16 May Ten Ways to Build a Competitive Edge in Your Career
What if the key to having an edge in your career had less to do with your natural talent levels and more about daily choices you had full power to make?
It can be.
In fact, most of us have the agency to carve out a competitive advantage in our career over our peers by doing the small, “can’t see” winning choices that compound over time to create the “can’t miss” winning results.
Just because anyone can make these choices doesn’t mean they will. Only those who are committed to excelling in their career will follow through
1. Read a minimum of 10 minutes every day.
Over 1/4 of Americans didn’t read a single book last year, and half of those who did read a book chose fiction. Imagine how far ahead of your peers you can put yourself by reading a single business or leadership book.
Now imagine how far you’d be if you read 12-15 books in a year? The knowledge gained (and hopefully applied) would create a career game-changer.
The idea of reading fifteen books is overwhelming for a lot of people, but what about 10 minutes every day? That’s doable with your morning coffee or at night before you go to bed.
The best part? Stacking 10 minutes a day – roughly one chapter a day – will get you through 1+ books a month, which will help you read well over 12 books in a given year.
2. Workout 4-5x every week.
Working out should be an essential part of one’s routine in order to keep their body strong, mind sharp, and energy levels high. We can’t expect to bring our best consistently in our career unless we’re preparing our physical body to it.
What we eat. How much water do we drink. How often do we move. All of these healthy habits stack to allow us to thrive physically and mentally – so we can thrive in the work we do day-to-day.
3. Write down your goals – and then make a plan to achieve them.
Less than 20% of people write down their goals, even though writing them down makes you 42% more likely to reach them than not.
Even fewer people make a plan and take action toward their goals. By doing so, you’re already giving yourself a competitive edge over 80+% of people!
One of the best ways I’ve found to attack this is to set the end goal and then start working backward (reverse engineering) each small step until you identify the one thing you can do today to move forward.
4. Join a mastermind or networking group.
Hubspot recently reported that 85% of jobs are filled through networking and relationships. The more people we know – and add value to – the more opportunities we create for ourselves. Not only do we grow in these healthy groups by learning more, but we create opportunities to contribute to others and increase our own leadership influence.
5. Hire a business or career coach.
One of the best shortcuts to success I’ve found is through working with a coach who helps me shore up my blind spots and avoid certain pitfalls. A coach is an investment in yourself, and a trusted ally who will speak truth to you and help guide you from where you are today, to where you want to go, while avoiding the failures that perhaps they themselves experienced.
A great coaching relationship with help you grow, speed up your route to success, and can even help you avoid heartbreak along the way.
6. Invest in your financial literacy & retirement.
More than 30% of Americans don’t have any money set aside for their retirement. Many times, we don’t see the value of setting aside $50 or $100 because “it’s not that much,” and we’d rather spend it today.
However, our careers all come to an end at some point and the better we’ve done financially throughout our career, the better we’ll be positioned to live when it’s over. Saving doesn’t have to be a big chunk right now but setting aside small amounts every week or month.
One of the first things I ever did was open a traditional IRA and contribute a little bit every paycheck until I reached my max each year.
7. Be intentional with how you use social media.
Social media has its advantages for learning and networking, but it’s a quicksand pit if you’re not careful. All of us have experienced the “I went on to post and one hour later I’m still scrolling” feeling. The platforms are designed to trap you and keep you on it, so give yourself a competitive edge by being more intentional with how you use them.
Set timers throughout the day of when you’ll get on social media to post or scroll – and have a deadline for when you’ll get off.
The more you can control how you use social media, the better your productivity will be offline and the less you’ll be just a product of Meta or Twitter.
8. Plan your day the night before.
It’s too late to plan your day once it starts. Emails start filling up our inbox. Customers call our phones. Coworkers “just pop by” our office. Our attention is under attack every day and it’s common to be so distracted from what our own priorities should be.
To give yourself a competitive advantage, try planning your day the night before. You’ll want to identify:
- What are my current commitments on the calendar and when?
- What are my 3 key objectives to get done tomorrow and at what time will I plan to do them?
- What challenges do I need to be aware of that could derail me?
Knowing these 3 key bullet points will give you an edge to be on the offensive attack all day and making progress toward your goals instead of on your heels playing defense and whack-a-mole with other people’s problems.
9. Trade one long weekend or short vacation for…
…a business or personal development conference. I love sitting on the beach with a glass of tequila and smelling the saltwater air, but it’s as important that we invest in our growth as we do our rest and recovery. I can’t tell you how many strong relationships I’ve built and the knowledge I’ve gained that’s changed my career have come from these types of events.
It’s just 2-3 days – you’ve got plenty more to get on the ski slopes or a beach. Make sure you’re investing in your knowledge and network growth.
10. Play the long game.
In everything – your relationships, learning, fitness, perspective and growth. Don’t look for shortcuts or hacks. Take a big picture approach when most of the world is trying to play the short game. It takes patience and discipline, but the best positions you to have the advantage throughout your entire career.
Our small choices stack to big results.
Building a competitive edge in your career comes down to the small choices made every single day. In order to create the impact and career that everyone wants, you have to make the winning choices that everyone can but most won’t.