It’s fun to be a superstar. You get a lot of accolades. But the real benefit to being a workplace superstar is that you have more control over your life. A superstar gets flextime. A superstar gets to take a five-month sabbatical and have their job held for them. Superstars are so top-flight that they’d be very hard to replace. Average performers don’t get those benefits. Aim to be a superstar so that you can have more options in your career for creating a life you want.
1. Have gaps in your resume
You want to be known as a good thinker, right? But good thinkers need time to think, and that’s what gaps in resumes are for. Sure, for the unemployable, the gaps are times of financial terror and emotional doom. But if you feel confident that you can get another job, then taking time off to think, get perspective, try something totally new — all these things actually make you more employable.
If you’re in the middle of a gap in your resume right now, and you think it might be the not-so-good kind of gap, and might make you unemployable, then start doing something exciting and rejuvenating with your time while you are job hunting. Then the gap will look intentional and exciting.
It’s all about spin, really, so take time to think and then hire a resume writer to help you turn your resume into the kind that tells the story of a great thinker.
2. Cut corners at work to make time for the gym
Most people who don’t get regular exercise say that job interferes with their exercise time. This is absurd reasoning, because people who don’t exercise do worse at work than people who do.
People who exercise perform better at work than people who don’t exercise. People who exercise think more clearly and are more even-tempered. And the self-discipline that it takes to exercise regularly spills over into other areas of life, making people who exercise more able to reach work goals than people who don’t exercise.
So cut corners at work to make time to exercise. Your work performance will go down a bit at first. But on balance, your performance will go up once you start reaping the benefits of exercise throughout your life.
3. Start a side business
One of the best ways to stand out in your career is to make sure you always have a lot of options. A great way to create options is to build your skill set so that you’re adaptable within your field and on the cutting edge of your specialty.
But there always comes a time when the opportunities all look bad. When that happens, you should know you can start something of your own. Entrepreneurship used to be starting a company in your garage and growing it to be big and take over the world. And most people failed, because not many people can take over the world.
But today, entrepreneurship is often about microbusinesses you can do at home, while you have a day job. And success is about creating a work life that accommodates your personal needs. Success is also about keeping your learning curve high, no matter how much money you make.
For all these reasons, starting a business while you work in a cube at someone else’s business is a smart way to go. It ensures that you’re never stuck. And it’s not actually that hard to do.
4. Turn down promotions
The raise you get when you get a promotion is absurd. It’s usually less than 10% of your salary, and it’s not going to change your life. Surely you can find something to ask for that is more meaningful than that.
Also, when a company offers a promotion, the company says, Here is the next step in our ladder, and we’d like you to climb it. But why would you follow a path laid out for you by someone else? You should customize you career according to your workplace strengths and your personal needs, Laying out a path for yourself is difficult, but necessary. You need to understand yourself, and then you can tell your boss what you really need. Think about mentoring, training, getting on a really interesting project, or asking for flexible hours. These are things that will make a long-term difference in your career.
Not convinced? The process of giving someone a promotion is usually watching them succeed in one type of work and then giving that person new responsibilities that they do not necessarily have talent for. And that is why a promotion is more stressful than a divorce. So ask for other rewards instead. Really.
5. Start a blog
Superstars distinguish themselves from everyone else by being known for their ideas. This doesn’t mean they sit in a room and think all day. Execution matters. But you need both. That’s why a blog is so great for putting you at the top of your field.
A good blog presents your opinions on a wide range of issues within your chosen specialty. If you can post regularly you show not only that you have the self-discipline to produce, but you can make a plan and execute it over time, and, most of all, you show everyone the way that you think about issues in your field.
One of the most exciting things about specializing is taking part in a high-level discussion about cutting edge topics. Someone needs to lead that discussion, and increasingly, it is the bloggers who are doing that.
So, here are some easy instructions for starting a blog.
As with many things in life, it’s harder to make the mental commitment to seeing yourself as a superstar than it is to take the steps to get there. The core of being a superstar is not about what you do in your work, it’s what you do in your head: Believe in yourself and your ability to stand out for your ideas and then focus on being that person in whatever you do.