Hints to help bump up 2012

January 16, 2012

Q:  I love my work, team and organization, so I don’t understand why I’m feeling so
stagnant and bored. I’d appreciate some suggestions to kick start my year.

A: Sometimes we need a change and a challenge. Here are some ideas to make 2012 a
motivating adventure.

– Take on something completely different at work. Step up for an acting role, a
secondment to a project, or an assignment in new department where you would be
shaken out of your com-fort zone, challenged and grow.

– Initiate a cause in your organization that’s meaningful to you. A client of
mine led a team to build a school in Kenya.

– Hire coach to give you a shot in the arm, a kick in the butt and explore more
of your potential!

– Mentor someone who you really want to see succeed at work or in your community.

– Take an intensive leadership pro-gram, get a degree, learn to conquer a fear.
Engage your mind in new ways.

– Set a lofty career aspiration with an unrealistic timeline and ask a mentor to
hold you to it.

– Take a sabbatical to work with a community that would benefit from your
expertise. Nothing is more humbling or rewarding than serving those who attempt
to do so much with so little.

– Transfer to another geographic region or business partner. Be bold. Go
somewhere you don’t speak the language.

– Write a professional bucket list and start tackling it NOW. If you only had one
year left at your company what would you want your legacy to be?

– Email me what you choose and in December let me know how it went. Make it a
breathtaking year!

Originally published in The Province, January 15, 2012.

You’re still the boss of you

July 29, 2007

Q:  People keep dumping extra tasks on to my plate, even though they’re not my responsibility — and if I don’t do the work, it won’t get done. I can’t say no, yet I’m sick of all the overtime I do to keep up with the additional demands. Help!

A:  You are a highly responsible individual, but unfortunately your continual “over-functioning” has trained others to believe they can get away with doing less by convincing you to take on their work.

The first step toward change is to understand the payoff motivating you to accept this treatment. Do you feel more valued when others ask you for help? What stops you from saying no? Are you worried about looking bad? Do you fear repercussions?

Requests may feel like demands, but you do have a choice. Take a minute to ask yourself, “What’s in it for me? Am I truly willing — not just able — to accept the task?” If the answer is no, say so up front instead of resenting the commitment or complaining later.

You are committed to a job well done, but how did this become your responsibility? What about the other workers’ roles? Ask what part they’re taking on before you agree to anything.

The next step is to practise saying no to low-risk or easy things. Be prepared for some resistance from those accustomed to taking you for granted, but stick to your guns.

Find other ways to say no. For example, “I’d like to, but that doesn’t work for me,” or, “I won’t be able to consider that until [some future date convenient for you].”  You may work for an organization, but you are still the boss of you.

Originally printed in The Province, July 29, 2007.

Leave your work at the office

January 14, 2007

Q: By Sunday evening I start dreading going back to work. I don’t sleep well worrying about all I have to do Monday morning. Then I begin my week tired and unproductive. What can I do?

A: Imagine an airplane on the tarmac with its jets revving at full throttle all weekend in anticipation of a Monday morning takeoff. It needlessly stresses its delicate instruments, drains its precious fuel and prematurely wears out its high-performance engines. 

That’s exactly what goes on in type-A, driven personalities who cannot turn off their work motor.

De-clutter your mind before the weekend begins. Take the last 30 to 60 minutes Friday afternoon to map out the following week. Write yourself a to-do list and block out time in the upcoming week to deal with it. Committing tasks to a calendar will free your mind to relax, now that details won’t be forgotten.

Start your week with wins. Spend the first 30 to 60 minutes on Monday mornings tying up loose ends, answering e-mails and completing any tasks you can from your Friday list. These small victories will create a momentum of accomplishment right out of the gate.

During the weekend, leave work behind and have a life — truly. Balance is critical in order to be fully engaged at work, rather than being resentful of it and burning out.

Originally printed in The Province on January 14, 2007.

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