You Don’t Have To Remain As You Are
New Year’s brings new resolutions, ideas, and concepts for both our personal and professional lives. Personally, there is always weight to lose, smoking to stop, better foods to eat, exercise programs to begin, cut Internet browsing by 33%, and, of course, spend more time with the family.
But professionally, resolutions don’t spring to mind so quickly. We want to do better professionally, but what can we promise ourselves we will do to accomplish that goal?
Here are 7 simple things you can do to better yourself professionally. (I said, “simple” not “easy.”)
Get results every day
Your supervisor is probably going to be results oriented, so you might want to be thinking along the same lines. You probably have a “to do” list on your desk somewhere. Make it a point at the end of your day to match your “to do” list with those things you have actually accomplished. Grade yourself. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Were you able to produce meaningful results? When you do this you will see if you were successful or not, and if not, why not?
Daydreaming is part of life. It is almost impossible to stop, but consistently being distracted is something that can be reduced, if not stopped. When you have a task, regardless of the size, take a look at the clock and compute in your head where you want to be in this task in 30, 40, or 60 minutes from now. If you can complete it in 45 minutes then start to mentally focus on that goal. This small 45-minute “burst” will keep you on task because you continually have something to measure your progress. When you complete the task, reward yourself with a walk to the break room, or a fresh cup of coffee. (And don’t get the coffee before you are done!)
Learn to say “No”
If you want to be productive and complete your tasks, you will have to learn how to politely say, “No.” Keep in mind, every time you say, “Yes” to someone else, you say, “No” to you. As you continue to say, “yes” things keep piling up on your “to do” list and you are not completing the things you already had to do. And, yes, you can say “No” to your boss – as long as you can justify your answer. If you have a really good reason and you can verbalize it to her then there is a chance she will give the work to someone else OR give you a later completion date that you can make. Saying “No” isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it is the responsible thing to do if in fact you cannot accomplish the work asked of you.
Learn how to do it
My guess is that most of us do not know how to use our typical computer programs to their fullest extent – and that’s okay, but we should know how to use them well enough so we don’t have to ask the IT department to come fix our machine when it locks up. Let’s learn how to do things for ourselves. Yes, it will take some time to learn how to reset or adjust some things, but in the end we will be able to work on our own and not lose time when a simple error locks up our machine.
This is just an example of some of the normal everyday things we can learn about to make us more proficient. Next time a copier jams, or a computer program “locks up,” or the phone doesn’t transfer correctly, learn how to make it work for you. Try to be the employee who is self-sufficient rather than dependent.
Make time to be quiet
It doesn’t happen every day, but many times we find ourselves wrapped around a pretty tight axel and our blood pressure is getting higher by the minute. Work is simply frustrating sometimes. During days like this (and some of you are thinking, “this is everyday for me”) try to get someplace quiet for a few minutes. Ten minutes in a quiet environment can make all the difference in the world. If you have to go out to your car and sit quietly, then go for it. Try to find someplace where you can’t hear any conversations, T.V. music, or phones ringing and just think about something non-work related…anything but what you are steeped in at this moment. Compose your thoughts before you go back into the fray and see what a difference it makes.
Read three good books in 6 months
When you stop learning – you are done. Being educated in the professional field you have chosen is paramount. Take the time to read someone else’s thoughts on your profession. You don’t have to agree with everything you read, but you should know the concepts and ideas that are out there. I say three books in six months to get you started. If reading a book in two months is difficult, then try one in three months. Consistency is all the rage these days.
Don’t spout problems without a solution
Everyone has problems. You have them, your supervisor has them and your manager has them. Before you bring your problem to your supervisor, think to yourself, “How can we solve this?” Then you can go to your boss with both your problem and a possible solution. Remember, we want to be results oriented. Try to be part of the solution rather than just the problem. You will be so much more appreciated and you will be on your way to moving up the corporate ladder simply because of your proactive thought process.
There are several more professional “resolutions” you can make at this time of the year, but these may help you get started. Trying to do seven is nothing short of herculean if you are serious about all of them. The person who sets out with a list of 20 resolutions is sailing toward the rocks of defeat in a pretty quick wooden boat. It may be in your best interest to select 3-5 of the ones mentioned above (or think of your own) and be diligent toward them. Nobody says you have to be absolutely successful with all of these by the end of January, but a continual and consistent approach will reap huge rewards by summer. Remember folks: your career is not a sprint. It’s a long steady jog.