12 Tips to Set You Up for Success at Work
Everyone dreams of having a highly successful career that they enjoy and that provides them with the successful life they desire. Far too many of us, though, end up settling short when it comes to career success, working jobs we don’t enjoy for less money than we’d like to have.
The good news is that having a successful career is something that is largely under your own control.
The key is knowing what you have a passion for and pursuing it. It is also in developing habits and skills that make you more effective at work and home and having a positive outlook, regardless of what stage you are in your journey toward success at work.
To start enjoying career success, follow these 12 tips on how to be successful at work.
1. Choose Your Job Wisely
The first and by far the most important step to achieving career success is choosing your occupation.
Choosing an occupation that will bring you success, though, comes down to how you define success.
Do you want a career that allows you to travel or a steady job that lets you settle into a pleasant routine?
Do you want a career that makes lots of money, or is money only a secondary concern?
Once you define your priorities and what will bring you true personal satisfaction, you can mold your career around them.
Of course, the most important priority is that you choose a career that you enjoy. It is easy to be happy in a career when you are doing something you are passionate about.
Strategies to finding your passion include pinpointing what your core values are, naming the things you’ve always wanted to do if money were not an issue, and listing the times when you are happiest and feel most fulfilled.
Not only does an enjoyable career make your entire existence more enjoyable, but it also makes you more likely to succeed since people always tend to do better at the things which they enjoy.
Simply put, finding success at work means doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
2. Be a Lifelong Learner
Continuous learning is key to progression and success.
When you are determined to learn new things, your potential for growth increases.
Create a mindset to try something new on a regular basis in both your personal and professional life. New skills bring you new opportunities.
You might take up a new hobby, try an activity you have always wanted to but have not made time for, or challenge yourself with something that is intimidating or even something you are afraid of.
Being a lifelong learner can be as simple as trying new food, driving a different route to work, or touring a virtual museum.
At work, look to your boss or supervisors and those whose career trajectory you wish to emulate for career advice. Seek out opportunities for training within your field. Look for certifications that can help you advance in your career and schedule time to earn them.
Find courses, professional certificates, and micro-credential programs that you can take online to enhance your skillset. Choose those that will open up opportunities for you in your current career, or use these learning opportunities to gauge what you are most interested in for a career change.
Avoid feeling like you are stuck in your job or career.
Being or feeling stuck is almost always a state of mind, a predicament of a person’s own making.
No matter where you are in your career, you always have the power to make career changes.
Many times, those changes may be frightening or difficult, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be beneficial.
At all points in your career, you need to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and improvement.
Never stop working to advance both yourself and your career, and never give in to the fallacy that you are stuck where you’re at.
3. Understand Your Job Expectations
When you know what your employer is looking for, you will have a clear picture of how to be successful at work.
It is most helpful when your employer set expectations and conducts regular performance reviews, but you can also be proactive in understanding what is expected of you at work.
Begin with the job description of your current job. Most companies post this online or in your employee records.
Pay attention to the key skills that are listed to qualify for the job. Do you have all of them? How can you improve in each one?
Read through all the things the job description lists as responsibilities. Ensure you are working hard to be productive and achieve each one.
Understand what it takes to stay up to date in your role as well as advance to a new role, department, job, or company. Successful people are always moving forward.
Learn the mission and goals of the organization you work for. Give your full attention to how you can best contribute to these goals and help the business achieve its mission. Be aware that if these do not align with your own values and career trajectory, it is likely time to seek out a new job.
Understand the workplace culture of the organization you work for. Workplace culture is defined by the values and belief systems of your employers as well as your co-workers.
The culture at your job might focus on friendliness, diversity, collaboration, productivity, accountability, motivation, clear communication, or challenging its employees, for example.
When you understand the culture at your place of business, you know what it takes to work as a team with your colleagues to be successful individually and collectively.
4. Be a Team Player
Organizations are most successful when colleagues work as a team. By combining your skills and strengths with those of your co-workers, you will find more success individually and collectively.
Respect others on your team and champion their strengths and successes. Realize that you will achieve more by working in tandem with your workmates than competing with them. Solve problems together and refrain from blaming or shifting your share of the workload onto others.
Understand your role and fulfill your duties and responsibilities. Prioritize your tasks so the most important things get done first. Often, good time management skills include completing those tasks that someone is waiting for you to do before they can complete the next step of a project or process.
If you serve in a management role, adopt good leadership skills. A key skill of every good leader is to delegate tasks. Realize that you are not the only person who can solve problems. When you delegate tasks, you allow other employees to grow their skills and improve their performance.
Know the goals of your team and collaborate to achieve them and find solutions together.
Have a positive attitude, especially when you and your colleagues are faced with challenges. Positive thinking in the workplace will lower the stress level, increase productivity, and help everyone succeed.
Practice good communication skills. Let both your words and body language convey confidence in yourself as well as the skills of your colleagues. Active listening and giving and receiving feedback are key components of effective communication.
Be a problem solver and work together to find the solutions that will increase performance at the office.
5. Take Ownership of Everything You Do
If you want to succeed in your career, you have to take ownership of both your triumphs and your failures.
Celebrate your triumphs, analyze them, and learn how you can emulate them and build on them in the future.
You need to take ownership of your failures as well, accepting responsibility for them without letting them drag you down and learning everything that you can from the mistakes you make.
Many times, failure is a much more effective teacher than success, and most if not all of the world’s most successful people would not be where they are today if they did not accept their mistakes and learn from them.
6. Develop Leadership Skills
Adopting good leadership skills will help you be successful at work.
Key characteristics of good leaders include integrity, courage, humility, cooperation, honesty, and good communication.
Improve your ability to focus. This means focusing on the goals of the organization, employers, department, or team as well as your own goals.
Take the initiative to come up with new ideas that will benefit the company or find solutions that will make teams more productive.
Expand your emotional intelligence, which is your ability to manage and understand your own emotions as well as be aware of and have respect for the emotions of others.
Essential components of emotional intelligence are empathy, self-motivation, self-awareness, social skills, and self-regulation.
As a leader, you should assert yourself by using your own voice while instilling confidence in others by validating their ideas and contributions.
Understand the ability each person has to contribute to the organization. Bring out the best in each of your employees or team members by capitalizing on their strengths and giving them opportunities to improve skills they may be lacking.
7. Keep a Positive Attitude
When you have a positive attitude, positive results will come.
Pessimism, on the other hand, is the enemy of success.
Pessimism is able to turn manageable challenges into ones that are insurmountable, while optimism is able to make every challenge one that you are able to overcome.
Start trying to catch yourself when you are thinking negative thoughts or displaying a pessimistic attitude toward some aspect of your career and replace them instead with a positive and optimistic outlook.
Others around you will emulate your positive thinking as well, making the workplace a much more enjoyable and profitable environment for everyone.
In other words, always look on the bright side and have a positive attitude and the future of your career will be brighter as well.
8. Maintain Work-Life Balance
While it is important to put forth your best effort in your job to have success in the workplace, overworking leads to stress and burnout, which are counterproductive to your desire for success.
It is not always about how much work you do but the quality of work you produce. If you find your job is dominating your personal life, it is time to adopt a new system and way of thinking.
Start by developing interests outside of work. Start a fitness routine, seek out social events, or look for new opportunities to learn more about the things you are interested in that are not associated with your job.
Take time for recreation. It is just as important to play as it is to work and rest. Recreation allows your mind to unplug and your body to refresh. In turn, you will be able to be more productive and happier in the workplace.
Keep your personal life separate from your work life. At the end of the day, leave your work at the office — which includes refraining from thinking about and talking about the workplace when you are at home.
Striking an effective work-life balance is especially important for people who work from home. When your office doubles as your house or apartment, it takes concentrated effort to clock out at a certain time and let yourself be off duty both physically and mentally.
Tips for working from home include having a dedicated workspace and structuring your workday as you would if you were in the office.
Be flexible and allow for important interruptions from family members, but also let your housemates know what your schedule is to minimize distractions.
9. Set Goals for Yourself
One of the most beneficial things a person can do for their career is to set goals for themselves.
A set of well-thought-out goals can serve as a roadmap to success, providing you with objectives to meet along the way as you work towards wherever you want to be in your career.
Besides ensuring that you do what it takes to meet the goals that you set for yourself, the most important part of setting goals is making sure the goals you set are beneficial.
A beneficial goal is one that is challenging without being unattainable and one that will improve you and your career when you meet it.
If you can set both short-term and long-term goals that meet these criteria, it will certainly help you reach the end goal you have for your career – whatever that end goal may be.
10. Master Time Management
Success tips for work include learning how to manage your time effectively.
Some of the best advice for time management is to plan out your workday either at the end of your current workday or first thing in the morning when you arrive at work. Detail when to schedule in certain duties, answer emails, make phone calls, and so on.
Prioritize tasks so that the most important things get done first. I call this eating that frog: taking on your biggest, most important, and sometimes least desirable task first, then the rest of your day will be more productive.
You should also apply the Pareto principle to prioritizing your tasks, which is a concept that asserts roughly 20 percent of your efforts account for 80 percent of your success.
So make sure your 20 percent is focused on the most important tasks that will keep you on a course toward your goals.
When you have major projects to complete, break large milestones down into smaller, more manageable tasks with clear deadlines.
Learn the time management skills you need to meet your deadlines. Helpful tips include minimizing distractions and rewarding yourself for your successes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed and reach out to your employers or boss for answers to questions that will help you succeed.
One of my favorite time management tips is to learn to say no.
For example, if other employees often ask you to help them complete their tasks, have the confidence to tell them you will help when you are finished with your own duties. If your boss repeatedly piles on extra responsibilities, tell them you can be more useful to the company if you are allowed the time needed to focus your attention on the most important obligations.
Seek Out and Learn From Feedback
When feedback is anything less than positive, it can often be a tough pill to swallow.
However, asking for and truly listening to feedback is one of the quickest ways to hone your skills and progress in your career.
No matter where you are in your career, there are always going to be people who have a unique perspective to offer or who may know more about a particular topic than you.
Ask for constructive criticism from your boss, company executives, and colleagues.
Listening to their feedback and career advice regarding your work, honestly evaluating whether what they are saying is true and useful, and putting what you learn into practice is sure to help you grow in your chosen career.
If your boss does not already conduct performance reviews, one idea is to ask for them. Use these reviews to identify the skills you need to develop and get the training you need to do so.
Be your own boss too and evaluate yourself. The skills you need to accomplish this are setting clear and realistic goals, establishing timelines to reach them, and evaluating your progress. Adjust your goals when needed and seek out ways to improve your skills so you can be successful.
12. Go the Extra Mile
Finally, one of the most important skills you can gain for success at work is putting in the extra effort needed to make good things happen in the workplace.
Employees who are not afraid of working hard develop the skills they need to become leaders within a company. Instead of being an employee who has a job, you can strive to be the boss who runs or owns the company.
The idea is to see the big picture. By paying attention to the goals your company has, you will be able to anticipate needs, notice trends that will bring new developments, and offer new ideas that can catapult both you and your organization to success.
When needed, add new tasks to your duties that will streamline your progress. Instead of waiting for your boss to assign new tasks to you, take initiative. This is one of the most important skills employees can develop to transition to a boss mentality.
Set Yourself Up for Success at Work
By applying these twelve tips for success at work, you will increase your confidence, improve your skills, and achieve your goals not just at work but in life. To help you get started, use my 14-Step Goal Setting Guide to achieve success faster than you’ve thought possible.
About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.