Speaking to dozens of job seekers every day for the past two decades, I have noticed that a vast number of people are not terribly happy with their work. There are different degrees of unhappiness, ranging from basic disappointment to downright depression. Sometimes, they feel a new job will imbue them with the happiness they desire. Others believe that getting away from a bad situation would automatically improve their lives.
The common denominator is that they lack a plan. It’s easier to hope for change than have to sit down, contemplate, ask yourself hard questions and write a game plan to improve your life. A plan is not enough either. You need to develop habits to implement the plan and become successful. I have seen successful people who have adopted certain habits that have helped them achieve their aspirations. I’d like to share them with you.
If you feel unfulfilled, lacking purpose, passed over for promotion, stuck in the same old job or not receiving raises, then this will help you. Here’s how to build habits that will improve your perception within your company and be viewed as a rising star and candidate for advancement or gain the confidence and courage to pursue a new job.
- Decide what you want to do with your professional life. Instead of sleepwalking through the motions, give thought to where you are and the direction you want to go in your career. Map out a plan that will enable you to achieve this goal. Then, start taking baby steps—one at a time. Each and every day, work on this goal. Just like you shower, shave and brush your teeth everyday, spend time analyzing where you are in your journey toward a better future and take a step toward actually achieving it. Some days, the steps will feel like a run, others a jog and a wobbly stumble other times. It’s okay, as long as you have the daily habit to move forward.
- Take care of yourself. You are a finely-tuned machine. Nurture and fuel this machine everyday. Eat right, exercise, read, meet new people and learn something new. You will get smarter, more confident and have the mental, emotional and physical strength to help you succeed. You will need this when times get tough—and things will always get tough. If you are mentally, emotionally and physically strong, then you will have the ability to power through the obstacles.
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- Try listening to people when they talk to you. It’s easy to become complacent and smug in your own thoughts and beliefs. It is important to open yourself to new ideas and suggestions. By being receptive to co-workers, managers and others, it will help you learn and grow instead of stagnating. If you remain closed off, people will get frustrated and tired of dealing with you. You will also be perceived as stubborn, unyielding, resistant to change, obstinate in your opinions and unyielding. Clearly, these traits are not highly desirable by management and are an anathema to career growth. Think of this; what’s the harm in being polite? Listen to people and consider their views and thoughts.
- Always be open to new ideas. Similar to listening, remain open to new ideas, as they may unlock the keys to your success. You never know who will give you some amazing insights that will propel your career forward. There is no need to have all the answers. There are so many bright people out there that could always offer something new and useful.
- Don’t hate the haters and become a hater yourself. Life is way too short to spend it hating on others. Unfortunately, there will always be a large supply of people at work that are happy to see you fail. Some will go as far as attempting to sabotage your career. People will engage in nefarious types of corporate politics and duplicity. It can be easy to fall into playing this game and try to exact revenge against others. Avoid this temptation and focus on your daily habits. It’s useless to expend precious time trying to fight wars with co-workers, you’ll just drag yourself down in the mud with them.
- Seek out mentors and peer groups to network with. You don’t have to do everything on your own. There are many smart and experienced people that would love to share their knowledge with a protégé. Seek out these folks as mentors who can share their accumulated knowledge and wisdom with you. These good-natured people take pleasure in imparting their knowledge with others. Then, down the road, pay it forward. If someone comes to you for advice, let them become your protégé. Also, try to seek out peers to network with and learn from. It is mentally, emotionally and spiritually helpful to surround yourself by like-minded people intent on improving themselves and growing their careers.
- Keep your word. If you say something, remember to follow through and deliver. When you promise to get a project done by a certain time, make sure it is accomplished sooner than the projected date. A good rule of thumb is to under-promise and over-deliver. Exceed expectations and come in under budget. You want to be the person whom everyone can rely on to be trusted.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. It is tempting to look at someone you went to high school or college with who is now a huge success and then compare yourself to that person. It’s a bad habit and trap to fall into. It will make you feel bad about yourself and crush your self esteem. Instead, be happy for their success and focus your energies on how you will build your own path.
- Remember to share the credit. If you constantly steal the credit and hog the spotlight, nobody will want to work with you. Alternatively, when you share and spread around the success, everyone will want to partner with you.
- Remain positive with everyone. Most people trudge along acting surly, angry and ticked-off. These unhappy folks don’t even try to hide their negative feelings. Some people are actually proud to complain aloud about how overworked, unhappy, mistreated and aggravated they are. You need to do the exact opposite. It’s so simple; smile and be nice with everyone you come in contact with. Extend a compliment, offer a pat on the back and recognize a co-worker’s contribution. This doesn’t cost anything and these small little interactions will make the you the person that others want to be around.