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If you’re looking for ways to take your career to the next level, you can look outside yourself or you can glance inward. Outside you may see available jobs, possible promotions or willing mentors. Inside, you’ll see a different set of opportunities and potential adjustments you might like to make. Here are five little tweaks (easy ones!) that can help you take the wheel and get where you’re going.

Know your goals

“Success” is not a goal. “Happiness” is not a goal. These are vague terms and abstractions that can’t be visualized, measured or even clearly felt. It’s hard to pursue something with an outline you can’t clearly see. So, if your goals consist of a list of these vague phrases, edit that list. Change “success” to “Become senior account manager within two years” or “Graduate and get an entry-level nursing job.” Change “happiness” to something like “Move to a city with better weather” or “Get hired by a better company with a more positive culture.”

Know your strengths and weaknesses

Becoming an adult means honestly assessing our natural talents and weaknesses. Just because you’re weak in an area (public speaking, for example) doesn’t mean you should never speak publicly. You should! Just accept the fact you’ll have to work harder and overcome more obstacles than others might before you reach that stage. And just because you have a natural talent for public speaking doesn’t mean you’ll grab the mic and knock them dead on the first try. You’ll still have to work at it. But your gifts may take you farther over time while costing less effort and bringing you more enjoyment than your peers. Identify your gifts, sort them, and factor what you see into your decisions.

Know your priorities

Adulting means separating your real priorities from those that others and society have placed on you. Your parents may want you to be a dentist, but if you want another fate instead, let their vision go and have the courage to follow your own.

Challenge yourself

After you’ve done the above, you may discover two lucky truths: You have a talent for Career X, AND you genuinely enjoy it and want to make it a priority. Great! Lucky you! But as you coast along toward a successful and happy life, dip your oar in the water all the same. Push yourself a little harder than the currents are pushing you. You’ll be glad you did.

Write down your career goals

As you identify your career goals, write them down. Why? Because the career world changes fast, and your feelings, your options and the industry landscape around you evolve constantly. The job title you chase today may not exist tomorrow. Writing helps you grab ideas and pin them down before the moment passes.

For more on how to pursue the path you’ve chosen and find career success, talk to the team at Extension!

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