1. Really Refine Your Elevator Pitch
While it will obviously change from time to time, you should never have a hard time answering, “What do you do?” In fact, you should be so good at it that people will never forget.
So, really spend some time figuring out what message you want to get across when people ask about your career. Communication expert Alexandra Franzen has an exercise to help.
2. Know Your Superpower
Or, in other words, know the one thing that you’re truly amazing at.
Serial entrepreneur Tina Roth Eisenberg says that all the most successful people she’s met know exactly what they’re best at: John Maeda, who led the MIT Media Lab and Rhode Island School of Design, responded with “curiosity.” Maria Popova, who curates the popular Brain Pickings blog, said “doggedness.” Eisenberg’s own superpower is enthusiasm. See how to find your own super power, here.
3. Know Your Weakness
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s key to know what you’re not so great at. Not to make you feel bad—not in the least!—but to help you know who you should hire and work with to complement your skill set and what tasks you should delegate (so you can spend more time on what you’re great at).
On that note:
4. Learn How to Delegate
No one can do it all, and especially as you climb the career ladder, you’re going to need to know the difference between the things you should be spending your time on and the things you shouldn’t.
And, perhaps more importantly, be able to effectively and comfortably delegate to others—interns, staff members, your partner, your childcare provider, you get the picture. These 10 rules of successful delegation will help you do it right.
5. Know Your Career Non-Negotiables
You’re going to have a lot of opportunities come your way in life, and you don’t want to waste energy agreeing to things that really don’t line up with what you want to be doing.
So, really be honest about what you want and need out of your career, and then come up with a list of non-negotiables that you can use as a guide next time you’re making a career decision. Writer Andrea Shields Nunez has some tips on creating them—and then actually enforcing them.
6. Do Something You’re Really, Really Proud Of
Whether or not it’s something you’ll be known for forever, something you get paid for doing, or even something you really want to do with your life, make sure you have something on your resume that, deep down, you’re really proud of.
7. Learn From Something You’re Not So Proud Of
We were going to add “fail at something” to this list, but that’s silly. Because, let’s face it, we’ve all failed miserably at one point or another.
What’s more important? Learning from that blunder and taking that lesson with you productively into the next stage of your career.
8. Stretch Your Limits
You know you can manage a 30-person meeting, but a 100-person multi-day travel conference? That might be stretching the limits of your skills.
Actually—this is exactly the type of stuff that you should try once in a while. After all, you’ll never really know how good you are until you step a bit outside of what you know.
9. Do Something That Really Scares You
This takes stretching your limits a bit further—we’re talking going way out of your comfort zone here.
Whether it’s speaking at a conference, going for a (big) promotion, or finally writing that memoir, why not try something that terrifies you at least once in the early stages of your career? As they say, big risks can lead to big-time rewards.
10. Get Comfortable With Getting Feedback
Hillary Clinton once said that her biggest piece of advice to young professionals is: “It’s important to take criticism seriously—not personally.” Meaning: Knowing where you’re not meeting expectations is the only way you’ll learn and grow as a professional, but taking every harsh word to heart is a fast way to make your confidence crumble.
So, take it from Hillz, and start taking feedback like a pro. Here are a few tips that’ll help.