must invest in yourself and your future, in whatever form makes the most sense for you right now. You deserve to put yourself at the front of your to-do list, for at least a small portion of day.

I hope these five areas and tips help to spark some ideas and inspiration of how you can invest in yourself to create success in your career.

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