Now, take a look at your work area. Do you still have the beer mug you won in a chugging contest sitting on your desk -- along with your calendar of "Hottest Fire Fighters Ever?"
The reason I ask is because people often wonder why they're not getting ahead at work. They work hard, but don't seem to get chosen for the key projects. Or, they feel like the boss overlooks them when it comes time for promotions or new opportunities.
Sometimes, I think the reason is because these people are giving off the wrong signals. If you dress, act and look like you're still 21, then that's how others will see you. A kid. A lightweight. A novice. Someone who still has lots to learn and needs to still be reminded not to run with scissors.
You've probably heard the advice to dress for the job you want. But I think you also have to step up your game in other areas. Here are some ways you may be telling others you're still not ready for bigger opportunities:
1. You play beat the clock. You're watching the minutes tick by, texting your friends to confirm where everyone is meeting for happy hour. As soon as it's time, you nearly run to the door, backpack banging against your back in your haste. Your boss watches you go, wondering if you completed your work for the day, or plan to try and tackle it at home -- after happy hour. Perhaps this is why your manager doesn't consider you for projects that will require some self-direction and a more disciplined work approach.
2. You weasel out of meetings. No one likes meetings. No. One. While I don't think anyone needs to be in unnecessary meetings, I do think that some people are so intent on avoiding them that they miss real opportunities. You need to make the commitment to be involved in meetings where key decision-makers are attending. You need to make sure that when the top performers are pitching ideas, you're in those meetings to offer support or additional ideas. You need to be in the meetings where money is being discussed -- how to make it, save it or find new resources. These are the kinds of meetings that show your commitment to your boss, your company and your colleagues -- critical components if you want to get ahead.
3. You don't make hard decisions. We all knew those people in high school who waved off any discussions that might force them to make a decision. "Whatever you guys decide is fine with me," was a common response. "I'm easy." That doesn't work when you're a grown-up with a job. You're forced to make tough decisions every day, and failure to do so it the kind of behavior that hurts your career. The more you educate yourself about your company and your industry, the better prepared you will be to make decisions in your job that will let you be seen as a thoughtful professional.