Ever wonder what it takes to be better at what you do? Or, how you do it? There’s really no magic to being more skilled; you can take steps now to become a better leader, a more effective manager, a more productive director.

What will it take for you to improve? It’s likely that you don’t have all the time you’d like to work with a coach, attend a course or earn a certificate, or even read that professional/personal development book. Good news, you don’t have to change all that much to make some improvements starting today.

Open your notebook, that’s step one. Next, make a list of the 3 things you think of when you consider the improvement you’d like to make. Whether it’s something you know you need to do, or something in the way, just write it down. There is SO much value to seeing what you tell yourself.

(If you want, send me a picture of what you wrote – choose the Contact option from the menu above – and I’ll reply with some ideas next week…)

If you’re a bit stuck (yeah, we wrote the book on that over here), I’ll get you going with 3-steps to advance your career in just a few months:

1. Observe and analyze action and behavior

Watch the people around you. The ones who are successful, the ones who lose deals, the ones who seem to have time to get to their most important things. Open your notebook and take notes. Observe your boss, your superiors, your leaders.

What are they doing to achieve the results (positive OR negative) they’re experiencing? Are they smarter? More disciplined? More productive? Can they prioritize between what’s important and what’s not?

As you collect your insights, put a + or a – next to each description of action or behavior you observe. Just noticing what you want to do MORE or LESS of puts you in a position to do just that.

2. Start hanging around the right people

Right people…wrong people… you get to decide. My question to you as you read this is simple:

How can you change to be better if you’re not hangin’ out with people changing to be better themselves? Of course it’s incumbent on you to decide what “Better” even means, what it would look like to you if you were better, and who around you demonstrates those behaviors. It’s what that first step is critical to your professional and personal improvement.

Your family, friends, neighbors, mentors, bosses, colleagues, the authors of books you read and even videos you watch all influence how you think, what you think about and where you imagine you could be within a year – or more – with your career. This is the reason codifying, building and curating your network is so important. You’ve got to work overtime to make sure that they know where you’re heading and what you want so that they can help you along the way.

You’ve got to know your #KnownFor. That is, “What do you want to be known for?” Once you clarify the goals you have set and the hopes you’re working toward, start spending more time with people who are in a position to help. And, work overtime as you build new relationships – in life, and at work.

Be the best version of yourself and introduce yourself to them.

3. Learn from career development experts

Don’t know someone who can help you develop those skills you’re looking for? Turn to the experts. Pick your topic, and choose an online or unperson training program you are willing to start. Whether is a credential/certificate course you can take, a book you can read or a self-study coaching program you start, find the information you need to take the necessary next steps.

One of the fastest ways I know of? Reading. Find a teacher/expert out there and buy, download, borrow their book. Whether your company supports you buying books (for yourself and your team) or you stop at the local library this weekend to request they acquire the book you want to read, you can hold all the information you need right there in your hand.

You may learn from your experience doing things by yourself; and, as you read books, you learn from the experience of those who’ve spent time, money and a LOT of resources learning this stuff.

Check out this list of the best career development books and pick one book and you might find yourself in a better position a few months from now.