Tracking your career fitness is a simple, easy process—and it can make all the difference to your professional success.
By Giselle Galper
As a society, we depend on data—and it doesn’t matter whether that data relates to something personal or professional. We count calories and steps, track our investments, keep logs of our health issues, and download apps to analyze our sleep patterns. We would never drive a car that didn’t have a fuel gauge, much less try to determine how well a business was doing without looking at its finances or key performance indicators.
So why don’t we do the same for our careers? Unless we’re working with a career coach, actively searching for a new job, or just beginning a new role, most of us don’t take the time to write down our career plans and objectives. We don’t keep a list of the milestones we’ve achieved, or the accomplishments we’ve worked so hard for.
For me, the answer was rooted in my childhood. I am the daughter of an Argentine immigrant who believed—and taught me—that if I worked hard and got good grades in school, I could achieve whatever I wanted in my career. Unfortunately, while my mom had a lot of great advice about other topics, she was wrong about that being the recipe for career success.
In school, if you work hard and perform well on exams and homework assignments, you’ll automatically achieve success in the form of a shiny gold star or an A at the top of your paper. The workplace doesn’t work that way. Your boss doesn’t look over every task you complete and give you a grade. They don’t set you an exam at the end of every quarter to see how much you’ve learned. They might not even be aware of all the different things on your plate. If you want your boss (or anyone else) to know how well you’re performing, you have to tell them—and in order to do that, you have to have a comprehensive list on hand that details all your recent achievements, successes, and wins.
At its core, that’s all career fitness tracking really is. It starts with writing down your career goals, motivations, and objectives. From there, it’s about creating a record of your progress in achieving those goals—whether that’s a small, everyday accomplishment or your most amazing triumph—and making note of your feelings about that task or project.
The more you build out that list of accomplishments, the better you’ll understand yourself and the actions you need to take to reach your career goals—and the better positioned you’ll be to explain to both your boss and your wider network exactly how much you bring to a team.