We’re women professionals, which by definition immerses us into a particularly challenging workplace setting. After answering to our bosses, managing the people who report to us, navigating dizzying schedules, and battling workplace politics, it’s a mystery how we ever find the opportunity to actually work on the projects we were hired to do.
While striving to advance, we struggle to make progress, often hexed by the lack of ability to manage and execute efficiently. Furthermore, we are sometimes so smothered by our workplace roles that, when we do make huge accomplishments, we haven’t the chance to tell our bosses about it.
To survive, it becomes mandatory to be self-motivated, disciplined and focused. And if all this isn’t enough, there’s a critical forth element to this equation…an element that even the most determined among us can lose sight of, but one that can be the game changer if we embrace it. It’s called maintaining career perspective.
Look Back to Get Ahead
The momentum of the daily workload tends to draw our attention to our productivity list. But if you’re like me, no matter how vigilantly disciplined, by the end of the day that list never seems to get depleted. My reaction used to be “I never get enough done”. Two steps forward always seemed to equate to three steps back. In response, I began documenting my week in review….a weekly summary of career-related highlights superimposed over an emotional pulse reading. The satisfying result is my delight in realizing the enormity of my accomplishments each week. What stared me down as daunting on Monday translates to “did it” by Saturday, complete with a well-deserved fist pump. Thanks to this shift of energy, my confidence in my own abilities is abundant, and my ambitious workload has become less burdening and more rewarding.
A Beacon of Might
The week in review allows us to see where we’ve been and what we’ve endured, leaving us with a sense of progress. Just as important is to assess where we’re heading. This exercise is a personal commitment, and must be done perpetually. It serves to keep our eye on the prize in a career setting that attempts to lure us off course with distractions. This weekly look also organically prepares us for crucial ongoing discussions with our higher-ups.
Women of the past tended to keep their heads down, do hard work, and expect others to notice. We now realize that our careers are ours to promote. Not only should we be sharing with the boss what we’ve been achieving, but we should be asking about the “big picture”, and how we can best contribute to it. Your boss probably has a bigger picture perspective, and if asked, hopefully can help hone your focus. And remember: Just because you work hard doesn’t mean it is optimally effective. Long-term vision and ongoing alignment of goals will only yield results if we realize their importance, and carve out the time for them.
A Reason to Celebrate
After spending two years in my success toolbox, my “week in review” and my sense of direction are now proven valuable exercises. My new challenge is to take it a step farther by allowing acknowledgement. For instance, when someone else achieved a goal in quite the same way as I had, I’d find myself in awe of them. But when reviewing my own similar accomplishment, I’d tend to diminish my success because, after all, “it’s only me”. An admired colleague that I had invited to speak on a panel about business development shared a wise trade secret that day, related to this very challenge. She proudly admitted that she refuses to get hung up when she fails to secure a new client, but when she succeeds, she celebrates! This was a tremendous revelation that should inspire us all to get comfortable with celebrating our successes….sometimes it will be a symbolic nod of approval; other times it calls for popping the bubbly!
Give Yourself a Break
A professional woman’s work is never done. When we find ourselves in the thick of career combat (meeting people and deadlines, always striving to get one more thing done), our bodies gear up for a prolonged battle. We feel that if we just work through a weekend, we will get ahead. Well friends, one weekend can easily turn into every weekend (and I’m proof of it). The best thing I’ve done all year is to commit to taking Sundays off. For some, it takes real effort to become comfortable with relaxing. But to unplug for one day a week and not think about your job can have priceless productivity-related benefits. For me, it’s the urge to leap out of bed on Monday mornings and jump back into the game, no alarm clock necessary. Finding this balance has been the key to a physically and emotionally healthier life and career.
A Brand-New Outlook
What might seem insurmountable at the beginning of a given week, with focus, can be tamed by week’s end. When we remind ourselves of this, we gain our momentum in strides, lending ourselves balance and better confidence in the process. Anxieties can melt away, and energy can shift from “I won’t be able to do this” to “I’m going to nail it this week!” It’s your turn to shine. Get out there and nail it!