Tag Archives: Work

Six things to do when you don’t know what to do.

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Sylwia Bartyzel via Unsplash

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:  You’re not happy in your current job but aren’t sure what else you’re qualified to do.  You’re not making enough money but you can’t afford to quit.  You want to do something meaningful but you haven’t found your “passion”.

Go back to school?  Start your own business??  Join the circus??? 

If you’ve become paralyzed by indecision, the best strategy may be to stop, take a breath, and come at the problem from a different direction.  Here are some ideas to get you moving:

Dive deep into a new subject.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  Pick something that interests you (work-related or not) and start learning everything you can about it.  Explore it from different perspectives and thru different mediums.  Follow footnotes and interesting asides.  See where it takes you.

Get an activity tracker and start walking.  Feeling aimless drains your energy and you may find yourself in a sedentary rut.  An activity tracker (I like the FitBit) will help you focus on getting up and out.  And walking will clear your mental fog and get you thinking big thoughts.

Declutter.  Our physical space and our mental space are deeply entwined.  Clearing our  material baggage has a magic way of clearing our psyche as well.  Purge ruthlessly and then examine what’s left.  It may hold clues to what really matters in your life.  (Marie Kondo’s book on the magic of tidying up explores this in depth.)

Keep a time log.  “I don’t have time.” is probably the biggest excuse we use for not moving forward.  But you probably have more than you think.  Track everything you do for a week and see where your time is really going.  Then evaluate what you can change to make time for something new.

Start a blog.  Pick something that interests you and start writing about it.  It doesn’t have to be ground breaking stuff, but commit to writing something on the regular.  Explore other blogs and start connecting with people online.  Be open to the process and again, see where it takes you.

Volunteer to work with someone from another country.  Volunteering is good experience in general, but working directly with someone from another culture – tutoring a non-native speaker, for example – is an excellent way to put your own life in perspective.

 

How about you?  Have you ever felt aimless?  How did you deal with it?

 

(This post contains affiliate links to Powell’s Books.)

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Five phrases that will make you a better manager.

5 phrases that will make you a better manager

Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash

1.  “No, your idea is better.”

2.  “What do you need from me?”

3.  “Let me make sure I understand…”

4.  “How can we reduce the number of steps in this process?”

5.  “Thank you.”

 

Four tips for having a better day.

lemon ginger water

Dominik Martin via Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I find it often takes hearing the same advice many, many (many?) times before it actually sticks.  But eventually, I internalize good ideas and am the better for it.  Here are a few oft-cited “make your day better” tips I’ve recently adopted:

Hydrate in the morning.  One reason we often feel tired and icky in the morning is because it has been several hours since our last drink of water.  We wake up mildly dehydrated and drinking coffee first thing just exacerbates the problem.  I enjoy reading about productive morning routines and this advice pops up frequently.  As does…

Don’t check email or social media first thing.  It sends you down a productivity rabbit hole and puts you in reactive mode for the whole day.  It’s better to tackle your most important, meaningful work before anything else.  Which ties into this next one nicely…

Utilize your peak energy.  For me, this is the first two hours of the day.  If I “ease in” to my day with Facebook and Bloglovin’, I miss that important energy window.  My energy drops dramatically in the afternoon and I rarely feel like doing focused or creative work.  And of course…

Pay attention to Benedict Cumberbatch.  Seriously, I just did not see the attraction for the longest time.  I was vaguely aware of him from the Sherlock series (and found Watson more interesting).  But now I get what everyone is talking about.  This interview with Fast Company is good and this episode of Graham Norton is better.  (Plus, you get Miranda Hart, who is just beyond hilarious.)

 

How about you?  Is there any good advice that you’ve been slow to adopt?

 

Management Quick Tip: “Watch for idiots on the road.”

No no. Thank you!  by Aaron Stidwell

Growing up and well into adulthood, whenever I left the house my dad invariably said:

Watch for idiots on the road.”

Not “Drive safe” or “Be careful“, but “Watch for idiots on the road.”  And as curmudgeonly and vaguely paranoid as it sounded, I always took it as a compliment.

It was his way of saying, “I know you’re smart and competent behind the wheel.  It’s everyone else I’m worried about.”  And I appreciated that.  My dad wasn’t an overly affectionate man, but he somehow always made me feel that he believed in me.

So the tip here is really twofold:

First, actually do watch for idiots on the road.  It’s sound driving advice.

And second, find a way to show your team that you believe in them.  It doesn’t have to be overt or gushy or something out of a management textbook.  Make it unique to you and your personality, and your team will appreciate it.

 

(Photo by Aaron Stidwell via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Ready to quit? I’m not here to stop you…but try these things first.

Boots by Phil Roeder

I’ve quit a lot of jobs.  And not just burger-flipper kind of jobs.  Real, career-level jobs.  With nothing lined up to take their place.  Do I recommend this as a career strategy?  Um…no.  But, my chronic dissatisfaction has taught me to tell the difference between real job issues and me just needing an overhaul, mentally and physically.  If you’re feeling burnt-out and uninspired in your job, try these before you throw in the towel:

Get some exercise.  Doing this is a constant battle for me, even though I know I will feel 10x better if I move my body regularly.  So I get that it’s extra hard when you’re unhappy in your job.  But you’ve just got to do it.  Exercise releases endorphins, which improves your mood.  It improves flexibility, something you’ll appreciate if your desk job is leaving you an aching, contorted mess.  And it gives you the energy and stamina to do other important things, like professional training, strategic volunteering or pounding the pavement for your next gig.

Find a hobby.  Find something outside of work that lights you up.  It doesn’t matter what it is, but you need something to look forward to at the end of the work day.  Having something to think (and talk) about besides your crappy job will make you happier and easier to be around.  And connecting with people who share your personal interests is a non-greasy way to network and can lead to unexpected professional opportunities.

Take stock.  When you’re feeling beat up, the temptation is to jump ship and hope for the best.  But the “anywhere but here” approach often sets you up to be just as unhappy in the next gig.  (Trust me, I know.)  Think hard about what it is that you really dislike about your current job.  It might not be what you first think.  And consider what parts of it you actually enjoy.  These are clues to where you might want to go next.  Then take an honest look at your skill set and decide if it fits a career trajectory you can be happy with over the next 5-10-20 years.  If it doesn’t, you have the starting point for crafting your next move.

 

(Photo by Phil Roeder via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

 

Ideas I Liked This Week.

More Gourds

Columbia Gorge

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  ~  F. Scott Fitzgerald


Being a stay-at-home parent is a luxury – for your spouse.

Parenting as a Gen Xer: We’re the first generation of parents in the age of iEverything.

Jogger pants can look professional.

This breakfast keeps me going for hours: Avocado and Egg Toast


Are we Twitter friends yet?  Find me @TheMgmtMaven

Your job is not about doing your tasks.

construction vehicles

We all know smart, hard-working people who have been individual contributors for years.  And we also all know smart, hard-working people who have quickly jumped from entry-level to management, seemingly overnight.  So, what is it that sets these fast-trackers apart?  They have figured out one of the fundamentals of career momentum:

Your job is not about doing your tasks.

Your job, no matter what level you’re at, is about helping the organization achieve its goals, realize its vision and fulfill its mission.  The tasks on your job description are only important to the extent to which they enhance organizational performance.  Fast-trackers get this.

Now, one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood is that the opposite of a great truth is also true.  So, yes, your job is about doing your tasks.  The foundation of any career is doing the work and doing it well.  You have to start there.

Then it’s time to explore how your work fits into the bigger picture.  Look for ways to streamline and optimize.  Find synergies between your tasks and the tasks of other team members, work groups or departments.  Share your ideas.

Look up from your task list, shift your thinking from how to why, and prove you have the big-picture vision of a leader.