If you're looking for a fresh perspective on your existing job, career development expert Gloria Cotton has the know-how to help you breathe new life into your career. She shares 10 ways to improve your current job and accelerate your steps toward career success.

Assess Your Job
Identify the positive aspects of your career and use that as your motivation, Gloria says. "Many times people focus on the bad things about their job," she says. "My question is, 'If it's that bad, why do you continue to come every day?' There must be a good reason for you to put yourself through this."

Also, understand what you gain from your job. Some people say they're working for the paycheck, but even in poor financial times, no one really works just for the paycheck, Gloria says. "The paycheck enables them to do and have something that's valuable to them," she says.

Identify S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Acknowledge S.M.A.R.T. goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and can occur within a time line, Gloria says. Figure out how long do you need to work in your current and future positions within the company and what's driving this time line.

Also, decide who is involved in your goals and what that person's value to you is. "Notice the reference again to our personal values," she says. "Our motivations are attached to our values. The stronger the value, the stronger the motivation."

Create Long- and Short-Term Plans
While still at your job, expand and enhance your measurable value in your current position and analyze and position yourself for promotion, Gloria says. "Sometimes short-term plans are about surviving in a position in ways that are honoring to you—not just surviving and bleeding each day," she says. "That can feel like death."

When you are planning to leave the position, think about how will you leave with honor and dignity, without burning bridges that you may need for yourself or others in the future, Gloria says.

Build Your Relationship with Your Manager
Figure out what you can do to be your boss' "go-to" person, and make your manager feel like you're providing her an answer to the question. Gloria calls this WIIFM: "What's in it for me?" Putting yourself in this position means you're making your boss—or the team—shine and possibly providing a service for the external customer. "It's your job to make your manager look good," she says. "Some managers' WIIFM is in knowing they've helped you look good. And it's all good when you have that mutually reciprocating relationship."

If you cannot achieve this relationship, make your relationship all about helping your manager, but do this only in ways that do not compromise your integrity, ethics or values, Gloria says.

Set Boundaries with Your Manager
Being your manger's go-to person doesn't mean compromising yourself or make you an on-call, 24-7 employee, unless that is truly a part of your position's performance requirements, Gloria says. "You need to clarify what will be done, when, where and how," she says. "Your manager clarifies what has to be done for excellent job performance."

Also, discuss expectations and boundaries when it comes to behaviors and interactions during work hours and off hours, Gloria says. For example, if your manager works best at 4:30 a.m. and your work day officially begins at 9 a.m., unless it's an emergency, it's inappropriate for your manager expect that you'll respond to a 4:30 a.m. phone call or text message. "These behavioral contracts between you and your manager must be identified and agreed to," Gloria says.

Find a Mentor
Seek out a mentor who fulfills the following four criteria:

  • She's been at your workplace, done the work and is/was successful in working in a situation like yours or with a manager, or co-workers, like yours.
  • She is available to you via the medium that works best for you, such as in person, by e-mail or by phone.
  • She is willing to help you.
  • She speaks your language: You understand her, and she understands you.

Clarify Who Your "True Self" Is
People tend to continuously reinvent themselves and still find no sustained happiness or landing place, Gloria says. Sometimes it's because they're living their lives through the eyes of someone else or they're living up to others' expectations, she says. "Sometimes we confuse what we do and the responsibilities and accountabilities of the roles we play at work, with family and in the community with our true selves," she says. "Use formal, informal assessment instruments, processes or chats with friends to help answer this question."

Create a Perception Plan
Let people know who you are through word or deed and decide what do you want people to know about you, your work, your needs, strengths and weaknesses, Gloria says. "Without a specific plan, sometimes people see and interpret your behavior through their lenses, based on who they are and the subsequent perception of you." Make sure others understand who you are, the WIIFMs to them and how they are aligned with the WIIFMs to you. "That's a win-win," she says.

Start Your Day Right
Use the approaches and tools that work best for you—faith, intention, practice—to begin creating a successful day before going into the workplace, Gloria says. For example, try yoga exercises, pray or use The Secret to predetermine the outcomes of your activities and interactions with others at work. "Articulate the personal as well as the professional goals for each day," she says.

End Your Day Right
At the end of each day, review your accomplishments, Gloria says. "Celebrate yourself and all that you did and all that you attempted," she says. "Remember that the next day brings another opportunity with the rising of the sun." 

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