Being successful in your career is a choice you have to make every day. That’s because every choice you make either moves you forward or moves you backward.
The problem is that we’re constantly inundated with ideas on how to be our best selves and be successful in our careers. Attend this conference. Workout in this way. Eat this special meal. There’s no end to what we can buy or do to improve, but rarely does anything work as it claims.
The reality is that it’s not the big things that make the difference. It’s the small daily habits that don’t seem important that can have the biggest impact on your career. After all, anything that you do over and over again becomes a vital piece of who you are.
So, what are the skills and daily habits that impact your career in big and small ways?
Read for at Least 30 Minutes
In the last year, more than a quarter of American adults admitted to not having read even part of a book. This is a huge problem considering how important reading is to your health and career. According to a study by the University of Toronto, when you read you become more open-minded and need less “cognitive closure.” This helps you make better decisions and be more creative. Reading at least 30 minutes daily also helps you live longer—as much as 23 months longer than nonreaders.
Smart and successful people take time to read every single day, and it doesn’t always have to be a book. You can read industry news, subscribe to popular business blogs, or download a comic book. The key is to constantly engage with new ideas, new voices, and new perspectives. To be a good communicator you first have to be a good reader.
And don’t just take my word for it. Many business titans are or have been avid readers. According to the New York Times, Steve Jobs loved the poet William Blake. Nike founder Phil Knight has a library, which he loves. Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein reads dozens of books each week. According to HBR, when you make reading one of the daily habits that impact your career, you can expect to:
- Improve your intelligence, which leads to innovation and insight.
- Become more empathetic and understanding of social cues.
- Feel more relaxed and reduce your stress by 68%.
Also read: Time Management Habits that Create Success
Connect with Your Network
You probably already long into social media daily, if not hourly, but that’s not really connecting with your network. There’s a difference between “liking” a post on LinkedIn and communicating personally with a friend, mentor, or associate in your network.
While it might not be realistic to set up a coffee date or head out to dinner with someone in your network on a daily basis, you can actively seek ways to reach out to your network and establish contact. The goal is to keep your network warm in a variety of ways.
You can do this by sending a private text or LinkedIn message when someone changes their job status. You can send an email to catch up with an old friend or sit down with a coworker over lunch.
No matter how you connect, this is one of the daily habits that impact your career the most. Relationships are the lifeblood of business and your life. Evidence shows that the more you connect with others, the better you feel physically and mentally.
Yes, we write every day in emails, notes, to-do lists, and meetings, but that’s not all the writing you should be doing. Journaling is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health, meet your goals, and enhance your entire quality of life. When you journal, you use the rational left side of your brain and the creative right side of your brain at the same time. This can make a big difference in your career success.
When you make journaling one of the daily habits that impact your career, you’ll discover that it:
- Boosts your mood
- Enhances your sense of well-being
- Reduces symptoms of depression
- Improves your working memory
- Helps PTSD
- Makes you more self-aware
- Shifts you into a positive mindset
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to look back on your accomplishments, failures, thoughts, and ideas, and write it all down in a journal. And this doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a leather notebook. You can journal in a blog that doubles as brand building. You can write a LinkedIn article, contribute to a discussion group, or just scribble on a few pieces of paper.
Ask More Questions
You’ll never improve if you don’t start figuring out what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to ask more questions and not just about work.
Be curious about your coworkers, friends, boss, and family members. Ask a colleague what they’re working on. Question a friend on a new idea. Speak up in meetings, while sitting at your desk, or at events, asking about things you don’t know. There truly is no such thing as a dumb question.
Innovators ask questions, that’s how they learn what’s needed. CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, believes asking questions are key. He said, “We run this company on questions, not answers.” And as Paul Sloan, the author of 17 books including The Innovative Leader said, “Brilliant thinkers never stop asking questions because they know that this is the best way to gain deeper insights.”
It seems simple, but every day you should take the time to ask at least five new questions. It’s one of those daily habits that impact your career in ways big and small.
Work on a Skill
You can learn something new every day. It doesn’t take much time or effort to work on a new, useful skill. All you have to do is have a plan in place. The key is to make learning skills a routine.
To do this, write out a list of goals that you’d like to accomplish in the next month. Then, identify at least three skills you’ll need to develop to accomplish those goals to the best of your ability. After that, all you have to do is invest the time to become great at it.
And your skills don’t have to be directly related to your career to impact your success. Learning how to play the guitar can help you relax, become more creative, and make you a happier individual. Learning how to garden can teach patience and give you a new hobby. The key is repetition and practice, which stimulate the basal ganglia in our brains, which are responsible for learning and movement.
Every skill you gain will not only enhance who you are as a person, but it will be vital to your career advancement.
There are a million daily habits that impact your career. Make sure you’re choosing to focus on those habits that make you better.
Looking for More Successful Habits?
Check out Our Collection of Productivity-focused Articles