There are exams to tell you how well you’re progressing in class, honors and other accolades to reward you for your hard work, and teachers, parents and friends to pick you up and cheer you on when you’re struggling.
Unfortunately, the working world doesn’t offer this kind of continual feedback loop, and that’s one of the hardest things for recent graduates to come to terms with.
Rather than quarterly evaluations, you may be waiting a whole year to do a review with your boss. Instead of instant feedback on papers and quizzes, you may have to wait to see how your department as a whole performs at the end of a quarter. And if you’re starting your own business or are in the midst of the job search, you’re really on your own when the going gets tough.
That’s why if you want to get ahead in your career, you have to learn to self-motivate and be your own cheerleader.
Here’s a few ways to give yourself the kinds of rewards and achievement recognition you’re used to getting from the educational system.
Set Your Own Benchmarks
In school, you’re completely in charge of your destiny. How well you do is directly related to how much work you put in to your studies. But in your career, it might not always be that transparent. Some projects you work on may take weeks or months to come together, and you may be waiting on information or documents from other departments.
So make your own daily, weekly and monthly benchmarks. If you’re in a new position, this may mean completing a particular task or leaning a new skill. If you’re in a job search, this may mean submitting a certain number of resumes each week or attending networking events in your area. Whatever they are, make them as finite as possible (i.e. “apply to such and such company” vs. “send out resumes”), because nothing feels better than crossing off an item on your to-do list.
Learn How to Measure Success
In your educational career, success came in the form of As or Bs. But you don’t get a clear cut grade for what’s happening in your career. This is especially true if you’re position doesn’t have a set relationship to company profits (i.e. a sales position). This means you need to examine your personal benchmarks (as explained above) and figure out how to measure them. That may mean talking to others in your company, like colleagues or your boss, and figuring out how what you do helps sales, decreases costs, or increases productivity.
Once you’ve got an idea of how you can measure your success, see what tools exist out there to help you track and monitor it. This will not only help you in your current position, but it will also provide great statistics and measurements to use should you decide to start a job search.
Have an (Inexpensive) Rewards System
It would be awesome if ever single time you had a career success, you got a raise. But really, that’s not feasible in the business world. So create a rewards system you can rely on when you reach one of your own personal benchmarks or you complete a major project at work. The key here is to keep it inexpensive – buying a pair of designer shoes or the latest electronic gadget every time something awesome happens is only going to eat into your bank account. Take yourself to lunch, watch your favorite movie, or get together with friends to reward yourself for a job well done.
How do you motivate yourself in your career? What advice would you give to new graduates? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at myFootPath!
About the Author: Noël Rozny is Web Editor & Content Manager at myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. Noël writes and edits the career and education blog, myPathfinder, and is passionate about using these technologies to help students and job seekers alike find the degree program or career that is right for them. Visit myFootpath.com to find the bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD program that’s right for you. Connect with Noel on Twitter!