Happy_and_successful@Work (part 1)

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This month as part of my Happiness Project, I’m focusing on improving my work life.

I have outlined 10 behaviors for workplace domination.  I am holding myself accountable by tracking specific actions against each of these in a daily journal. After 1 week, I already feel like I am upping my corporate game. As work is serious business, I’m going to go deep on each area and split this across 2 posts.

Here are my first 5 strategies for success at work:

1. Mentally and physically prepare. Who is kidding who here? I don’t bolt out of bed and dance around my bedroom in the morning overcome by the excitement of going to my corporate job each day. I have a high stress position and I’d rather be on a beach in the Bahamas or playing tennis in Palm Springs than going into the cubicle battlefield.  (and I totally get that vacations cost money)armor

Not to mention, some/many of the people I work with are not exactly in the running for Mr. or Ms. Congeniality.  I have to put on the full armor of God every day to be victorious in my workplace and be an ambassador for the Lord. I’ve developed a new morning routine that consists of 5 minutes of meditation, prayer, simple stretches and then listening to the Bible or an inspirational message on my drive into work. Also, I’m taking my vitamins and eating right. I can’t expect amazing output without amazing input. Garbage in, garbage out.

2. Dress for success. In the modern workplace, business casual has sunken to new lows. It is easy to fall into a trap of dressing for comfort instead of dressing like the future CEO.claire

I have a closet full of beautiful business clothes but have fallen into a rut of jeans, long wrap-around sweaters that could double as bathrobes and comfortable mom shoes. Just like I want to tell people who wear pajama pants to the grocery store I need to also tell myself, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!”

I am officially stepping it up with dresses, jackets, beautiful blouses, slacks and skirts. Important people look important. To add to my pulled together look I’m flat ironing my new fierce hairdo versus letting it run wild and curly. I’m also spending an extra few minutes improving my make-up techniques (Pinterest is great for age-appropriate tips and tricks).  Claire Underwood is not my character role model, but she is my new style icon. Note to self:  buy some bigger specs, go even blonder as summer approaches, lose 20 pounds.

3. At the beginning of each week, write down 3-5 strategic goalsThe most successful person I know does this.  prio

It is easy to have your schedule slip away from you with meetings, hallway randomizations and emails.  My theory is that I am not being paid to answer emails, I’m being paid to deliver business value.

I set goals that move my business forward each week and track progress against them daily. This helps me prioritize and connect dots while I’m in meetings or answering those pesky emails. I am not saying don’t answer them, I’m saying learn how to answer the right ones first.  Anything that furthers my strategic goals should be top of mind and top of the priority list.

4. Embrace my inner executive.  This is my version of fake it until you make it. It is important to show up as a confident, knowledgeable person with a clear and insightful point of view.  Again, the company is paying for my expertise and capability. I may not know everything, but I can show up daily as a valuable contributor who is learning and growing.  Some of the ways I demonstrate these qualities include:  speaking up in meetings, asking strategic questions, not being afraid to disagree or offer an opposing argument and showing that I have a bold and strategic vision for our work.  Boardroom

My workplace mantra: “I am in tune with what is going on in the industry and the marketplace. I have valuable experience that I share willingly and warmly.  I am in a senior role and I have not only earned a seat at the table, I own the table.” 

5. Manage up and out.  My boss and my skip-level boss are nowhere near me 99% of the time.  Yet these two people decide my fate at the company. They need to be my biggest fans and I am the only one who can equip them with the data (results) that compel them to join and stay in my fan club.

manage

To create raving fans, I need to know and understand what my bosses and other key stakeholders value and expect out of my role and then find ways to blow their expectations out of the water.

If you are not getting to where you think you should be in your career, maybe it is because you are focusing too much energy on clearing the bar and not enough on inventing a new one.  Meeting expectations is never enough.  I need to demonstrate how my contributions and results are better than my leaders could have done themselves.  I know as a boss, how wonderful it is to have an employee bring me a piece of work that is much better than I could have done and that requires no re-work.  I talk up and reward those who I can trust to deliver these types of results.

Once I’ve exceeded the target, I look for opportunities to market these accomplishments with my leadership and make it simple for them to market them on my behalf.  I have yet to meet a boss who doesn’t want to share amazing results up the food chain.  It makes them look good.  It is easy to focus on activity versus achievement, always prioritize that which drives a specific and exceptional outcome versus that which just takes up time.

Taking My Own Advice

WorryI haven’t posted in a few weeks.  I have been in a bit of a funk.

Nothing too serious, but there are times when my work life can take a toll on me.  I know better and am the first one to tell others to stop worrying.

Today, for the first time in a long time I felt like I had a small, public win at the office. I needed it and I can’t take any of the glory. God is so good.

What made the difference?  I read these four points below.  I wrote these to myself a few months ago when I was feeling very lost. Here was what I focused on today:

  1. God is a perfect father, who doesn’t compare me to his other children, he loves me.  HE loves ME.  He loves the imperfect me.  I don’t need to waste my time comparing myself to others and spending so much time on my flaws and “growth” areas.  God loves me in this moment and he’ll love me when I’ve improved and he’ll love me if I take steps back.  God loves me right now.  Right this minute, right this second.
  2. I can do nothing without God.  When I’m overwhelmed and stressed it is because I’ve forgotten that he is in charge and somehow I think I’m in control.  I’m not in control.  God is in control and I can trust in his plan.  The evil one distracts me into thinking I can control anything and everything.  I am his instrument but I give it over to him to be the controller.
  3. It is ok to ask the Father for favor.  I have been paralyzed by the belief that I must only serve others and God and that I should never expect favor for the seeds I sow.  I spend too much time thinking I don’t deserve favor because I am caught up measuring the way I worship.  Am I reading the Bible enough, getting on my knees or spending quality time in prayer enough to ask the Father for help? God is a loving and giving God.  He will expand his favor on what the evil one tries to take away 7 fold.
  4. God admires boldness.  I tend to take the humility/meek thing to heart and forget about being bold. I put on the breast plate of righteousness to go and do great work in the world.  God has given me the gift of leadership and I will not put it on the shelf because of fear of what others may say about me.  God never fails.

I will be bringing this out more regularly as a self-coaching technique.  I love to encourage and mentor others and there are times when I need to coach myself.

I’m sure many of you can relate to getting yourself out of a funk. What do you do when you need to build yourself up?  How do you overcome criticism?

Making Time — Simple fixes to gain 4 hours per week

amed4hoursPart of my strategy to get to just whelmed is to just live smarter already.

Being messy or disorganized  has probably never been as endearing, cute or loveable as I’ve managed to convince myself that it was.

I have been living a split personality by telling myself “this is who I am” and “don’t sweat the small stuff” only to do a 180 when I can’t find or remember something or I have to walk the entire parking structure to find my car.

In these situations, my frustration and self-loathing goes to DEFCON 4.  I have a very loud and persistent inner voice and when I’m suffering from a self-inflicted time suck due to disorganization or memory lapse it is screaming “you are a loser!” “your brain is turning to mush!” and “this is why you can’t have nice things.”

As I blog my way into living more intentionally, I’ve noticed some very cool side effects that qualify this post for the everything it’s cracked up to be daily challenge.  I have adopted some new and improved behaviors that give me back something critical on the journey to just whelmed – time.

Here are 9 strategies that I estimate are giving me back at least 4 hours per week and have the added benefit of making me feel good about myself by putting a muzzle on my inner critic.  Sure some of them take a little time to make the time, but the investment is insignificant compared to the payoff.

  1. Put keys away in the same place every time I use them.  Amount of time saved per week digging through my purse or combing through the house: 15 minutes.
  2. Fold and put away laundry as soon as I take it out of the dryer. Put like items away with like items.  Mate the socks.  This may seem like an obvious one and maybe most people already do this, but this has been a long time coming for me and I am still on a day by day (load by load) basis.  My husband suffers from the same affliction, so I know I’m not the only one who does (or doesn’t do) this.  Time saved per week hunting for missing items or digging through clean laundry: 30 minutes.
  3. Decide each night what I’ll wear to work the next day.  Time saved per week trying things on or standing there staring at my closet:  25 minutes, 5 minutes per work day.
  4. Put 7 day’s worth of pills and vitamins in the pill container every weekend.  Yes, I’m that old.  Time saved per week opening each bottle and shuffling through drawers:  21 minutes (3 per day).
  5. Keep the makeup I use every day in the same drawer within one drawer organizer.  Time saved per week pushing the “occasional” items aside to find my must-haves: 14 minutes, at least 2 minutes per day.
  6. Put my purse and my coat in the same spot each time I come into the house.  Gloves go inside the coat pockets.  Time saved not hunting for these items each week:  15 minutes.
  7. Write all of my passwords down in a central location.  Time saved typing in wrong passwords, racking my brain or waiting for the “forgot your password” cycle:  30 minutes per week.
  8. Park in/near the same spot every day at the office.   Use memory techniques to create a picture image of where I parked on those occasions I must park in unfamiliar territory.  For example when I park on level 3 in the blue zone facing the wall of windows of my building, I visualize 3 Blue Man Group members staring at me and my car through the windows.  When appropriate, I use my phone to take a picture of the parking spot number (like at the airport).  Time saved hunting for my car:  30 minutes per week.
  9. Save running a Saturday or Sunday errand and just buy it on Amazon if the price seems fair.  Time saved per week:  1 hour (at least).

What are your time-saving strategies?