Many of us were raised to think about a job as nothing more than a way to make money. We don’t often think of a job as a way to grow personally and professionally, but every job gives us that opportunity.
Even the worst job you’ve ever had taught you something valuable!
Going to work is like going to the gym. There is always a new exercise to try and new muscles to grow.
You can have more fun at work, be more successful at your job and grow your confidence by using every working day and every task as a means to get stronger.
Here are 10 ways to do it!
- Plan ahead. Every night before you go home from work or during a quiet moment at home, make a list of your priorities for the following day. If you don’t think about your plan until you arrive at work, you’re already behind the curve!
- Create a priority map. Get out a sheet of plain bond paper and draw your major initiatives and projects on it, depicting each one as a shape on the page. Look for connections and intersections between and among them. Make your highest-priority project a bigger shape than your little projects. Now, organize them. How will you sub-divide your limited time and energy to accomplish the most important projects and as many of the lower-priority items as you can?
- Get a journal. You can journal at work (or at home, but about your work) as easily and effectively as you journal about your life! Working out your ideas on paper is a wonderful way to see opportunities, pitfalls and challenges for you to surmount.
- Learn to say “I wish I could help, but I can’t.” Practice setting boundaries at work. No one will respect boundaries that you don’t erect. You will get mad at your boss and co-workers for dumping too much work on you, but how can we blame them? You are the one who has to say “Enough!” if anyone will.
- Think about the future. One of the biggest problems people run into at work is that they are so focused on the issues right in front of their noses that they ignore the long-term view. They think “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it!” The most successful people are folks who are always looking six months, one year and several years out.
- Ask for advice. Work can be a competitive place. It can feel hard to ask your colleagues for advice on your work, but it’s a good idea to do so! It builds trust when you let your guard down enough to ask “How would you handle this situation if you were me?” When you ask for advice, you increase the likelihood that your co-workers will turn to you for counsel, also.
- Respect your to-do list, but don’t make it your sole focus. Circumstances can change in an instant and your priorities could be massively disrupted by a single phone call or email message. Your to-do list is a handy tool but it mustn’t rule your work life. Re-evaluate your activities often — several times a day — to make sure you’re doing the most important thing at every moment.
- Sync up with your boss. Too many working people assume that their manager is well aware of their activities, but it isn’t true. Once a month or more often if possible, sit down with your manager and go through your priorities and projects. Tell them what you’re thinking and where you’re stuck. It isn’t needy to bring your manager into your planning process. It will help your relationship and show your manager how on top of things you are — and keep you from wasting energy working on things no one cares about anymore!
- Take breaks. We think we are most effective when we get the most work done but that is not always true. Working without breaks or slamming through your to-do list is a great way to get sick and make mistakes. Take a break! Close your eyes and listen to an entire song through your headphones. If you’d get in trouble for doing that at work, you are working in the wrong place.
- Acknowledge yourself. Your annual performance review cannot be the only time you give yourself credit for your hard work. You can do it every day! When you master a new skill, celebrate. When you solve a thorny problem, ditto. When you find your voice and speak up about a topic that needed airtime, pat yourself on the back.
Your job can grow all your muscles and make you fitter, stronger and more resilient, but only if you work with intention. We all have the opportunity to get altitude on our jobs and careers — you can begin right now!