Even if you are content with your lot at work, there's no guarantee you can hang on to your meal ticket in the turbulent corporate world of downsizing, takeovers, relocations and bankruptcies.
And if you don't want to stay in your current position forever, you have to be pro-active in gaining an edge over your colleagues and in some cases, your bosses too!
Here are some ways you can forge ahead in your career marathon:
Evaluate your current capabilities against the requirements and developments in the industry/market you are in. Increase your value to your company by learning new skills and keeping current with technological advancements.
Take the initiative to do what needs to be done, before being asked. If you are confident you can cope, set new goals for yourself and ask for new or more challenging assignments.
Believe in yourself
Don't expect to be promoted without demonstrating your abilities over time. If you want to make headway, you mustn't be adverse to taking risks and stretching yourself. Take the entrepreneurial approach and go for the position offering the biggest challenges.
Consider the big picture
Analyse your company's goals and priorities. Stay in touch with industry trends and look at what other opportunities are available in the market, especially if you are involved in fast-changing sectors like information technology, sales and marketing.
With the advent of globalisation, an increasing number of companies are setting up operations overseas. Be willing to relocate if the conditions are right.
Develop networking opportunities
Get to know people of all ranks and roles within your company. Do not stop there. Be active in social committees, task forces, trade/professional organisations, societies or your community. This will not only help you increase your visibility and contacts, but will also put you in a position to learn more about your industry.
It's important not only to widen your contacts, but to make time for your family and friends, and to offer them support whenever possible. You never know - these efforts may be reciprocated at the most pertinent of times, and create invaluable business or career opportunities for yourself.
Build a professional image
Dress for success. People in the creative and entertainment industries, for instance, often gain fame (or notoriety) by developing their own strong sense of style.
Pick up fashion tips on how best to assemble a wardrobe that works for you. By projecting a businesslike image, you can impress others as someone with executive potential, or with leadership qualities.
Adopt a professional approach at work, be it in relationships with colleagues and business associates, or handling problems and attending to internal and external customers.
Being aware of behavioural styles and personality types when dealing with people can also help you develop winning partnerships.
Don't get stale, keep on moving!
If you have been stuck in a specific job or company for far too long, you have several options: move laterally for a change of scene or to pick up new skills; work towards getting a promotion in your department or look for another job outside the company.