So you’re ready for career advancement. Enough going with the flow, and no more sitting on the sidelines, this is the year that you’re really going to make things happen and step up in your career.

That’s great!  But what exactly can you do to make sure that you succeed in getting career progression? Because after all, doing the same things you’ve always done and expecting different results is a sign of madness.  If you really want to advance your career, you’re going to have to pull out all the stops.

Here are 10 things you can do to make sure you stand out and get the kind of recognition and success that you truly deserve. What’s more, taking these 10 steps will significantly increase your chances of career advancement.

10 steps to take for your career advancement

1. Set clear goals for your career

If you’re serious about your career advancement, then you’ll need to be clear about your career goals. Just thinking about what you want won’t make it happen and before you know it, you’re likely to be lost and off course, wondering how your colleague ended up getting that promotion you wanted.

Even if you’re having appraisals with your manager, it’s worth setting yourself some personal goals and checking in on them regularly. If things change, you can always pivot and change course, but without a roadmap of where you’re headed, worst-case scenario, you’re likely to end up feeling stuck in a rut, fed up, and unhappy with how you’ve let another year go to waste. So grab yourself a fancy notepad and set yourself some goals if you really want to kick ass, get promoted, and advance in your career this year.

2. Speak up.

Do you find yourself sitting in meetings with lots of great ideas but never have the nerve to say anything, and have you ever pointed something out to a colleague that would make a real difference only to find out that they’re suddenly championing a great new cause they came up with(argh!).

If this sounds familiar, then this is the year you speak up. Because no one is going to hand you success for doing great work quietly, whether it’s an amazing project you want to lead on or a presentation you’d love the chance to do, if you know you’re the best woman for the job, ask for it. The bottom line is, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The more you throw your hat in the ring, the more you’ll be seen as the kind of person who has drive and ambition, and what’s more, you’ll be seen as the confident, go-getter that every company wants to progress.

3. Challenge more

Speaking up in meetings and asking for what you want is a great start, but speaking doesn’t stop there. Speaking up isn’t just about saying the things that people want to hear, it’s often about challenging. And if you’re looking for career advancement, then you need to get comfortable challenging more.

We all know that it’s good to challenge, and no one likes a yes man, or woman! But it’s easier said than done. Did you ever get asked to do something by your boss, and go ahead and do it, all the while thinking, “ there must be a better way than this”

If you analyze anyone who’s successful, one thing they will definitely have no trouble doing is challenging things. Whether it’s challenging the way things are done in a bid to improve them, or challenging and questioning their actions and the actions of the people around them. All to make sure that their actions have a purpose and a valuable outcome.

Being able to speak your mind and challenging the status quo will show that you’re really thinking and not just blindly following the crowd and going through the motions. You might even help others see things in a great new light. If others don’t agree with your perspective, at least they’ll respect you for the fact you had the courage to speak your mind.

If you’re going to challenge your boss, you might not want to pick that moment when she’s flying off the handle about something, like anything picking the right moment will make all the difference.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

How obvious right! You’re probably thinking just that. But, of all the times you’ve read about the importance of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, how many times a day, week or even month do you actually do it?

If you’re like most bright intelligent and amazing women, the answer is still likely to be not very often.

There’s a reason it’s called a comfort zone because it’s just that! Comfortable! This means, that every day you have to actually fight the urge to stay there and push yourself, sometimes even force yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Where your career’s concerned, the list of things currently not inside your comfort zone could include speaking to those people in that other department you hardly know, maybe even having lunch with them, asking to do that presentation when you really don’t want to or challenging your boss!

Whatever it is that lies beyond your comfort zone, those are the things that will hold you back from getting that promotion and from the career advancement you want.

Staying in your comfort zone won’t only halt your career progression,  it will even prevent you from making a great career lateral move, a career change or even starting your own business. So, make the decision now, that you will do at least one thing each day that makes you really uncomfortable.

5. Get up an hour earlier

This may sound like a horrid pointless exercise but stay with me.

I love my bed, and I would have previously vowed that I was a night owl. But this hasn’t changed the fact that when I get up earlier it changes my whole day.

This isn’t about just getting up early for the sake of it, it’s what you choose to do with that extra time that counts. These are the type of things that will set you up for the best day ever. So, before you read on, make the promise to get up 1 hour earlier.

This way you’ll be able to do the next 5 things on the list and more. These are the extra mile things that only very committed people will do. The ones who are fully committed to their career advancement and success.

6. Be intentional about your days

Now that you’re getting up earlier, one thing you can do is set your mind up for a successful day. If your serious about career advancement then getting really intentional about your days is a must. It will help you to hit the ground running when you start work, as well as making sure you’re on track and on top of deadlines and any goals you set.

Think about the day ahead and decide, exactly how you want it to go, running yourself through the things you need to do and seeing them going well, great even!

This might all sound a bit whoo whoo, but just try it for a week and see what difference it makes. The chances are you’re more likely to get off on the right foot which will have the knock-on effect of making the day go much better ( more on this here )

7. Build new relationships

It’s great to spend time with people we know, whether that’s colleagues or friends. But, by doing this, most of us are missing out on potentially some of the most amazing and rewarding relationships we could have. The relationships with new and interesting people we just haven’t met yet.

As cheesy as it sounds, this is one of the most important aspects of succeeding, progressing, learning, and generally getting anywhere in life, because, as the great quote goes, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”Jim Rohn.  Clearly, it’s important to pick them wisely.

Join Linkedin groups, build relationships with colleagues in other departments, attend industry events, join Clubhouse. However, you do it, expand your network.

8. Master the art of ASKING

We’ve already touched on this point when it comes to speaking up, but it’s so important it deserves a spot of its own. It’s easy to look around and wonder how some people seem to have all the “luck” and great things just happening for them.

But did you ever ask them how these things came about? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of asking. Whether it’s a pay rise, a promotion, a flexible work arrangement, a better desk at the office, an office of your own, ok, maybe that’s pushing it, but why not! If you don’t ask for things you just won’t know what’s possible.

At the very least you’ll find out what you need to do to get the thing, then you can do what’s necessary to get it.

Asking is not just for discounts!

9. Invest in your own learning and development

If you’re reading this, you’re clearly a savvy career woman who takes control of her own life. When it comes to personal development, this is no different. Great companies may invest in training but that might not be enough and it might not cover what you want or need. What’s more, if you work for a small or medium-sized company then the resources available might be limited.

If you’re serious about getting ahead, advancing in your career, and being the best you, then at some point, you’re going to have to invest in yourself, whether that’s money or time spent learning new skills, either way, it’s worth it.

So, think about something you’ve wanted to learn, improve, excel at, and commit to taking a short course ( in-company or outside) to finally get yourself where you want to be. Whether that’s improving your excel skills, picking up coding skills, improving your presentation or communication skills, or something else.

One of the potential benefits of upskilling yourself is that you can then come back and provide training to other people in the company in this area. Knowledge sharing in this way will definitely help you to stand out.

10. Join or Start a mastermind

If you’re thinking of starting your own business then a mastermind might be something you’ve read lots about, but even if you want to step it up in the corporate world, a mastermind might just be the ticket.

This is a group of people meeting to discuss ideas, challenges, and solutions and helping each other to stay on point and on course to achieve their goals.

So a mastermind is invaluable whatever your career path and it can be as simple as meeting over dinner to talk about your industry and how you can all get ahead and dominate ( clearly no sharing of trade secrets, this is about your personal growth)

You’ll learn new things from other peoples’ experiences and you’ll also find out just how much you know and the value that you can bring, which we definitely need to be reminded of from time to time.

BONUS TIP. Invest in a coach

There’s a good reason that successful athletes have coaches and why the term CPD ( continued professional development) exists.  Life is about learning and developing and you can’t do either without outside support.

A coach can support you in numerous ways. From helping you work on developing specific skills ( for example, communication skills or public speaking skills, or presentation skills), a coach can help you prepare for interviews, both internal and external, and a coach can help you to develop your interpersonal skills and leadership skills, all before you get a promotion. It might just be the thing that helps you stand out in your next interview.

By investing in a coach, to help you in any aspect f your career, whether it’s for transition or development, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of anyone else simply because you took control and took proactive action. The act of doing this alone sets you apart and is sure to get you noticed as someone who’s ready for career advancement.

So, there you have, 11 proactive steps that you can take towards your career advancement.

So, go out and grab that beautiful journal and be ready to take note of all your successes along the way.