A 7-Day Guide to Transforming Your Career

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been guilty of searching the internet for 7-day diets, 7 days to change a habit, 7 days to organize my life, and so on. Maybe these handles work well because we happen to be an impatient society. Or maybe we’re attracted to “faster and fewer” because we’re so insanely busy. In any case, many of us want to experience life and work fully, but find ourselves searching for the most direct route.

While you can’t exactly transform your career in seven days, you can accelerate your path to the ideal career experience if you make conscious choices every day, and discipline yourself to follow through. Here are seven steps you can take – one for each day of the week.

Sunday
Get inspired
. Read a few short articles that move you, shift your perspective…make you feel powerful. Choose a few people, magazines, or websites to follow as a way to continuously feed your inner superhero. Subscribe.

Monday
Craft a vision for your career.
Don’t belabor it – this is the seven-day plan, not the Taj Mahal blueprint. What do you want to be doing in three years? Why? Where? With whom? How? Jot down your beliefs and values, your purpose (or what you think it might be), the kind of work culture in which you think you’d thrive, and the skills you want to use. Paint a picture of your preferred future. If you don’t, someone else will.

Tuesday
If you don’t already have one, identify a mentor (or two or three). Choose someone approachable and well respected – someone with influence, but not so far removed that they can’t relate to your everyday experience. Ask if they’re willing to chat with you for 30 minutes. In your first meeting, practice sharing aspects of your vision and ask for their feedback. Listen closely to the response with an ear for next steps. Take next steps.

Wednesday
Regain control of your calendar.
Make sure you carve out at least an hour a day to think. You’d be surprised by how many professionals say they don’t give much thought to their careers. This is a sign of extreme busy-ness, as in you’re moving from one task to the next – sometimes unconsciously. Checking lots of boxes, but not pausing to consider whether they’re the right boxes, isn’t going to get you very far. If you pause long enough to think, you might find out you should be checking circles instead.

Thursday
Invest in someone else.
You get what you give. Use this day to be a generous leader. Decide who you will support and how. Will you provide extra encouragement? Recommend someone for a special project? Tell their boss how well they’re doing? Share important insights? Give something of value to a colleague. Watch the goodness come back to you.

Friday
Ask for feedback.
The best way to discover your strengths or development areas is to ask. Ask 3-5 colleagues these 3 questions: What should I keep doing to better enable the team? Stop doing? Start doing? Actively listen, and commit to responding accordingly. Then go ahead and respond accordingly.

Saturday
Unplug.
Talented employees are inspired by leaders who effectively balance the personal and professional. Through modeling, unplugging sends a critical message to your team: You can lead and have a life. This is especially to the emerging workforce. Strong leaders of the future will need to engage diverse teams authentically.

There you go! A 7-Day plan to transforming your career! (Or a 7-Day plan to get moving, anyway.) Please share with others if you found this helpful, and let me know what you would do differently!

Tara Jaye Frank

Tara Jaye Frank is VP of Multicultural Strategy for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and the author of Say Yes: A Woman’s Guide to Advancing Her Professional Purpose, written to help women from all cultural backgrounds chart a career course they can believe in and achieve. Follow her on Twitter @tarajfrank and Facebook at Facebook/tarajayefrank, or visit her at tarajayefrank.com.

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