How to advance in your career without becoming a workaholic

How to advance in your career without becoming a workaholic

In this competitive and everchanging job market, how can you progress in your career without sacrificing work-life balance?

The pathway to success has changed a lot in recent years, sparking passionate debate about merit and work ethic.

Workers from older generations sometimes regard younger people as being entitled or lazy, despite research showing that young workers today face extreme barriers to securing employment, including multiple financial crises, globalisation, population growth, and automation of tasks once done by humans.

Young people today typically study for longer, change jobs and careers more frequently, and face greater competition when applying for entry-level roles after completing their studies.

Historically, career advancement was often a somewhat linear process of study and graduation, securing a contract in a field, and rising through the ranks via promotions and pay rises.

These days, employees are more likely to work a number of different roles, at different organisations, and explore five entirely different career fields in their lifetime.

In this competitive and everchanging job market, how can you progress in your career without sacrificing work-life balance entirely?

Read on for some career advancement strategies that don’t require becoming a workaholic.

Network strategically

The adage ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’ has never been truer, as word of mouth and recommendations continue to become more important than formal qualifications or a list of skills on a resume.

Attending social events at work can help build a variety of professional relationships with people whose recommendation or advice you may need in the future.

Networking is crucial for building professional support systems, improving confidence, keeping your finger on the pulse in your industry, and building a reputation that attracts new opportunities.

Networking can take place in person or online, however be mindful of what you post, even on your personal social media.

Nothing online is entirely private, and in today’s connected world it’s perfectly possible that potential hiring managers will check your online presence when considering you for a role.

Become a lifelong learner

Many people fall into the trap of believing that once they have completed their studies, or worked in a profession for a long time, that they have acquired all the skills and knowledge they need.

This fixed mindset can inhibit growth and development, and in a world where technology and globalisation mean the way we work is constantly in flux, it’s important to remain open to learning new ways of operating and thinking.

Seeing change as an opportunity for growth rather than a threat to existing processes, or change for change’s sake, can also improve your resilience and strengthen your wellbeing at work and at home.

Prioritise and learn to say no

Rather than working yourself ragged and doing a mediocre job at several different assignments, dedicate most of your energy to the project with the most impact potential.

Where possible, saying no to tasks you don’t have time or energy for will free up mental capacity to do an exceptional job that may get you awarded recognition, further opportunity or promotion.

Creating a personal work plan that is realistic and achievable will also help reduce the need for multi-tasking, which can negatively impact productivity and leave you feeling flustered and overwhelmed.

Have a hobby

Creativity at work can be hard to come by, however, spending all your waking hours at your desk is not likely to get those juices flowing.

Having a hobby has been shown to improve productivity, break the cycle of monotony and inspire creative solutions to problems in the workplace.

Having a hobby also improves your mental and physical wellbeing and can provide an important counterbalance to long hours spent in the workplace.

Work smarter, not harder

The pace of work has increased significantly in recent years, with most employees now expected to accomplish more work in less time.

If you are struggling to effectively manage your work hours, digital productivity tools can be helpful in improving time management, prioritising tasks, tracking progress, and fighting procrastination.

Outsourcing or automating jobs like administrative tasks or customer service can also clear up some bandwidth in your mind to focus on the big picture or dedicate more time to an important project.

Practise gratitude

When people describe their feelings towards their job, ‘grateful’ is rarely the first word that comes to mind, though perhaps it should be.

Adopting an attitude of gratitude towards work can be transformative, leading to better personal wellbeing, a more balanced approach to working, and more fulfillment and success.

Consciously seeking out the positive aspects of your job can also help strengthen professional relationships and empower you to respond to challenges with ease, which can in turn attract recognition and career advancement without unnecessary added stress.

Find what works for you

Career progression looks different for everyone, and will change throughout a person’s career as their skills, experience, personal circumstances and values evolve.

Fortunately, there has never been more flexibility and freedom to pursue a career path that inspires, motivates, and energises you.

Even those who love their job or have high ambition should remember that work does not define a person’s value or identity.

Career advancement is possible without excessive sacrifice in your personal life, working excessive hours, or becoming a workaholic, because life is too short to spend it all at work.

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon

Emma Lennon is a passionate writer, editor and community development professional. With over ten years’ experience in the disability, health and advocacy sectors, Emma is dedicated to creating work that highlights important social issues.