Let’s talk about career journeys.
We all know that each journey is as unique and interesting as the person experiencing it, so why do we keep comparing ours to others?
I know I’m guilty of this. I hop onto social media and instantly see all the wonderful progressions my past classmates or coworkers keep on making. And I start to second guess all the work I’ve been putting in lately.
Let’s take this time to break down how to stop looking outward, and start focusing on your own progression and growth, so that you can focus on breaking all the glass ceilings.
Compare yourself to the you that you were yesterday
By now, you know that it’s not productive to compare yourself to others. Not only to someone like Michelle Obama or Tina Fey, but also to your sister, best friend from elementary school or even your mom.
But I want to take this a little further. Stop comparing yourself to the best version of yourself. Yes, it’s great to strive for perfection - to a point. However, if you’re constantly trying to be the you that you were that one week after vacation when your creative juices were roaring and you were well rested, well, that’s just not reality.
Instead, look at the you that you were yesterday, and try to be better than that version. And let me tell you, that’s not always possible either, but it lets you take in the peaks and valleys and lets you embrace them.
Create big goals, but make them manageable
Big goals are great. Big goals are what gets us that promotion, that new job, or even that new business, but big goals can be intimidating.
When I look at my one-year or five-year goals, sometimes I don’t know where to start.
So, instead of hyper-focusing on that big, shiny goal, I break it down into achievable pieces.
What is something you can achieve this month, this week, or today? Create a list, and plot them down on a calendar for a great visual (hello bullet-journaling!). Once you start crossing items off the list, regardless of how small they are, you’ll get the motivation and confidence to keep going, and you’ll realize that the big goal you were fearing wasn’t such a big hurdle after all.
Check in with yourself
Now that you’ve set goals, it’s time to check in to see how you’re doing. I prefer checking in with my goals every six months, halfway through the year, and at the end of the year. These appointments you make with yourself should be taken seriously. You wouldn’t skip your review at your corporate job, so why is it okay to skip your personal review?
This is the time where you should look at your work honestly. Have you been a better version of yourself throughout time? Have you been growing toward your goals? Are your long-term goals more achievable? If yes, then great work, keep it up! But if your honest answer is no, this is also the time that you can reflect on what’s holding you back and brainstorm ways to make the next six months more productive.
Improve your skills
We talked earlier about comparing yourself to the you that you were yesterday, and making sure that you’re improving and growing over time.
One great way to ensure constant growth is by selecting skills you want to improve. This can be something as simple as time management or as complicated as learning a new skill like coding, but It must be something that you specifically identified as a skill that will help take you to the next level personally or professionally.
Give yourself a time frame. Maybe you need one year to learn one new coding language. So, take the time to learn.
Figure out if you need new courses or new equipment, and set a time frame in which this new skill can realistically be adopted.
Make sure you include this in your next check in, and reflect back to see how you have improved on this specific skill. Not only will this take your skillset to a new level, but it will also challenge you and keep you interested and engaged, making sure you’re continuously producing the best work that you can.
What if every day were as productive as today? How would your month look? Your year? Your career?
I've heard this question asked a lot in the health and fitness communities. What if every day you had the same diet, or workout routine as you did today (intensity-wise, of course it's important to switch things up), where would your body be in the future? So, it got me thinking, we can implement this same mantra into productivity.
Now this is a judgement-free post, because let me tell you, I'm a pro at procrastination. And not only do I procrastinate, I have a slight obsession with multi-tasking. You'll never see me performing one task on its own.
But then there are those days where I write out my list, and start crossing off the items one by one. And I don't even skip the difficult or "boring" tasks, I get through them all! And at the end of the day I feel accomplished, satisfied, and proud. I think to myself how much work I would be able to get done if all my days included pumping out my tasks and concentrating fully on what's right in front of me.
So, I start the next week off just like that. I get into the office on Monday, write down my list and get to work. By lunch time, I've already zipped through half my list, craving more. And I finish my day off strong. I push the Staples' "This Is Easy" button (okay, maybe only in my head) and head home pumped for the week ahead.
Then I wake up the next morning. Maybe my alarm went off late, or maybe I burnt my toast, but from the moment I wake up, I'm not feeling it. I brush it off and head into the office ready to get started on my list. But things come up, I chat a little longer than expected with a co-worker, and I make a coffee run (hey, Starbucks holiday drinks are back in stock, what can a girl do?), and before I know it, my day has run out.
I look at my list. Sure, some tasks are crossed off, but I certainly haven't been as productive as the day before.
"What if every day were like today?" I start asking myself. If every day were like this one, I would get nothing done in a year, and I might end up being Starbucks' number one customer! And then I get bummed out, and let the negative thoughts pester. And we all know that negativity begets negativity, so now I'm in this cycle I can't stop.
Have you had these thoughts yourself?
What I've learned is not to beat myself up. It sounds easy, but it takes practice. Yes, a productive day every day is the dream. But it's also not reality (just like eating the "perfect diet" every day isn't realistic). Having a good balance ensures you don't burn out and let's you be human. Instead of using one single day as the gold standard, I take an average of my week or my month to use as a comparison. And then I check in. Have I been as productive this month as I was last month? If not, what stood in my way and what can I push aside to ensure next month is better?
Keeping a positive mindset is the only way I get through those challenging, grey days. And being from Vancouver, let me tell you, there are lots of grey days.
So, what if every week were like this week? What would you accomplish?
Stay productive, Vancouver ✌