10 tips to driving your own career

People ask me all the time what advice I have on how to really move their careers forward.

Here are my top 10 tips to accelerating your career.

  1. Ask the dumb questions. If you don’t ask they will assume you know and chances are someone else in the room has the same question. Do your own research on all the wikis, but be willing to ask the dumb question. It is how you learn.
  2. Sit AT the table. Ladies, I’m especially looking at you. It drives me crazy in meetings when people purposefully sit in the back chairs so they can multitask and not have to really participate in the conversation. Multitask all you want, but show up to the meeting. Sit at the table, sit in the middle, sit by the most senior person in the room, and be a part of the conversation.
  3. Listen. No, like really listen. Don’t get defensive and try to prove yourself right. Be genuinely open and curious to the feedback you are receiving. Then do what they suggest. It’s almost always in your best interest.
  4. Save good business examples. Business writing is a skill you have to learn through trial and error. Save a copy of every presentation you think is good even if it’s not directly related to your job. Having a stockpile of good examples helps lower the learning curve.
  5. Create your own work/life balance. Work will take as much as you are willing to give. I’ve never had a manager tell me I needed to stay later or work more hours. So, don’t tell yourself the same thing. Work while you are at work, don’t overcommit to projects, and make sure to maintain a life outside of work. You’re not impressing anyone by sending emails late at night.
  6. Leave work at work. Stress and worry about all the things while you are in the office, but when you go home leave it all at work. My house has a huge tree out front of it and I would visualize putting all my work stress into a bag and throwing it into the tree each night. Then in the morning I would pick it up again and go back to the stress. It’s cheese, but it totally helped me to stop constantly spinning on all my work projects at home.
  7. Focus on the data and not the drama. There’s math and then there’s everything else. Making a mistake does not mean you are an idiot (drama), it just means you learned something (data). Having an ambiguous project does not mean it has to be hard and confusing (drama), it just means you get to create your own project plan (data). Focus on staying with the data and not making everything so dramatic.
  8. Own your own career. Your manager will change. Your company will re-org. It’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. Keep track of your key deliverables and the data that supports them. Keep networking a priority. Find or create your ideal job. Be very aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Be clear on what you want to get out of your work experience and go after it. Don’t wait around for the right time and the right thing. Own it.
  9. Fail fast and fail often. If you are new, focus on delivering something as quickly as possible, even if it’s hard to do. The faster you’re willing the fail, the more you will learn and the quicker you will succeed. It’s so much easier to explain why you missed a goal that you tried 10 different ways to achieve then missing a goal you tried 1 really well thought out way to achieve.
  10. Have fun. Be the fun. Get to know the people around you as humans and show up as one as well. Share the funny memes, host Wine Wednesdays, buy a giant gong and ring it loud each time the team has a win, give people a random word and challenge them to use it in their next meeting. Whatever it is, find a way to have fun every day in the office.

What’s your tip? Email me and let me know what you would tell someone to better own their career. 

You got this. 

LB

Doing this one thing for 2 minutes will lower your anxiety

No one feels great all of the time. But you don’t have to let the bad days take over and turn into bad weeks and bad jobs.

There are always so many days were it just feels so overwhelming. There’s too much to do, nothing is going according to plan, and you are worried about what’s going to backfire because things are falling through the cracks.

I’ve been there.  

Feeling that constant hum of anxiety is the worst. It’s why so many of us dread Sunday nights. It’s why getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge.

We all try to deal with the stress and anxiety by eating junk food, drinking, taking a day off or even just pretending everything is fine.

But everything is not fine.

There’s a better way to deal with the stress, but it’s going to feel a bit counter intuitive so stay with me.

Instead of trying to push away the stress and frustration with alcohol, social media, and donuts, try actually feeling the stress and anxiety.

Get out of your head and into your body.

What are they physical symptoms you have when you feel anxious? Where do you feel it?  What does it feel like? Does it move? Does it come and go? What color is it? Does it change your body temperature?

We are wired to believe feeling these negative emotions is bad so we try to do everything we can to avoid them.  But trying to avoid them just makes them worse and more intense.

Stop pretending they are not there or like your only options are numbing out and just be willing to feel it. I promise you it’s so much better than you think.

The more you are willing to feel stressed and actually know when you are literally feeling stress and when it’s actually anxiety, the less intense it’s going to become.

Remember that feelings are just chemicals in your body caused by your thoughts so the more you feel them, the faster your body literally breaks them down and processes them out of your system.

Here’s what it looked like for me this week.

We had a Sev 2 escalation and I was on point to drive the communications company wide including to a few L11’s. Additionally, the message I needed to communicate was not only bad news that impacted their work, but we were not able to solve it for them. They had to resolve the problem on their own with a 3rd party.

I was stressed out. I did not want to screw this up, but also had a tight timeline and multiple other projects being dropped due to the escalation. So on the status call, I just sat there and felt the stress.

It felt like a pit in my stomach and tightness in my chest. It made me hot and antsy. It was green and orange and was like a slimy sludge that moved around my chest making it tight. I started to breath deeper and had a hard time focusing. It came and went, but after about 3 minutes of noticing how else it felt, it passed.

I still had to write the communication, but now when it came time to talk about it, I asked better questions, confidently outlined the plan, and delivered multiple messages that exceeded the teams expectations.

So, the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, try turning into it and literally feel it in your body and it will go away.

You got this.

P.S. Want help applying this? Let’s jump on the phone and figure it out together. Grab time on my calendar here.

Don’t do this if you already know exactly how to reach your goals

It’s that time of year where companies are putting together their business plans for the following year. They review the past year, talk about growth opportunities to support new ideas and layout our priorities of the work to do to reach next years goals.

 

Creating a solid business plant that you can deliver on takes a lot of work. You look at all the data from the past year showing your strengths and growth opportunities. You forecast growth for the coming year and detail a strategy on how you are going to hit the growth goals. At the end, you have a unified plan detailing goals, resources, and priorities for the coming year.

 

It’s a great exercise because it creates a clear expectation on what you are prioritizing, what your goals are, and what resources you will have to get there.

 

It’s also hard because it is so much work and there are always more requests for resources than you can accomidate in the end.

 

Have you ever thought about applying this same concept to your own goals and ambitions?

 

If you are like me, I’ve always got a goal I’m working towards, but my plan to get there is a little fuzzy. This year, I’m writing a business plan for myself. I’m looking at this past year and getting honest about what worked, what did not, what milestones I need to hit to reach my goals, what obstacles I need solutions to, what resources I have available, and what success looks like.

 

Going through this exercise for myself has helped me better level set how I’m spending my time. It’s made me realize how many resources I have available to me that I’m not taking advantage of. It’s made me realize how quick I am to deprioritize things for myself when they get “hard” or are “not fun.” It’s also made me realize how much I really do want to hit my goals and that I can have a plan to get there.

 

So, what do you want to have accomplished a year from now? How are you prioritizing your time to get there? What resources do you have available and how are you going to track things along the way to know if you are going to get there?

 

Write a business plan for yourself and work just as hard at it as you will your work business plan. Seeing what you are personally able to accomplish is a year is what it’s all about.

 

You got this!

LB

 

P.S. What help applying this to your specific situation? Let’s jump on the phone and come up with a plan together. Grab time on my calendar here.