Personal growth is natural if it’s demanded of you within your career — especially if your success requires avoiding stagnation. But your development has to be more conscious if you’re in the same position or serving the same clientele over a long period of time.
Fortunately, you can keep learning while still maintaining a healthy relationship with your clients and your organization. In fact, your need to learn can actually be a catalyst to make you better at your job. Try one of these keys to constant improvement:
1. Cultivate mentors.
We often think about mentors cultivating us, but we should be cultivating potential mentorship, too. Whom do you look up to in your organization, in your social circle, or even in the world at large? If you aren’t sure, think about a person who represents where you’d like to be in the future — someone a few steps ahead of you in growth, wisdom or success.
The best mentor/mentee relationships are actually reciprocal. No matter your level of experience (or inexperience), there’s almost always something you can offer to a mentor, whether it be a special insight on the business or an open-minded, noncynical view of the world.
Ideally, you can build a relationship with a mentor, but that actually isn’t necessary for you to grow from his or her direct influence. In fact, mentorship can succeed as a one-way experience with someone you admire through his or her videos, books or online presence. It is also means the mentor can be alive and well right now or lived centuries ago.
2. Take on duties outside of your normal job that fit your interest.
This is taking the popular concept of the side hustle — often a hobby turned business you do outside of work — and bringing that same energy into your workplace. For instance, if you do administrative work, but also have an untapped interest in computer programming, offer to help with installing new software on the work computers. It brings interesting challenges to your work, provides added value to your workplace — and could even create new salary or job opportunities for you.
3. Join a networking group.
Job happy hours will do little to expand your horizons, so go beyond just socializing with your usual co-workers or colleagues. Instead, look for social opportunities not just with people who have the same job or career, but who have similar mindsets and goals. A small-business accountant could spend time with other CPAs or go even further by connecting with other small-business allies such as personal coaches, website designers and social media managers. Look for overlaps beyond the obvious.
4. Discuss your interest in expanding with your organization.
Depending on the culture, your leaders may welcome your desire for growth and learning. Think about how you ideally want the organization to help cultivate you: for example, supporting you going back to school or giving you more responsibility within your position. Carefully gauge your leadership, think about how you want to approach the subject and make it clear your main interest is in growing within the organization, not out of the organization.