How to Create Value in Your Career

July 12th, 2020

 
Around here, we like to talk about what to do with your money, from saving to borrowing to investing. But before you can make all those smart, wealth-building choices (which you’re obviously going to make), you need to generate wealth in the first place. And that starts with your ability to create value.
 
So let’s dig into what that really means.
 

Thinking in terms of your value

Whether you’re an entrepreneur starting a business, gainfully employed, or searching for a new job, there’s one simple mantra for success;
 
The more you give, the more you get.
 
Okay, sounds a little cheesy, and no, it doesn’t always shake out perfectly – sometimes you need to give more than you get (sorry, we have to say it). But in general it’s true. And on average, what you put into something is what you get out of it.
 
So if you want to get more out of work or life, then you need to be thinking about the value you are creating. What are YOU bringing to the table?
 
This starts with meeting your assumed responsibilities. Be on time. Get your work done. Don’t be a pain in the butt to work with. All of that good stuff is essential.
 
But it also goes beyond that. Do you seek out creative solutions to problems? Do you help others do their jobs better? What unique skills/abilities do you bring to your roll? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself.
 
And to be clear, value is not synonymous with money.
 
There are a lot of ways to bring value to your world that don’t result in direct monetary gain, and you should absolutely pursue them. But the reality is, money is the conventional (and most convenient) way to recognize and compensate value in the workplace. So for better or worse, it plays an important role in how we operate and transact.
 

Focus on achievement and leverage your strengths

Employers and customers alike want to deal with people who can get things done and do them well. So use your strengths to your advantage.
 
We’re often told to work on our weaknesses, which can be helpful, especially if you feel particularly lacking in a critical area.
 
But you’ll actually get more bang for your buck by concentrating on your strengths and leveraging them as much as possible. Doesn’t it feel great when you can do something really well? You want to apply that feeling to your career too. Build on your natural talents and hone them further.
 
You also want to be goal-oriented and always on the lookout for ways to improve how/what you deliver. But keep an eye on efficiency too. If doing one thing slightly better sucks up a lot of your time, it may not be worth it. Be efficient in how you achieve.
 
And be sure to get feedback from those around you – both positive AND negative. Groan. Yes, negative feedback is beneficial too, probably more beneficial actually. You may feel like you’re succeeding (and you probably are) but without objective, constructive feedback, it can be hard to know. Some jobs include it as part of regular reviews, but if yours doesn’t, be proactive and ask for it.
 

Seek out opportunities for personal growth

As if all of this wasn’t enough, you also need to be thinking about how to increase your value over time. We know, it’s a lot. And you don’t need to do all of this stuff on day one. But it’s good to be aware of how you can improve and grow.
 
Here are a few suggestions to get the mental juices flowing.
 

Take on more responsibility

Probably the best way to foster personal development is through experience. So actively seek out new and challenging responsibilities. When appropriate, ask your boss for more difficult tasks. And take advantage of the right opportunities that come your way.
 
You don’t necessarily need to say yes to everything, but you don’t want to squander opportunities either. So be thoughtful with your choices and be grateful for the chances. And be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where the real growth happens.
 
Also keep in mind, your newfound responsibilities might not come with a higher paycheck immediately. But you’ll be building out your skills and becoming a more valued member of the team. And eventually that will translate into good things (we promise).
 

Get more education/training

While more education doesn’t automatically translate into value creation, it usually doesn’t hurt. And in some cases it’s essential for getting to the next level.
 
It can range from getting a full-time or part-time graduate degree, to taking online courses and attending seminars, or even on-the-job training. Some industries also offer certifications and designations to demonstrate levels of proficiency in particular areas. And some employers will even pay for your education/training, or part of it, which is a great deal if you can score it. So ask your manager and see what’s available.
 
Long story short, your options for career development are nearly endless as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
 

Adopt a mentor

Another great way to grow is to seek out inspiring people you want to be like and learn from them directly. They might work at your organization or in your industry, or maybe they don’t. You can still learn a lot from someone even if they haven’t walked the exact same path, and it’s usually good to get different perspectives.
 
But remember, people are busy and have limited time. So be gracious and appreciative of any support you get. No one owes you anything. Make people WANT to help you.
 

Finding purpose

Ultimately, creating value is really about finding purpose in what you do. Yes, the money is obviously important – who doesn’t like getting paid more? But when you’re creating value, working hard, and making other peoples’ lives better, you’ll find a lot more satisfaction and purpose in your own life. And that’s something you can’t put a price on. So get to it and get back to what you do best!
 

Anything else we can help you with?

► What to do if you’ve been laid off

► Your COVID-19 Financial Playbook

► Learn about investing with our Investing Cheat Sheet

 

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