Our society is deeply attached to doing. Everywhere we look, we’re told we need to improve, and that can take its toll. We can start to focus so much on reaching goals and taking action steps that we lose sight of how wonderful we already are – that the potential we are striving for is already within us, just waiting to be allowed to come out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the doing involved in setting goals and making action plans, try these simple tips to access the potential that is already a part of you
1. Own your (im)perfection.
Right now you are where you are supposed to be. You are who you are meant to be in this moment. That’s not to say you can’t reach greater heights or that you shouldn’t attempt to. But it allows you to cut yourself some slack and appreciate how far you’ve already come.
2. Consciously choose potential.
The only real way to make a change in your life is to do so in a focused, conscious way. You need to commit to a change and act upon it with delight.
3. Focus on growth.
Don’t fall into the self-improvement trap that in essence tells you that you aren’t good enough (see tip #1). Instead of hating where you are, focus on growing your excellence. This switch in mindset makes all the difference to your happiness and the ability to reach your goals.
4. Do set goals.
Trusting you are good enough doesn’t need to preclude you from desiring more growth towards your innate potential. It does allow you to do so in a more balanced way. Set attainable goals for yourself that make you feel inspired rather than defeated.
5. Chose one goal to work towards.
Once you have a set of goals, chose one to work on first. Attempting to change too much at once often leads to achieving nothing because there’s no focus.
6. Use short–term goals.
While it’s great to have long-term goals you want to achieve, don’t overlook the benefits of short-term goals, too. If you focus only on where you want to be in 10 years, it’s going to be hard to keep up the constant effort. Instead, set short-term goals that eventually lead to the achievement of the long-term one. Use these benchmarks to celebrate your success and acknowledge that you are making headway.
Are you waiting for the perfect time to launch your grand plan? We don’t like to wait in line, but we’re more than content to wait for some other things. Diets are commonly started on a Monday, or the first of the month, or the first of the year. It’s rare that someone chooses to start a diet right this very minute.
The same mindset applies to starting a business, going back to school, learning to play guitar, writing a book, having a difficult conversation, or making a change in your career. We believe that challenging objectives require optimal conditions.
But all that’s really required is the courage to get started. Waiting is often an excuse when we feel fearful or uncertain.
The idea that perfect conditions are necessary is flawed:
1. Life is much too short. Eventually, we all run out of time. No one can wait forever. That doesn’t mean to be impulsive and throw all caution to the wind. It does mean, however, that it would benefit you to act soon.
2. Life will always get in the way. Waiting for the right moment is like saving the money you have left over at the end of the month. You’ll never have any time to spare, just as you’ll never have any money left over.
* Make time for the important things you want to do or accomplish. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to get started.
3. Waiting is passive. Each day is filled with unique moments. It’s not necessary to wait until the perfect storm of opportunity, convenience, and motivation finally occurs. You can create special moments whenever you choose. Plenty of good moments are happening each day, but you’re failing to make the most of them.
4. You don’t learn anything while you’re waiting. You’re not enhancing your skills or gaining any experience when you’re inactive. Make the most of right now and you’ll be better prepared for the future.
5. Avoid regret. Do you really have the time to spare? Those that wait too long are filled with regret at the end of life. Do you want to look back on your life and think, “If only I would have …”
* Few things are worse than regret, especially when you’re no longer in the position to do anything about it. You might still be able to climb a mountain or learn to play the piano at the age of 80, but it might be easier when you’re 45. You’ll also have more time to enjoy it!
6. Taking action results in a more exciting and fulfilled life. Taking action and failing is better than doing nothing at all. Even in failure, you’re learning, taking risks, and living life to the fullest. You’re better prepared for the future and gain a new perspective.
* Make your life interesting and fulfilling by deciding that right now is a good enough time to get started.
7. Waiting results in a lack of control. While you’re passively waiting for the perfect situation to occur, you’re giving away control of your life. One common symptom among those with depression is the belief that they lack control over their lives. Why wait? Take action now to create the life you want and take back your control.
Valuing yourself will result in valuing your time. When you value your time, you’ll begin to make the most of it. Every moment is important because you’re important. Avoid waiting any longer for the perfect moment to finally arrive. Get started today and create your own moments.
Great Questions is a series of crowd-sourced job seeker, career changer questions from around the interwebs that are questions you may have thought of, encountered in your career or pondered how to approach.
This question was originally posted and answered on Quora, the a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Its publisher, Quora, Inc., is based in Mountain View, California.
Have you ever questioned if you had an obligation to share information with your employer that seemed questionable?
The author of this response gives an extremely valid point: your company won’t tell you everything about their plans for growth, development, continuation, your salary – it’s all based on now. Certainly, there are exceptions that would debate, but they are certainly more outliers for more people than not. I’m thinking here specifically about: employment contracts, if you are a highly-compensated corporate executive involved in strategic planning, etc.
So, the next time you find yourself struggling with whether or not your thoughts and plans are warranted to share, consider these guidelines to navigate whether the subject is one that you should broach at all:
- Are you talking about a time period for which the employer has committed/guaranteed employment to you in writing?
- Are you considering a written in stone-reality, a likelihood or a more theoretical plan?
- If the information you are considering doesn’t come to be, what does that outcome mean for you?
- If you shared this information once it becomes reality, are you providing standard professional courtesy?
- Is there a legal reason you need to share this information?
Have you ever looked at your workspace and felt overwhelmed? Does it feel easier to walk away from it than fix it? Facing a messy desk can be draining.
People fall trap to the Einstein theory, “a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” hiding behind a false truth that a clean workspace indicates a lack of creativity or intelligence.
It’s important to note that an organized workspace is not necessarily the same as an empty desk.
True too, there is research from scientists from the University of Minnesota who found “that you can get really valuable outcomes from being in a messy setting.” Specifically, you can gain leaps in outcomes in supporting creativity.
Unfortunately, most people, while they might really need to harness and encourage creativity situationally, are probably striving for productivity.
Tidiness as Princeton University researcher Professor Sabine Kastner found is key to clear thinking and being productive.
“Visual clutter competes with our brain’s ability to pay attention and tires out our cognitive functions over time.”
Tiring cognitive process means your brain gets tired. Tired brains think slower. Slower thinking produces slower, less effective work.
Being tidy and clean also supports generally good behaviors and supports people to do good things: Not engage in crime, not litter, and show more generosity.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve got an office job or if you work from home, keeping an organized desk and workspace is very important in order to work efficiently. It’s not always easy to pay attention to cleaning and organization when you’re worried about important deadlines, which is why your space can quickly turn into a mess.
And, in light of some of the debate on clean desk vs messy desk – it’s important to realize this is real
So in the course of the next week or so, find and block out time on your calendar to concentrate on your workspace. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re able to find everything you need quickly and efficiently!
Consider some of the following cleaning tips for your workspace:
1. File away your paperwork. Paperwork can get out of hand fast. Spend some time sorting through your paperwork. File important papers away, and shred any personal documents that you won’t need anymore.
* Put all loose paperwork into a filing system and keep folders for any paperwork that you’re currently working on. As new papers come in, try to deal with them right away, instead of leaving them on your desk for later.
2. Clean your work surfaces.
Since you’ll be able to finally see the bottom of your desk, you need to take advantage of the opportunity to clean the surfaces underneath the old clutter. Also take time to clean all of your desk items such as staplers, pens, and paper trays.
3. Make your business contacts digital.
Start a list of all your business contacts somewhere on your computer, such as your address book in your email. Keep track of their business name, photos, phone number, mailing address, and email addresses. This way you can toss out their old business cards that may be piling up on your desk.
4. Deal with old reminder notes.
If you have post-it notes all around the office, sift through them and throw out the ones that no longer apply. Reorganize them by priority, or make digital files to keep track of them. Post-its can get disorganized fast, so if you have something on a post-it that’s a long-term project, it’s better to keep your notes on your computer.
5. Deal with digital clutter.
Yep, this is a real thing. Cleaning your workspace doesn’t apply only to your physical workspace. Is anything cluttering up your computer’s hard drive? Go through your e-mail inbox and delete those you don’t need or file them away.
* Clean up your computer desktop and delete old files or back them up to an external drive. Take the time to properly back up your files often, so you never lose important work.
6. Organize your supplies.
Gather your work supplies into one area of your desk. Keep them in that space or a specific drawer. This will give them a permanent place so they’re not left out and scattered around your desk at all times.
7. Clean the areas around the room.
Vacuum the room around your desk and wash the windows, baseboards, and more. It’s probably not an area that you often think about, which is why it’s likely due for a cleaning.
8. Make a future cleaning schedule.
If spring cleaning for your workspace was a burden on you, it probably means that you let things get out of hand this year. You can prevent it from happening again by doing periodic cleaning of your workspace.
* Once you have an organizational system in place, you can spend maybe 30 minutes per week keeping everything clean and organized.
Then there are the ‘softer’ benefits of a clean, organized workspace – like a clean office environment is more inviting to you, your clients, and anyone you work with.
So, the next time you find yourself embroiled in the battle of the cluttered versus the organized desk, don’t fall into the trap. Remember, there are times that clutter might be helpful. But, if your focus is to get stuff done, getting organized is what will get you moving forward.
Whatever your career path, you’ll probably run into a few occasions when you’re faced with a decision that could dramatically change your future. With so much at stake, you want to do all that you can to be prepared. Maybe you’re torn between two attractive job offers, or asking yourself if a promotion is really worth uprooting your family to go live in an another state.
Figure out what’s important to you and take actions that will bring you closer to your goals. Try these suggestions that will build up your confidence for making big career decisions.
Start collecting information and feedback now even if you’re not facing any major dilemmas in your work life. You’ll be glad that you got a head start before your decision making skills are put to a real test.
1. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and aspirations will help you to understand yourself. You’ll see how your priorities change over time and spot recurring patterns.
2. Take an inventory. Identify your strengths and the areas where you want to grow. Focus on what you like to do and what you’re good at.
3. Ask friends and family. Your loved ones can often provide valuable input. Maybe they’ll notice talents that you take for granted.
4. Consult experts. Reach out to your college career center to see what services they offer for alumni. Ensure your network includes colleagues who can assist you with the next stage in your career path. If you hire a career coach, check references and credentials, and ask for a short-term contract so you can test your compatibility.
5. Browse online tools. Thanks to the internet, you’re no longer limited to making a list of pros and cons on the back of a napkin. You’ll find lots of free decision-making tools and templates online to help structure the process.
Find Your Balance
Remember that there’s often no single correct answer, and you can use any choice as an opportunity to learn and grow. At the same time, understanding tradeoffs will help you to address your practical and emotional needs, and maximize the returns on your efforts.
1. What’s really important to you. Once you have enough funds to cover your basic expenses, nonfinancial factors may be more important to your happiness. Does the opportunity excite you and align with your values?
2. Breathe and make some space. Reconsider your conclusions after a good night’s sleep or a long walk. You may change your mind or confirm your first reaction.
3. Embrace the unknown. Remember that any move involves some risk. Focus on the issues you can control and make peace with the rest.
4. Build & Explore Possibilities. Examine various options before making up your mind. Then, come up with a short list to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
5. Look ahead. Visualize where you could be in 5 or 10 years if you make a certain decision. Ask yourself if this is really what you want for your career.
6. Test, Test, Test. If possible, find a way to test your decision before you make a final commitment. Maybe you can take a single course at night before you quit your job to go back to school full time.
7. Have a Plan B. Give yourself something to fall back on. Either you’ll succeed the first time or you’ll be in a stronger position to try again.
Sound decisions lead to smart career moves. Gathering information and deliberating carefully will help you to achieve work-life balance and find the job satisfaction you’re looking for.
As a recruiter, I’m an expert in a profession that supports two of the most dreaded activities in employment: job hunting and recruiting.
Many, if not most, hiring managers have some level of dread surrounding the hiring process. Generally, it’s just simply the feeling of overwhelm.
And, candidates are well documented to really dread, resent and hate the job hunting process. There are a litany of valid reasons. Spending precious time on a really personal and important life goal and need (career fulfillment and making money to live) that sadly can feel dismissive, intrusive and offensive. Good times, right?
I get it – from both the hiring manager and candidate side. These emotions are actually some of my biggest drivers and then parts of my career that cause me sleeplessness. As an empathetic person, I’ve often been a part of systems and events that have unintentionally someone with a few of those feelings.
There are a ton of high-value ways that employers can take control in this scearnio – whether its a job seeker or employer’s hiring market.
All too often, though candidates don’t know there are a number of really super-simple things that you can do to take back some power, gain confidence and be in a better position to make better job search decisions. Really, simple things.
1) Create your ‘business’ card.
This can be a physical card; but at the very least you should have a digital ‘card’ that
- you have as a stand-alone contact on your phone that you can zap to people right away
- you add to the end of all your personal emails
- you add to your resume
- you add to your social profiles
To create your business card, first you’ll need to gather all the content to add to you. Physical address is optional, I would suggest maybe just your City and State as the only real necessities here. You’re not throwing a party; you’re just creating relevance – I live in the physcial market of the job in question. But, you do need to go around and gather all the URL’s of your social profiles that are relevant to your career.
The trickiest of these profiles is often your LinkedIn profile, which you can find here:
Once you have your business card information gathered, consider:
- a small (you can get going for less than $25) investment in physical cards, which can never harm the impression you make, and give them out when you meet new connections
- creating your About.Me landing page and using that as your digital landing page
- sharing your digital card from your phone, with a professional address entry that you can text on the fly whenever anyway asks for your contact info
2) Speaking of Social Profiles. Know Thyself…
There is no such thing as you can’t find this profile; I’ve got it locked down. Just trust me on this one, ok?
So, as you create social profiles, just be aware. Be aware that there is this thing called the Way Back Machine that finds really old content. Be aware that what you post, even if it is on ‘fun’ network like Snapchat, can and just might reflect on you. Be aware that what your friends post about you can, too.
So, understand how to lock down your profiles, restrict people tagging you in photos that you don’t want shown. And, also, make a decision about the what you’re ok with your employer learning about you. If you’re offended that an employer might make a decision on your desirability as a candidate after find something about you partying hard in a bar (even if it was a Bar Crawl for a completely respectable charitable cause), you need to understand that employers actually do that.
This begs a completely unresolved question of ethics and employment law – that you and I are not going to resolve personally.
However, here are the choices you own in this process: decide to broaden your hire-ability by cleaning up and locking down your social profiles OR decide that you don’t want to work in an environment that cares if you take part in a charitable pub crawl or something that you choose to participate in as an adult in your free time.
Case in point: I’ve made this decision for myself over time on another topic – children. Years ago I was given the advice to *never* discuss that I wanted or (eventually would) have children because it would limit my career. After I was given this advice, I heard a male leader once discussion how he didn’t want to work with someone who was always balancing being a Mommy with work. So, it happens – clearly bias (and a whole different topic for an entirely different post), but it was real. I opted to not go the exhausting route of hiding my motherhood.
So, make your choice.
3) Lockdown your LinkedIn Profile
For years, one of the red flags of an employer was the alert of an employer suddenly freshening their LinkedIn profile, adding connections (hmm, why so many recruiters?), and adding recommendations to their profiles.
Now, as a recruiting and career coach professional, I would chastise that these are things that should be done overtime anyway. Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t necessarily be a grave yard until you need it. (For that case, nor should your resume).
But, chances are you’re reading this because you need to understand how to revamp your LinkedIn profile now. So, before you do any updates there are three things that you should do on the ‘back-end’ of your profile.
4) Job Searches Aren’t Events
You’ve heard this a bizillion times before, but its true. Keep your network current. Have a professional group you can belong to? Join it and attend. Or, branch out and consider bigger networking opportunities, like Toastmasters, or a Meetup Group.
5) Coffee, E-Prime Your Resume & Keep It Current (Just Because)
Coffee? Not literally, but a metaphor. Imagine that you’re grabbing a cup of coffee with your mentor and want to talk about your career – where its been and how it’s prepared you to move on. It’s a conversation, right? No therefore, hereto’s or untold’s are involved. You’re using comfortable, digestable language. Well take your resume and read it, as if you were reading it over coffee with this trusted person. If it’s hard to read; edit it. If the grammar is stilted or too technical; edit it. If the grammar is wrong; edit it. Reading text out loud actually helps the brain edit easier; so, you’ll catch more by actually putting your text to spoken word.
Alright e-priming is maybe not ‘super simple’ (don’t sue me), but it is super achievable. And, a rarely applied approach that will create a subtle differentiation to your resume. So, if you’ve not heard of e-prime, it is an area of linguistics that suggests dropping ‘to be’ and derivatives from our lexicon. Essentially, you will remove anything like:
- is; isn’t
- are; aren’t
- was; wasn’t
- were; weren’t
- Contractions formed from a pronoun and a form of to be:
- you’re; we’re; they’re
- he’s; she’s; it’s
- there’s; here’s
- where’s; how’s; what’s; who’s
And finally, keep your resume current. Are you noticing a theme? Yes, if you want to be confident at any point in your career (and trust me if you’ve lived through a layoff, even as a ‘survivor’, you do); then working through all of this as a routine is essential to positioning yourself as the leader of your career.j
Interestingly, you internal social capital to your current company is likely to improve, too.
So, now that you have five really easy ways to start owning your job search; what’s the next step your looking to take in your career?
If you’re in the market for a new position, you can take a look at my current search projects, and bookmark to stay up-to-date.