Tired of all the career advice and feeling a bit overwhelmed? Here’s my best advice of what will help your career the most.

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A group of students I was mentoring asked me the following question: “If you could give us only one tip that you believe is the most important thing we should do in our careers, what’s your answer?”

If you have decades of experience under your belt, think about that question for a minute and try distilling everything you’ve learned over the years into only one tip. It’s not easy. Attempt it and you’ll see what I mean.

This is what I told them: Every year, choose one topic — and then do everything you can to become an expert in it.

That’s so simple it almost sounds crazy, right? It isn’t.

I gave that tip because I wanted the students to continue to pursue knowledge throughout their lives. Even after obtaining a college degree, learning shouldn’t be over. I wanted them to remember that it’s important to never stop learning or asking questions. Ever.

You can easily implement this tip. Here’s how:

Think about the next job you’d like to have. What are some of the key skills you’ll need to be successful? Choose a skill you don’t yet have or that you’d like to learn more about as your area of focus for the next year.

Not sure? Brainstorm with a friend. Write down a list of important business skills that could help you during your career. Here are some hints: project management, process improvement, conflict management, change management and people leadership.

Lisa Quast, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs
Lisa Quast, columnist for The Seattle Times Jobs

Read books. Find the highest-rated books on your topic. You can purchase them yourself, check them out from a library or even share the cost with a friend who would also like to read the books.

Attend seminars. Find seminars being held in the Seattle area. A lot of seminars are scheduled for weekends and evenings so those working full-time can attend.

Take an online class. Almost every college and university now has classes available online. Find classes being offered on your topics.

Consider certificate programs. Many colleges and universities also have certificate programs on various topics, such as project management. These programs can provide great ways to gain knowledge in a structured format.

Check into your company’s development programs and tuition reimbursement. Many organizations offer training to employees in a variety of topic areas. See if you can attend some of these sessions or if your manager has a budget for employee training.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.