How To Get Ahead At Work

From Lauren Handel Zander, Founder of The Handel Group and Author of Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap. Face Your Fears. Live Your Life.

No brain surgery, rocket science and/or fairy dust here: in order to get ahead at work there are some actual steps (and work) you will need to do. More than likely, you even know what you need to do. But, see the warning label for our species: we are good at keeping promises to others, but when it comes to keeping promises to ourselves, we can be last on our own list. There isn’t one of us that doesn’t know what we should be doing to get ahead at work, but are we doing it? Answer: Not so much.

Why is that?

I’ve coached thousands of CEOs, artists, and entrepreneurs get their minds under new management and align their actions with their dreams. To kickstart people into gear, I start by sharing a piece of good news: maybe it’s you.    

How is that good news?

You see, if you are the common denominator in everything that’s not going ideally in your career (and it’s not your boss, the economy, or Mercury in retrograde’s fault) then you can actually do something about it.

Here are 10 easy ways to get started:

1. First, you need to have a dream when it comes to your career. Even if you are not sure what it is exactly at this very moment––be willing to have, admit, and commit to a vision for your career right now. If it changes again in three months, so be it. Once you admit to having a vision for your career, put it down on paper. Yes, that’s right. Write your 3-year career vision. Write it as if it’s already happened, in the present tense. Make sure it’s specific. What is your title? What accomplishments have you had? How’s it feel? Make sure it’s a stretch, but not a pipe dream.

2. Share your career dream with at least three people that will not only clap for you, but hold you to it.

3. Get your head under new management. You are going to need to learn how to hear your inner dialogue for what it is––the voice of fear (chicken), the voice of an entitled tantrumm-ing four-year old (brat) and the voice that reports on your life in sweeping generalizations as if you have no say over it (weather reporter).

4. Hear your excuses for what they are. A hall pass for getting you out of what you say you are going to do. There are about 8 brands of excuses we all use. From the Don’t-Care Excuse to the Genetic Excuse to the Past Precedent Excuse, and so on. (Hey: see Chapter 3 of my book, if you want all 8!)

5. Learn how to keep a promise to yourself. Personal IntegrityⓇ is knowing how to keep a promise to yourself that is a match for your dream. It’s the alignment of your head (plan), heart (desire), and body (action).

6. Make promises that will forward your career vision. Make sure your promises are specific and measurable. Put in a self-imposed consequence should you not keep your promise. Something that will trump the BS of guilt and the need for excuses altogether. For example, pick something you are addicted to and/or are used to, like a favorite TV show, a past time (i.e. Candy Crush, Facebook, etc.), nightly wine, and hold it ransom should you not keep your promise. The goal is not to lose your Netflix, the goal is to have you fight a much better fight––for your career.

7. Get an accountability buddy, different than a drinking buddy. Someone who will hold you to your promise or make sure you pay the consequence.

8. Make a list of what you know that you need to up at work in order to be more productive. I promise you, you already know what doesn’t work about you and where you’d love to excel, but you’re more than likely, as I said earlier, not taking the right actions to change things. See: brat and chicken of #3.

9. Design your day, every day. Instead of being a mere reaction to what happens, write out how your day is going to go, before it happens. Similar to writing your vision, you write your DD (designed day) in the past tense, as if it already happened, because in our mind, it has. From how that big meeting went, to what your boss said to you, to what deals you closed and new networking opportunities arose. Author your own life.

10. Read my book, Maybe It’s You: Cut the Crap. Face Your Fears. Love Your Life. Don’t just read it, do all of the assignments in it, and, yes, buckle up. It’s a ride, but where we’re going is where your happiness (and career dream) resides.

Read Zander’s post on How to Be More Productive then check out How to Sleep Better from Dr. Holly Phillips or How to Relax from Kelly Morris.