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 The 5 most valuable investments for your career success

Reading Time: 4 minutes

What degree do I need? How do I use social media? What should I wear?

After many years of working with everyone from students to seasoned professionals, I can tell you that it all boils down to one question:  Where should I invest my time and money so I can ensure I’ll have the career I desire? That’s why I thought it was time to share what I believe are the five investments with the greatest return. Let’s go!


As both a career professional and fitness instructor, I can confirm that this – not a degree or expensive program – is the place to start. Movement is how we physically, then mentally, take action. When we move our bodies, we shift our energy. This energy can take us from stuck and anxious to steady and focused in just a few minutes.

Movement builds confidence because when we think about getting off the couch, and then do it, we tell our brain a wonderful new story about ourselves: that we ARE people of action. We mean and do what we say. This wonderful reshaping of our mindset can unlock a whole new world for us – new people, new possibilities and the ability to push past perceived limits.

To be clear, what I’m suggesting has nothing to do with weight loss or needing to fit some societal standard. It’s about informing your mind, each and every day, that you are worth the time and effort. Remember: people who own their value become valuable to others.

How to invest in movement:

  • Purchase a standing desk – march, stretch, squat or dance between emails!
  • Skip the boardroom – choose walking meetings and lunches instead
  • Join a fitness class – shake off the stress and meet new people you’ll look forward to seeing each week

When fear grabs us, we may be inclined to work harder and faster in an effort to outrun the fear. The problem? We burn out before we begin because we forgot to plan our route, ask for directions or even look up to see if we’re running toward what we actually want.

For those of us with a fixed mindset (yep, I’m talkin’ to you, fellow perfectionists) these experiences can be devastating due to our belief that every experience is a pass-or-fail test. Pass – we’re amazing and unstoppable! Fail – we’re losers, so why do we even try?

So how do we move forward when this happens? We develop a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, we create new pathways that allow us to see challenges as learning experiences instead of win-or-lose scenarios. This shift in our thinking can give us the courage we need to try new things and stretch outside of our comfort zone.

How to invest in mindset:

  • Watch Carol Dweck’s TED Talk “The Power of Believing You Can Improve”
  • Find a coach or mentor who will help you stay focused during challenging times
  • Journal your small wins each day – include improvements and insights

I know, I know. You’ve patiently read about movement and mindset so we should finally be on to education, right? I mean, education is essential to career success, right? Well … it is and it isn’t.

Many people think of education as a moment in time in which we pay our dues to get a piece of paper that should allow us to go forth and claim the career of our dreams. The problem is that when we commodify all learning, and our career ambitions don’t miraculously materialize, we can often remain stuck and resentful for years – even our entire working lives.

Following our curiosity, however, is about embracing the joy of life-long learning. It’s what helps us stay interested and interesting. It invites new people, enriching experiences and different perspectives into our lives. By investing in curiosity, we open our world to inspired ideas and creative solutions, and are better equipped to adapt to change and explore new opportunities.

How to invest in curiosity:

  • Play tourist for a day – visit a park, library, gallery or restaurant you’ve never been to before
  • Volunteer to work on a new project or assist a different team so you can develop new skills, relationships and solutions
  • Invite someone older/younger to join you for coffee. Ask them about their ideas and ambitions

Does it matter? Will it do anything for my career or job search? The short answer is YES.

Developing our network is an investment in the long game. The quality of our network, our partners in the game, will determine how far we can go and what impact we can make. When we surround ourselves with people who inspire us to develop our gifts and reach further than we thought possible, we land where we need to be.

How do you do this? Here’s Networking 101:

  • Research topics that challenge, interest and excite you
  • Reach out to people who are writing/talking about these things
  • Tell said people why you like their work and how it inspired you. (Don’t we all want to know when we’ve done some good?)

See? Easy peasy.


Surprised? Don’t be. Sales encompasses a valuable set of skills – active listening, collaboration, strategic prospecting, relationship building, research, negotiation, communication – so if we’re daring to convince anyone about anything, we need to get good at it.

Don’t think you’re selling anything? Here are some examples:

  • Competing for a job/promotion? Sell your understanding of what the company needs and how your skills, experience and enthusiasm meets those needs.
  • Starting a business? Sell the many benefits that your products/services provide and how they solve a problem for your target customers.
  • Supporting a charity? Sell the story of how it got started, whom it helps and why the work being done matters.

So, how do you improve your sales game? Study people who excel at the very things you want to do. Plain and simple.

Now that we’ve reached the end, did you notice anything? Most of these investments are high value, low cost and even fun. By doing small and uncomfortable things on a daily basis, putting yourself out there and daring to be seen, you’ll find out what you’re really capable of. How awesome is that?

Anna Gordon Author
Anna Gordon is a Career Strategist and Mindset Coach on a mission to help people lead, laugh and level up in their careers and lives. Most days, you can find her in her office drinking coffee and scribbling down ideas for the greater good.
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Anna Gordon Author
Anna Gordon is a Career Strategist and Mindset Coach on a mission to help people lead, laugh and level up in their careers and lives. Most days, you can find her in her office drinking coffee and scribbling down ideas for the greater good.
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