Today, check out eight career lessons grounded in positivity that have helped me be more productive, more successful, and stay just a little more sane.
Career Lessons #1: Be nice, and get a lot more done.
I strongly dislike the phrase, “You are too nice.” In my experience, nice is good, nice is welcomed and nice is productive! Even if you love what you do for a living, work is stressful. No one is paying you to just have fun ALL the time. So why not maintain a positive attitude, play nice with others (even people you don’t exactly want to bestie-up with), and get more done?
One thing I have found from always striving to maintain my cool and smile at work, even when others are getting a little edgy with me, is that I just get more done. Plain and simple. People are more likely to help me, to answer my questions, and to put my requests before those of others. Plus, the workday is just a lot more pleasant with a smile on your face, and around people who are not afraid you’re going to bite their noses off for every little thing. No one likes a crabster at work, even the crabsters themselves!
And no, being nice doesn’t mean being a push-over. It just means putting a little extra effort into understanding the stresses of others in different roles, being receptive to questions and to mistakes (you make ‘em too!), and always being willing to talk through any issues to ultimately accomplish your goals.
Career Lessons #2: Find intrinsic motivation.
You can’t always wait for accolades, compliments, smiling faces, and lots of dough to motivate you to do a good job. Besides, these things are not part of the everyday. On most days, you just have to look inside yourself to stay motivated and produce good quality work.
One thing that has always worked for me is that regardless of outside stressors (outside of myself), I refuse to put my name on bad work if I can help it. So when the goin’ gets tough, I motivate myself with the thought of producing high quality work, not because someone is going to come by and start clapping for me or hand me a wad of cash, but just because that’s the way I roll. It makes me feel good and it gives me purpose. Plus, it is something I can control.
Career Lessons #3: Be helpful.
Please never, ever say to someone, “That is not my job.” Say it to yourself, with your inside voice if you like, but never utter those words. Job descriptions are never going to be 100 percent comprehensive, and hey, stuff comes up, so relax, roll up your sleeves, and always be willing to help. Besides just being good Samaritan-like to do so, this also helps your co-workers and managers build trust in you. And when you need a little hand, others will be more likely to be there and give you what you need.
Career Lessons #4: Be a rock star problem solver.
I don’t care what anyone says. Whether you have five years of experience, 10 or 25, no one knows everything, especially in a world where things are constantly changing and evolving. Don’t worry so much about having all of the answers, and just practice being a rock star problem solver.
Don’t have the answer to that email right now? Not really sure how to attack that huge project your boss just emailed to you? Heck, maybe you don’t even know what she/he is talking about. That’s OK. Kindly express that you’re not sure, and say you will do a little digging and provide an update soon. Then, go. Research, ask, and think. You’re a smart cookie. You’ll figure it out.
Made a mistake? That’s OK too. Focus on rectifying it instead of drowning in self-pity and making excuses. I have noticed time and time again that everyone understands we make mistakes, but no one likes a terminal attitude. Unless you are conducting surgery, there is usually a way to make a situation better, fix a mistake and find a better way. Take a minute to feel bad, and then get to fixin’!
Career Lessons #5: Find a good balance between salary and passion.
Unfortunately, passion alone doesn’t pay the bills, and salary alone doesn’t buy happiness or feed your soul. When thinking about what career to go into or change over to, or what job to take, try and find a good balance between passion and salary. Don’ take a salary you can’t live on to do something you love, and don’t take a job you hate just because it pays a lot.
Take me for example. I am a writer to the very depths of my little heart. It’s what I have loved to do since I was a kid. It is what drives me, excites me and fulfills me. So I chose a career in marketing which allows me to write but doesn’t leave me livin’ the starving artist life. For a girl who already comes from poverty, that is just not cute ya’ll. This way, I make a good living at something I enjoy, and still get to do what I absolutely LOVE most days. Sometimes, when I’m stressed about money, I think I should have been a pharmacist or a lawyer, and make more money, but then where would my HAPPY be? It’s not worth it. Just find a balance.
Career Lessons #6: Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Don’t do something wrong just because you’re afraid to ask questions. Again, none of us know everything. Plus, we all have different ways of learning and absorbing information. I know it can be hard especially if you tend to be a little shy like me (hard to believe, right?!), but suck it up, and ask. When the job gets done the right way the first time, everyone will be glad you did.
Career Lessons #7: Show a little personality.
Take some time to scope out your surroundings, and the personalities of your managers and co-workers, but don’t be so afraid to show a little personality. We spend a lot of our lives at work, so why spend it putting up a front? Save your energy for the actual work, please. Of course, you always have to gauge what is appropriate and what isn’t in your particular professional environment, but don’t think you have to be such a robot all the time. I’m fairly certain companies realize you’re human. It’s OK to tell a tasteful joke, add a little professional flare to your attire, and just be you. And if your environment doesn’t allow you to be even a shadow of your actual self, I’d venture to say you are in the wrong profession or the wrong company. Just a little bite for thought.
Career Lessons #8: Fake it ’till you make it.
Finally, always remember to fake it ‘till you make it baby! It’s taken me a while to really see myself outside of the career-less world I come from. Throughout this learning process, I’ve really had to muster the confidence, self-motivation and strength to believe that I belong here in this corporate world just like any other, more privileged individual. I’ve had to constantly remind myself that the education I was fortunate enough to receive and work my booty off for means I will never be stuck in the bonds of what could have very easily been. So no matter what your particular obstacles are, believe in yourself, push through the doubt, and make it happen!
And remember, a little positivity always goes a long, long way.
Sonia, Word Share Junkie