The idea of continuous improvement should always be at the forefront of your thoughts, plans, and actions regarding a career. Job types or industries do not matter. Someone can be an assembly line worker, or an executive. What everyone shares in common is the need to continuously improve. Failure to do so will only cause career stagnation and a lack of fulfillment.
When I went back to school in 2009, I learned much about the Deming Cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act), and how it was applied to manufacturing practices in the period after World War II. Although the principle is based on greater efficiencies, improvement, and quality for the manufacturing process, it should be applied to a career. Think of it as a personal continuous improvement plan for you. How do you want your career to play out? How do you want to grow? Continuously monitor, check, and act accordingly to learning and growing.
Continuous improvement is essential for all employees, regardless of position or rank within an organization. Never be satisfied with the status quo. Simply because you achieved a lofty rank does not imply the journey is complete. Work to be better. What is popular and trendy at the moment, may not be so in the near future. Preferred skillsets shift and change seemingly on a daily basis. For those who attain a goal or learn a new skill, take a moment to reflect on your growth, but never stop there. Never be satisfied with your current knowledge and experience. You achieved a goal, but seek to learn and grow more.
Build up your skills through schooling and training, and seek opportunities in your career to expand into new areas. Talk to management, or find a career coach. Read often. Experiment with different approaches and mindsets, and check and act on the results. Always stay abreast with evolving trends. Someone may be the preeminent expert in one job, but if they fail to grow and learn new things, their expertise may no longer relevant.
Look in the mirror on a frequent basis. Take stock of your skills and experience. Are you heading in a direction you desire, or are moving with the current to a direction you may not be happy with? Do you see trends out there that are emerging? Be honest, and evaluate yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and gain some new experiences. Identify weaknesses and take steps to address them.
Always maintain a healthy work-life balance, and be proud of the results of your career. But never be satisfied. Apply the concept of continuous improvements to your career, and head down a path of discovery and fulfillment.