Transform your career (and life) in just an hour a day

Whether you’re happiest working 9 to 5, spend your days hunched over a keyboard in a coffee-shop, or rule over a one-person empire, sometimes you need a massive shift. You don’t have to revamp your entire skill set to make a big change.

Spending as little as an hour a day on something fun, interesting or out of the ordinary can have long-term positive benefits for you and your career.

Look inside

“Take an opportunity for self-reflection for an hour daily” advises Laureen Campanelli, Assistant Director Career Services, The College of Health Professions/School of Education at Pace University. This can be done at lunch, during your workout or on your commute home. “Very often we get caught up in the day to day challenges of work. We don’t allow time to reflect and to consider how could I do this better next time?”

“Think about your work day and how it went. Evaluate what worked. Then ask yourself, what could be improved? Ask yourself probing questions to examine your true strengths and weaknesses. For example, ‘how did I speak to my colleagues today?’ ‘Was I effective during my presentation?’ ‘Did I clearly articulate the tasks required for an important project?’ ‘Did I respond with strong emotion when asked to do more?’ ” Campanelli continued. “Strong leaders are able to self-reflect and correct bad behaviors. They are forward thinkers, who consistently want to improve. Being able to adapt and become more self-reflective will allow others to see your strong interpersonal skills. It may also open up doors to future leadership roles.”

Read … (also, read)

“The more you read, the more you know, the more you learn, the more you grow,” said Sam Broder-Fingert, President at SpaceFoam who recently launched a new memory foam pillow.

Broder-Fingert believes reading “helps to ensure you continue flexing your brain muscles – expanding your vocabulary, increasing your subject matter expertise, growing your cultural intelligence and garnering new ways to approach challenges.”

Split it up

“To transform one’s career it is important to spend time being mindful every day,” said Sree Menon, SVP of Strategy at shopping site Tophatter.

Menon suggests splitting your mindfulness to a half hour at a time.

“In the morning, take 30 minutes – even if it’s during your commute – to think of the day ahead and any challenges you may have,” Menon said. “Getting into the right frame of mind and aligning with yourself on the best approach and attitude will help set the tone tremendously. Then, at the end of the day, take another 30 minutes to evaluate how you did against the intention, where you could have done better and where you can lean in.”

Stay in touch

“Networking is one of the most important things you can do to transform your career” according to Stephanie Cartin, cofounder and CEO of Socialfly.

And don’t worry if you’re not great in person: “From Facebook groups to events in your field, networking can take many forms and should be a part of your daily routine no matter what stage you’re at in your career. Set realistic goals for yourself such as sending one email or LinkedIn message a day to a potential customer or mentor and take the time to research them and determine how you can add value to them before reaching out.”

Dig deeper

If you rely on social media to expand your network, consider taking an hour a day to build relationships that count.

“It’s so easy to click ‘connect’ on any of our social media sites. Many of us overlook the importance of forging meaningful connections when there are dozens of individuals listed in our online network that we don’t really know,” said Bless Vaidian, Director of Career Counseling at Pace University. “When you need assistance with a project, a job lead, referral, or information, it’s not a random connection you only know by name that will likely step in,” Vaidian said.

Make your social stream matter

“Curate your social media feeds with trusted news sources and thought leaders in relevant areas to your industry,” said Arvind Raichur, CEO of MrOwl. “Take time every day to see what they’re saying, sharing, and reading. If something resonates with you, share it or comment on it so that you’re engaging with the conversation.

“Your followers and friends can stay up to date on trends and resources together, strengthening the collective understanding for the benefit of everyone involved.”