Have a Plan
You should already have goals for your career, but if you don’t, now is as good a time as any to start. Figure out where you want to go, and then plot out a route to get there. Be aware that you’ll encounter detours and sidetracks along the way. But while you’re trekking along, always keep your career map in your head. Making your plan and then following it will help you to keep your career moving in the direction you want it to.
Find a Mentor
This could be your boss, another coworker or another professional in your industry. Find someone who has been there, done that and is willing to pass on their knowledge to you. Then learn from them. What mistakes did they make and wish they hadn’t? What would they have changed?
It can be difficult to aspire to those places of leadership because self-doubt can crop up quickly. However, don’t let fear paralyze you. Be willing to take a risk and step out and try new things…new challenges. As you learn and do well at the new opportunities, your confidence will naturally grow.
Work Smart and Creatively
You don’t have to put in 60+ hours per week to reach your aspirations. Rather than working more, work smarter. Use your time effectively. Excel at using the time most others waste. And be creative. Seek new ways of doing things, if you believe the result will be better.
Nurture Your Network
Keep up on the relationships you’ve made with people. Whether it’s a coworker, a contact at another company, or the UPS delivery guy, foster those relationships. As humans, we thrive on relationships. So keeping those friendly contacts will help you as a person. You also never know how they could be useful to you down the road as you reach for new heights in your career.
Take the Lead
A great way to prepare yourself for that leadership position is by learning to be a leader now. Ask your boss if you can take point on the next project. If you start small but show initiative, your boss will see those leadership qualities in you. Be willing to demonstrate those by motivating your team and being willing to take responsibility for whatever happens—good or bad. Challenge yourself to be now what you want to be then.
Start practicing these career boosters. Show your boss that you’re in it to win it, not to just sit around. As you do your best for your current boss, your reputation as a reliable, excellent worker will grow, and so will your opportunities.