The 5 Things That Helped Me Get My Career Back On Track

When I graduated from college, like many, I had no idea where I wanted my career path to go. I didn’t know what I wanted to do or how to go about accomplishing anything. I just went with the flow and guess what — I didn’t accomplish much. I wasn’t organized, I stayed in my comfort zone, and I had nothing to guide my career journey. The first lesson I learned was that I needed to switch things up if I expected to see different results. So I did. These are the tips and resources that helped me get my career back on track.

 Credit: Rawpixel.com via Unsplashed.com

Credit: Rawpixel.com via Unsplashed.com

1. Network

No matter your career path, you need to network. It’s a great way to start building invaluable professional relationships to propel your career forward. If you love attending networking events in your city, then go for it! I’m more introverted, however, so I’m better at networking online. For me, online networking is more useful and targeted.

Ideally, you’ll want a mix of both strategies. Slack groups are a great way to find niche communities and build meaningful connections. One I’m digging right now is MIMConnect, a group for minorities in media. Shapr — think Tinder — but for networking, is a dope app to connect with individuals. On that note, other apps like Bumble Bizz, or Present, a community-building app for women, are also excellent choices.

2. Self-Care

Feeling overworked, overwhelmed, and anxious? That was me. Early in my career, I overworked myself. I didn’t think I needed to recharge myself. Boy, was I wrong. It killed my creativity and eventually led to burnout. Today, I try to keep Sundays open for social events, family gatherings, or just some “me time.” I also dedicate a portion of my typical workday to do activities I love, such as reading, playing video games, meditating, or enjoying some quiet time.

Calm, a meditation app, is awesome, and I fell in love with the realistic nature sounds. Heck, even exercising and weekly planning are self-care tactics, too. Don’t be afraid to step back for the hustle and take moments for yourself.

3.  Organize + Create Goals

One word: declutter. When you’re focusing on your career, you’ve got a hundred things all happening at the same damn time. Be prepared as you possibly can be. Planning helps increase my relaxation and calm my anxiety (it’s a win-win). You don’t want to forget a big event or project due date because you didn’t write it down. I’m partial to physical planners, something small I can easily throw in my bag. Other great options include Wunderlist, a to-do list/tasks app, or if you prefer something more simple, the Notes app on your phone does the job.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next three to five years? Write it down. We get so caught up in focusing on the little things or just crossing off items on our checklist that we forget what we’re working toward. Your goals are your long-term vision. But goals aren’t static; they do — and should — change as you move forward, but you need to have them in a place to help guide your career path, review progress, and stay focused. Use Trello or Asana, both management programs, to help you keep track of your progress!

4. Mentorship

Mentors and champions are pivotal to your success. A mentor provides guidance, support, and advises you with choices in your career. A mentor could be a co-worker, senior leader, or even a peer — and you can have more than one. If you’re going with the entrepreneur route, SCORE is great for locating business mentors. Use LinkedIn to connect with someone you’d like to learn more about in your industry and build that professional relationship.

A champion is an advocate. You’re each other’s #1 fan. It’s a more personal relationship than a mentor. Trust me, it makes things so much easier, and you always have someone that has your back and pushes for opportunities for you (and vice versa). You can help each other succeed. Over time, a mentor may naturally develop into your champion. You can also reach out to peers and industry leaders. I’d do this once you’ve got an idea of where you want to go with your career and how they can help get you there.

5. Personal Brand + Development

If you want to make a lasting impression, consider creating and developing a personal brand. Think about your values and how you want to be perceived. Then put together a brief description of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. This is your “elevator pitch.” From there, you can begin to shape out a personal brand that establishes your skills, values, and personality.

I love Squarespace for quickly and nearly effortless setting up a beautiful website. You definitely want to make sure to get a domain, and if your name is available, I’d highly recommend purchasing it (even if you don’t think you’re going to use it)! And of course, get those social media platforms poppin’ and don’t be afraid to be yourself. But don’t stop there. Moving up your dream career ladder requires constantly searching for ways to improve your skills. Listen to a TedTalk during your lunch break. Try teaching yourself to code or build out your marketing skills with resources like Udemy and Learncode.academy.  

My biggest piece of advice: Don’t get comfortable and don’t limit yourself. If you want to move your career forward, you must take risks. I know you’re thinking that it’s not easy. I know — I struggle with anxiety daily — but I’m aware and continually challenge myself. Avoid comfort zones!

Got question? Tweet me at @ChasitiGaines.