Career-Oriented People Master These 7 Habits

Career-oriented habits of mind can change your professional trajectory, so adopt these practices today.

Written by Sayli Samant
Published on Oct. 05, 2022
Career-Oriented People Master These 7 Habits
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
Brand Studio Logo

The term “career-oriented,” by definition, means someone who has a definitive goal about her job or her position at her workplace. And it also means someone who has a plan to achieve that goal.

People who have a clear vision about their futures at work usually see more impactful results as opposed to the ones who are just along for the ride. They tend to be more focused.

We’re living in times where the words “job security” have no meaning. Today, many of us are still struggling to retain our jobs and maybe do a bit extra in the process.

And getting to that extra bit is no easy feat. Your specific job, position, or office all are secondary factors, however; what matters most is your mindset. With the right mindset, the process of setting career goals, tracking your success and reviewing your actions becomes almost mechanical.

So, here are some mindful habits highly career-oriented people possess that can change your career trajectory.

7 Habits of Career-Oriented People

  1. They steer clear of excuses.
  2. They are always one step ahead.
  3. They know how to achieve work-life balance.
  4. They use their time as capital.
  5. They make networking an everyday practice.
  6. They deliver on their commitments.
  7. They don’t shy away from going the extra mile.

More in Career DevelopmentAre You Really Ready to Become an Executive?


1. They Steer Clear of Excuses

As humans, making excuses is like second nature to us. We often do it to justify the lack of productivity to ourselves or others.

But the fact remains that they’re just stories we tell to compensate for our laziness and lack of judgment. Whenever you think you’ve had a legitimate reason to not do something, you need to self-evaluate and see if it was a genuine misstep that you couldn’t get to that task on time or if it was the result of procrastination and lack of intent on your part.

And if the latter seems more likely, then you need to change your general behavior. Because, even if you believe that you made up a great excuse, the person subjected to these white lies usually can see right through them. And such things never fly in high-pressure workplaces. Therefore, you’ll never see career-oriented people offering the following excuses and you shouldn’t either:

  • I was stuck in traffic.
  • Car troubles.
  • That's not my job.
  • I was not assigned this task.

Practices to follow:

  • Set small, actionable goals.
  • Set practical and actionable work deadlines.
  • Give yourself breathing time. 

If you’re assigned a task, go ahead and make a moderately flexible deadline for yourself. Create a breathing space in your work schedule. So, even if something drastic happens, you don’t have to succumb to excuses.


2. They Are Always One Step Ahead

Promotions and big salary hikes never come easy. They’re the result of numerous long hours and canny use of intellect and hard work. Career-focused individuals are proactive in their workplaces.

These folks don’t wait around to be asked to do something. If they see a certain task or a challenge in the near future, they start their research beforehand. They familiarize themselves with the subject at hand and get acquainted with all the hurdles they might have to face. They’re always one step ahead.

Thus, when they’re finally burdened with said task, success almost seems inevitable.

Practices to follow:

  • Educate yourself with complementary skills.
  • Get acquainted with the future of your business.

Research online about complementary courses related to your job profile. Invest in a viable option, and keep yourself updated with the latest trends in your field. Be proactive at your workplace, and take responsibility if you see an opportunity.


3. They Know How to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Often, when we want to succeed in a professional setting, we tend to ignore our personal commitments. Balancing professional success and personal life is a challenging task.

But if you develop a good work-life balance, it results in a stress-free life, more productive hours, and an efficient and happy personal life.

Being career-oriented doesn’t mean that you have to commit to long hours and manage all the extra responsibilities attached to it. Instead, it essentially requires a well-structured and practical work schedule.

Practices to follow:

  • Make exercise a priority.
  • Schedule family time.

Ensure exercise is given as much priority in your life as your clients and making money. A healthy body means a fresh mind, which means you will function better and complete tasks in less time. Also, if you think and know that you have extensive work commitments and less time for family or friends, then schedule phone calls or coffee breaks with your loved ones. Put them in your calendar. This way, you’ll have time carved out for yourself.


4. They Use their Time as Capital

When you’re part of the nine-to-five work cycle, time can be relative to the function of work. Every hour matters to the fullest. And efficient people not only know this but capitalize on the idea of time batching.

They use the time to their benefit and in manageable chunks. If they make a change in their day-to-day work schedule, then they do the same every month.

Practices to follow:

  • Make a to-do list on your way to work. 
  • Track all your projects in an Excel sheet.
  • Make a weekly to-do list on weekends.

I usually make voice notes on my way to work. This helps me save time in the initial hours of the day. You can use the notes app on your smartphone or just make a to-do list in your email. Also, make an Excel sheet with weekly review tabs where you can track all your projects in one place. This will help review your progress promptly.

Finally, use this to make a weekly to-do list at the beginning of the week. If you have a clear picture of what you wish to achieve in the coming week, the goal seems somewhat attainable. Review these weekly goals at mid-week for better results.


5. They Make Networking an Everyday Practice

While you’re reading this, think back on all the missed opportunities and conversations that didn’t happen because you were afraid to initiate communication. If you are flooded with more than three such incidences, then you need to cultivate this habit.

No one wants to be pushed out of their comfort zones but ask yourself this: “Does anything interesting ever happen in a comfort zone?”

Effort and networking are really similar in that sense. And active participation on your part is all that’s required. All one has to do is initiate a conversation, if it doesn’t lead anywhere, fine. But the possibility of its turning into anything only opens up if you make that first effort.

Practices to follow:

  • Try to find common ground in a conversation and then capitalize on that.
  • Pay attention to your colleagues and get updates on their lives.
  • Market yourself as a brand.
  • Always carry your business card with you.

It doesn't matter if your business card is in physical form or virtual. Keep it with you. And always end a possible meeting with clients or colleagues with a business card exchange. This ensures a personal touch and makes a great first impression.


6. They Deliver on Their Commitments

Talent is impressive, yes. But hard work and genuine effort are commendable attributes too. And career-oriented people recognize this. They only make the commitments they can follow through on.

If something doesn’t seem feasible to them in the given time frame, they won’t commit to it. As they recognize that a failed commitment is worse than a non-existent one.

This quality makes them indispensable as people around them can count on them as opposed to someone else who always commits to a certain thing and never delivers.

Practices to follow:

  • Always analyze the work you are already committed to before agreeing to a deadline.
  • When necessary, learn to say no.
  • Use all the resources available to deliver on a time.
  • Approach every commitment as a deliverable.


7. They Don’t Shy Away From Going the Extra Mile

Two days ago, my supervisor asked me to complete a three-day job in three hours since he was running late that day. I was continuously coordinating with him on phone to get the job done in such a short time. At lunchtime, I sent him a text saying, “I am going for lunch.” But when I returned to my desk, he was already present.

He looked at me surprised and asked, “Weren’t you off to lunch?” I said, “I was. I am done.” And then he checked the time stamp on the message I sent him. Turns out, I had my lunch in nearly eight minutes.

I’m not saying you should sacrifice healthy eating habits. The point is a little extra effort, however minuscule, always shows. And these small moments and incidents paint your career’s big picture.

So, even if something seems out of your comfort zone, give it your best shot.

Practices to follow:

  • Work smarter, not harder.
  • Use technology to your advantage.
  • Organize your tasks with your team members.

Grow Your Career How to Counter Offer in a Salary Negotiation


The Takeaway

People are not born productive. They aren’t just proactive for the sake of it. Rather, it’s a culture. And these habits are definitive steps you can take to be part of that culture.

So, if you want to do a tad bit extra at work and need a framework to follow, then these habits must be your go-to. Measure your results, not your time.

A bit of effort and mindfulness can change in your career.

Hiring Now
Healthtech • Other • Sales • Software • Analytics • Conversational AI