As you plan for your long-term financial goals, it’s smart to know your net worth – the value of your assets minus your liabilities. Keeping this important number in your sights can help you set goals designed to increase the value of your assets each year while also working to minimize your liabilities. However, did you know there’s more to your net worth than things like increasing your 401(k) and paying off your student loans?
Another important piece of the puzzle that will greatly impact your net worth over time is your career growth. When you have a mindset to take advantage of opportunities, develop multiple areas of expertise, make valuable connections in your industry, and maintain relationships with colleagues, you’re “leveling up” your earning potential. These are the things that will earn you promotions, salary increases, and new levels of responsibility. In addition, there are several less obvious career habits that can positively impact your net worth.
1. Never Stop Learning
There is never a downside to focusing on your education, both in a formal higher education setting or in a less traditional way. Earning a master’s degree or a Ph.D. will almost always help you advance your career, but if you don’t want to invest that level of time and money, all is not lost. Consider options like signing up for online courses covering industry-specific topics, or seminars that develop your leadership skills or emotional intelligence. Check in with your supervisor or the HR department to learn whether there are internal continuing education programs available, or begin studying on your own for a designation exam that would improve your expertise and make you more marketable.
When you show a continued commitment to your education – and look for ways to showcase what you’re learning through your current role – it’s a strong signal to your employer that you’re on the “learn and grow” track. This signal can set you up for new opportunities in your current role, while also helping you continue to build the resume and background that you’ll need to move into your dream job when the time is right.
2. Read Something Every Day
When you’re busy with the demands of work and life, it’s easy to become a “skimmer.” You may read an industry headline or take note of a new trend in the types of posts your colleagues are sharing on LinkedIn, but you never stop and truly read any of it. Of course, the amount of media we’re exposed to each day can be overwhelming, so it’s impossible to read everything. Focus on spending twenty minutes each day reading a few pages of a book or an article from a trade publication. It may not seem like much, but this small addition to your daily routine can increase your value in the workplace immensely. Over time, you’ll find yourself digesting important information that will end up changing and improving the way you work – all with just a simple commitment to slowly improve your knowledge base every day.
3. Don’t Wait for Opportunities – Create Them
Sometimes, even when you’re operating with a career growth mindset, you can begin to feel stuck in your current role. You may not see an obvious way forward in your company, or even in your industry, which is frustrating. If you find yourself in this situation, think about how you might create mini opportunities for yourself. This can include things like asking to cross-train with a colleague whose expertise is adjacent to yours. Many employers value the expanded skill set and it increases your worth in the workplace. Volunteering to sit on a new internal committee is another way to position yourself for available opportunities. If nothing seems feasible inside your current company, look outward into the community. Does a local organization need new advisory board members? Is an area high school looking for career mentors? All of these options can help you to get “unstuck” in the moment, while also offering value to your career – and your net worth – over the long term.
4. Always Be Prepared
Whether you have to wait for an annual review each year, or you have more frequent conversations with your supervisor about your career path, it pays to know the things that could impact your job success and earning potential and to have in mind what it is you want moving forward. Here are a few examples:
● The skills you have that are most valued by your employer
● Where your opportunities for growth and improvement are
● The types of responsibilities and experiences you want more of
● Which non-salary benefits would be game-changers for you (e.g. on-site daycare, better health insurance coverage, access to industry conferences)
When you keep these things at the front of your mind, you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your big conversations and set yourself up for growth and continued success. When you know what you want and need to move forward in your career, it’s easier to ask for it when you get the chance.
Human Capital and Your Net Worth
When it comes to your financial plan and growing your net worth, never forget the value that you bring to the table simply by maintaining a growth mindset for your career. Create career habits like those suggested above to increase your human capital and remember that even the smallest of steps will add up to an important impact over time – both professionally and financially.