Thursday, May 29, 2014
Probably the last thing you want to do on your summer vacation is think about work. And yet it intrudes into your thoughts, whether you want it to or not. You wonder how many email messages are piling up; how the boss will receive the report you left; and whether you're still in the running for that promotion.
OK, you’re going to think about work whether you want to or not. So why not channel that mindset into something productive? Like taking a mental step back and really considering where your career is at, and where you want it to be.
Consider, for example, whether you’re happy. Not happy just sitting there drinking that margarita, but happy at work. How do you feel about your job? Is it something you look forward to, something you endure or something you truly hate?
These and other questions are not easily answered when you’re running a meeting, rushing to meet a customer’s order or doing reports at home. These are questions best answered when you can sit back, relax, and let your mind and heart work together.
For example, maybe you’ve been thinking about quitting your job, but haven’t really considered the reasons behind it. Look back over the last year. Has something changed that has made you feel unhappy at work? Maybe you’re required to travel more, or perhaps you’ve gotten a new boss that is giving you a hard time. Make a list and decide what must change in order for you to enjoy going to work, and then whether you’re willing to work for those changes in order to stay put.
Or, maybe you’ve been thinking about starting your own business. What do you see yourself doing? Who would be your customers? Do you have the financial and professional resources to make it a success? Can you receive moral support from family and friends?
At the same time, sketch out where you see the business in the future, what resources it would take to get it off the ground, and what failure would mean to you both personally and professionally.
And while you’re considering your career, look into your crystal ball and try and predict where your employer will be in the next year. Considering industry reports, the economy, and your own observations, do things seem solid? Many times those who have been laid off say they never saw it coming, until they reconsidered all the warning signs they ignored. Do you have a game plan in place if things begin to look rocky?
Also consider your time away from the job to think about how you feel -- deep inside -- about your work life. Are you committed to what you’re doing? Are you able to stay focused on your goals, or are you often distracted and depressed? If anger and resentment are present more often than not, maybe it’s time you were honest with yourself about your job. You may realize that your work is making you really unhappy, but you're afraid to give it up because you've grown accustomed to the lifestyle it can give you.
Maybe you can't come up with the answers to all these questions right now, but it's important to take the time to try. Often, we're so busy hacking through the forest that we forget to climb to the top of the trees from time to time to see where the heck we're going. Find some time while you're recharging your batteries to do just that.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Friday, May 2, 2014
I think there's a reason that Pharrell Williams hit, "Happy" appeals to so many people.
Simply put: It sucks to be sad.
We can't always avoid it, of course, and sometimes we need to let ourselves feel down in order to deal with a situation and then be able to move on.
But when you're stuck at work with someone whose main character trait seems to be "glum", then that bad vice can rub off on you, robbing you of the things you could be enjoying about your career.
So, here are some things to be on the lookout for so you don't let negativity get your down at work:
- Blue moods: If you find yourself feeling gloomy when you've been around a certain people, then you know you need to think about how they're affecting you, and why. Is there a way you can change that interaction -- possibly being around them less or finding something that will lighten your mood after dealing with them? Try taking a brief walk, repeating a favorite inspirational quote or just saying hello to the most cheerful person in the office. A friendly smile may be just what you need.
- Dissect your reaction: Why are you feeling negative after a certain interaction? Is the person rude or whiny? The old adage about you can't control other people's actions, but you can control your reaction to them is often very true. When the other person begins making rude comments, do you take it or say, "I can see you're upset about something, but I want to be spoken to with respect. Now, I'd like to focus on how we can get this project done on time." Or, if the person starts whining about other things, point out that you're on deadline and have to focus on the work. Leave once you've taken care of business.
- Trust your gut. If you see someone frowning, and the body language seems tense (hunched shoulders, crossed arms, unsmiling), then try to avoid dealing with the person until later. You could end up being a convenient punching bag for an issue that has nothing to do with you. If this person always seems in a bad mood, try to schedule an appointed time to speak, so that you don't catch them unaware -- which can often make a negative person even more so.
Of course,everyone has negative thoughts and there are going to be some days that just stink. But the more you can do to keep a good perspective, the more positive your work performance will be and that will always pay off in the long run.