Successful Career Habits

I was making all the professional mistakes at the beginning of my career, until I connected with some outstanding mentors and advisors who provided sage advice! I have to tell you, it’s been a wonderful journey and I’m sharing three of my top success habits I’ve been using for over 25 years!

Prepare:  Whether it’s a meeting, project, or interview, solid preparation will increase your confidence and your credibility.  For instance, before every meeting I review the slide deck, check to see who’s attending, figure out what I intend to contribute or learn from the meeting.  It takes less than 15 minutes, really reduces confusion and I’m positioned to add valuable points, if needed.  If it’s a meeting where I’m still unsure of the intent, I center myself on learning, so it’s never time wasted, but more invested in learning something new.  Not all meetings are perfect, but my intent is always “what can I share” or “what can I learn.” 

Participate:  Take time to really get to know your organization. Review the 5-year strategy, read your director’s intent, study your organization’s core mission areas.  When you are invested in your organization, it’s easier to understand how you contribute to the overall success.  Also, attend town halls and engagement activities.  These are great opportunities to learn more about your organization and meet new team members.  Keep in mind, the more you engage with your organization, the more connected you will feel.  Again, these types of activities take minimal time, but have great impact!

Pause:  Not every day will be perfect and some conversations may not be seamless. In tense situations, take a moment to pause.  It’s so difficult to retract unkind comments or biting statements.  This was a big, big lesson for me, as I always had a quick comeback. Unfortunately, my reputation was getting a bit tarnished.  Now, this isn’t about not advocating for yourself, but more taking a moment to gather your thoughts and present through clarity and not emotion. Another time to pause is before you take on that next volunteer project.  Really determine if you have the bandwidth.  If you don’t kindly express your time limitations and thank the requestor for thinking of you.  This way you’ve articulated the reason and you’ll still be considered for future projects. 

These are three career habits I maximize every single day!  I share these with mentees who have found them helpful and I hope you find them helpful, as well!  Go be great! 

Treva Smith is a federal human resources, diversity and inclusion, and business operations professional, with over 33-years of service.  Treva enjoys advising and mentoring individuals navigate their career paths to meet identified goals. She specializes in career planning and personal branding, and is certified to instruct Business Etiquette through the distinguished Protocol School of Washington and a certified Global Career Development Facilitator through National Employment Counseling Association.

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