The fireworks have faded and for most of us, this is the first official week back at work. Are you wrestling with career goals for the year ahead, looking for new and fresh ways of thinking about advancement? 

Why not try this two-part orientation exercise? 

  1. Determine the highest-level version of what you do. For instance, if you currently describe yourself as a graphic designer, perhaps the highest-level incarnation of that career path might be something like ‘brand specialist, consulting to major organisations.’ Or if you are an entry-level journalist for a community newspaper, the pinnacle of your trade might be ‘Features writer for National Geographic,’ or even ‘Senior Correspondent on CNN.’ Gain a clear picture of what the top of your industry looks like. 
  2. Start a list. Tack it up in your office or keep it on your smartphone, because this will be a list that you will continue to add to all year, recording your thoughts as you go. The list will contain all your observations on what the differences are between an entry-level amateur, and the highest level practitioner in your field.

This, of course, implies that you will spend the year studying those differences and dissecting what the governing principles may be. What do top icons in your field do differently? What equipment do they have? What experience and qualifications inform their excellence? Are there principles that they appear to be using or resources upon which they draw? What do they do that you currently don’t? This year, resolve to collect insights and populate your list of observations so that they differences will no longer be a mystery to you.

I’m personally excited about the fresh year ahead. My new book on business innovation, ‘They’re Your Rules, Break Them!’ launches this month, and my new son launches shortly thereafter (if my wife will permit the term). I hope that 2017 will bring you prosperity, and that these tips will continue to assist in shortening your learning curve as your strive to ‘own’ your industry. 


Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker and business author. He presents internationally on expert positioning and disruptive innovation through strategic rule-breaking. See him in action, or sign up for his free motivational newsletter, at