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One of the best decisions a young professional can make is to be come the CEO of their cubicle. This can mean the difference between striving and thriving in your career.

When I began my career as an executive assistant with children’s television network Nickelodeon, I hated my small cubicle. Here I was working for one of the most creative companies on the planet, yet I felt trapped. That was until I realized that the cubicle wasn’t my enemy. It was my perception of the cubicle.

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The good news is that we have a choice of who we want to be in our cubicle. We can be:

The Employee: That person who feels like they’re in a Russian prison. That person that just does their work. That person who complains. And that person who passively waits for instructions and collects a check every couple of weeks.

Or we can be:

The “CEO”: That person who treats their cubicle like mission control. That person who proactively seeks out opportunities to contribute. That person who delivers more than expected. That employee who is always ready to learn.

I decided to place my bet on being “The CEO.” Within a matter of weeks I noticed a marked shift in myself as did others. I wasn’t just coming to work, I was coming in to run a company. What I viewed as my company. No matter how trivial my responsibilities seemed, I took my work and myself seriously. I made the decision to live and work intentionally, not by accident. In short, I had purpose.

In the process of shifting into CEO mode, I created the following departments for myself:

R & D: On a regular basis, I requested and suggested special assignments for myself. Further, I volunteered for projects that no one else wanted to do (How to have a ‘Walk-On Mentality’). Lastly, I reached out to colleagues in other departments to learn more about their work so I could better do mine.

Finance/Forecasting: I set goals for myself. Goals have always made all the difference for me and they can for you as well. The main thing is that these have to be actionable. Goals that have metrics so you know that you achieved them at the end of the week, month, quarter of year.

Public Relations: I made sure people knew my name and what I was up to. This was easily accomplished through informational meetings and coffee & cocktails. The key here is listening more than talking. This greatly expanded my network and influence.

Sales & Marketing: It took time, but eventually I was able to clearly articulate my career goals and personal brand when the opportunity presented itself. Further, I was able to back this up with content I created to support this (See R & D above). You should always be able answer the questions: What do you do?; Who do you do it for?; and Why do you do it?

Education: I read industry trade journals, blogs and attended industry events. Further, I invested in myself by taking continuing education courses at local universities and by attending conferences and workshops. (Check out these great education resources: Skillshare and Khan Academy)

These are just a few of the “departments” I created and they made all the difference in my career. They allowed me to stand out in a competitive company and become known as a winner amongst colleagues.

When we become the CEO of our job, regardless of our title, it really means we’re becoming the CEO of our life.  We’re taking ownership and responsibility to create the change and opportunities we most want to see in our career.

How can you better show up as a CEO in your job? Share you story in our comments below.

Antonio Neves is a career coach, an award-winning broadcast journalist, and the founder of THINQACTION, an organization dedicated to young professionals.