Have you ever noticed that some people seem to write their own rules and fly up the career ladder while others pay their dues for years to get in similar positions? While luck may play a small role in the differences between those two types of situations, a lot of it has to do with having the right mindset and consistently showing up in a certain way. And this is good news because it means that, with the right perspective and habits, you too can get on the fast track to the career of your wildest dreams.
So, are you ready to arm yourself with guiding principles that will help skyrocket your professional aspirations? The nine crucial rules of fast career advancement below apply in pretty much any industry or setting. Better yet, they also apply to life in general.
Avoid doing for the sake of doing
Doing more doesn’t always mean getting more. Having a great work ethic is important, but you want to be intentional about any steps you take before ending up burned out and resentful. People who advance fast in their careers know when to press on the gas pedal and when to take a step back to assess the situation and plan their next move. They also tend to be adept at working smart instead of hard.
“When it comes to career advancement and professional success, we often think it’s all about doing, and we jump into action steps that are too high on the ladder. We don’t prepare, we try to go too far too fast, and in the process, we hurt ourselves — emotionally and physically with burnout, disappointment, and regrets. Needless to say, after what seems to be a ‘failure,’ only a few dare to get back up and continue,” says Tanja Senica, life, and career coach and founder of Hit Splits Coaching.
Always believe in yourself
High-flying professionals know that the most important asset they can ever develop is their sense of self-belief. If you want to move ahead fast, you need to believe in yourself even when nobody else does. The road to success might be paved with unexpected obstacles, failure, rejection and toxic coworkers. Some people might laugh in the face of your dreams. When the going gets tough, you can rely on your unshakeable confidence. And when things are going well, you can fly even higher knowing you are worthy of achieving your goals.
Follow your passion
The most successful people in the world tend to follow their passions long before their salaries follow suit. “This is important because it is usually connected to intrinsic goals and motivating factors. Your passion is your joy, it’s what excites you and puts a smile on your face. When you have that, you are already a winner,” says Senica.
Don’t wait for opportunity – create it
When opportunity knocks, you seize it. When an opportunity is nowhere to be found, you create it. Such is the philosophy of professionals who get ahead at lightning speed. It’s not enough to wait for a role to open or make your intentions of getting promoted clear. Set a bigger vision for your life and career so you can notice unexpected opportunities when they pass you by and jump on them — or even do things like start your own business or pitch your dream company to see if they can create a job for you.
Flying solo is not the way to go
One of the more negative perceptions surrounding fast career advancement is that you have to be ruthlessly competitive to get ahead. But to rise to the top, you actually need to be a good team player. “According to a Harvard study, employees with the highest connectivity score have a 40% higher chance of promotion,” says Senica.
It makes sense: In organizations made up of several functions with sometimes competing priorities, individual wins happen when collective wins are focused on.
Don’t live someone else’s dream
According to Senica, the biggest mistake of all is trying to live someone else’s dream: “I’ve seen it countless times: Making parents happy or proud, making a lot of money in a given field, gaining the respect of friends, social validation, etc.”
Before aiming for that next big career challenge, ask yourself who you are living for. You can only make it so far wanting your outcome for the wrong reasons. People who get ahead fast and consistently are fueled by a desire to reach their dreams so powerful nobody can get in their way. On the other hand, an achievement for the sake of what looks good on paper or what pleases others can end up leaving you drained and unfulfilled — not exactly a state to produce impactful results from.
Trust your intuition
Trust your gut. “Although there are many ways to connect to or cultivate intuition, it remains one of the most underestimated habits in the professional world,” says Senica.
Why underestimated? Because a lot of people think of intuition as this esoteric concept, but it’s often the edge that will set you apart. “Some of the most successful people are getting many (or most) of their creative ideas and decision-making answers through deliberate and conscious intuition.”
Staying patient might sound counterproductive when wanting to grow fast. But playing the long-game means understanding that periods of patience and steady progress often precede massive breakthroughs and successes that can easily appear as they happened overnight from the outside.
“Success rarely happens overnight because one needs to grow into a successful person,” says Senica. “Being patient is part of that; so many people, unfortunately, stop watering their career plant right before the seeds begin to sprout.”
Enjoy the journey
The ultimate secret of professionals who climb the career ladder super quickly is that they learn to have fun along the way. Because time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. And there is no point reaching goal after goal if you’re going to be miserable the whole time — kind of defeats the purpose of having goals in the first place.
“Get to know yourself, your passions, your values, your strengths. Get to know your goals, motivations and deepest desires. And then make a decision, declare it to the world, and go for it no matter what. And remember to have fun!” says Senica.