MOST ambitious professionals have a long-term career strategy encompassing at least the next five years. Achieving your goals often starts with the small things. By acquiring positive daily habits you will find that the road to realising your vision becomes much smoother:
1 Plan and prioritise: Create a daily plan that includes at least one task that will contribute towards the achievement of your long-term career strategy. For example, make a useful connection within your network who can give you advice where your skills base is lacking.
Doing at least one thing during your day will give you a sense of achievement before you proceed to the more routine tasks.
2 Don’t procrastinate: If there are difficult tasks you need to complete, move them to the top of your list. By getting into the habit of completing them quickly, you will be able to move on to the more motivational, enjoyable aspects of your day.
Don’t sit staring at a blank screen or clearing e-mails in the hope they will disappear — they won’t. The sense of satisfaction once you have overcome the so-called “obstacle” will enable you to get into the habit of clearing the difficult tasks early on in the day.
3 Update your industry knowledge: Keeping on top of your relevant industry trends and developments will enable you to stay ahead of the field when it comes to your customers and suggesting innovative ideas to your employers. Subscribe to relevant websites, industry press or LinkedIn groups that will provide you with regular updates.
4 Don’t get distracted by the trivial: It is easy to get caught up in e-mail and online distractions that will stop you from achieving your daily goals.
If the temptation of the latest update or message is too much to resist, install a software program such as Freedom which blocks your Internet access for a specific amount of time. This is particularly useful for professionals who are field-based or self-employed and work regularly from home.
5 Adopt a positive attitude: Your working day will, without doubt, live up to your expectations, whether upbeat or downbeat.
If you get out of bed convinced you face a day of challenges and setbacks before you even begin, the chances are you will. Expect great things from your day and you are more likely to encounter them.
6 Talk to your mentors: Create your own support network or team of mentors with whom you share long-term career goals. When you encounter a temporary setback or struggle to meet a deadline, your network will advise and encourage you.
Daily updates are preferable to maintain your focus, whether via social media, telephone calls or e-mail. These updates will also help to keep you accountable and you can always reciprocate by encouraging your mentors in their career aims.
7 Avoid negative conversations: Don’t get lured into negative conversations with colleagues who are unhappy with the boss, the company or life in general. Allowing their negative energy to permeate your workspace will distract you from your daily goals. Excuse yourself and end the conversation on a positive note.
8 Get some exercise: The positive psychological benefits of exercise are widely known, especially for overcoming that lethargic feeling after a long day at the office.
Try and get some form of exercise every day. Even a walk at lunchtime will enable you to clear your mind and refocus on the afternoon ahead.
9 Assess your progress: At the end of each working day, review what you have achieved against your original plan. If there are outstanding items on your list, evaluate the reasons why.
Were you unnecessarily distracted during the day? Are you trying to pack too much into your daily schedule? No matter how eager you are to achieve, your daily goals have to be realistic. Use the Smart acronym to set them — specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely.
10 Express gratitude: Keep a journal and record three things every day for which you are grateful. It will maintain your focus while helping to eliminate any stray negative thoughts. Concentrating on the positive things in life will enable your expectations to remain high.
Article by Kate Smedley, an associate writer with Sandbox Advisors, a firm that helps people with careers, job search and training in Singapore. For more information, visit www.sandboxadvisors.com