As you begin to move about in the workforce there will likely be nothing more crucial than staying focused. Focus is important because it may be the difference between achieving your goals and being frustrated. Here are ten real life, time tested and personally utilized tips for staying focused and achieving your goals.
- Set clear, concrete goals. When you set a goal set it so that it is achievable. Use definitive language like “I am going to…” or “I will”. How you relate to your goal may affect your success in reaching it. For example, if your goal is to begin your career at a Fortune 500 company then you need to identify how you will break in to the desired company. A sample goal may be “I will apply for an entry level position at Big Box Corporation within the next 30 days.” Make sure your set immediate (30 days or less), short term (31-90 days), and long term (91 days or more.)
- Use your powers for good. Volunteer your time in a way that showcases your skills. While it doesn’t pay you cash, the payoff can be unbelievable. It gives people an opportunity to see you, your work ethic and your skills. It also affords you a way to move about and learn the inner workings of an agency or organization and to network.
- Walk the balance beam. While it is important to work hard and achieve goals it is equally important to decompress to avoid burnout. Do at least one thing for yourself every single week. If you enjoy going to the movies then go. Stepping back from your goal may help you reach it or gain insight into how to tweak your efforts to get there.
- Listen with your heart and mind. People will criticize you. Listen to it all. Sort the mean spirited and the negative out. For what is left, divide it into criticisms of character and criticisms of execution. Criticisms of execution—why you did something a particular way—are highly subjective and usually require less soul searching. Criticisms of character require more effort and honesty. Never be afraid to look honestly at the you that you are. Always ask yourself how can BE better not simply DO better.
- Never triumph or delight in someone else’s failing. The temptation to do this will be tremendous. When someone that has treated you poorly comes to their professional demise, it makes you no better than them if you revel in it. People will be watching to see your reaction but more importantly, the universe will be watching and you know what they say about karma.
- Stay out of the fray. Avoid participating in office gossip and idle chatter. You cannot be an active participant when people come with the “pooh guess what” and expect that you won’t be the subject of future guess what. Develop a demeanor that will make you a poor candidate for gossip.
- Recognize that office politics exist. There is very little you can do to avoid the interpersonal struggles that exist in workplaces. What you can do is avoid cliques and drama. If you are in a group and the conversation shifts to gossip, excuse yourself.
- Dress in the way you want to be perceived. If you want to be treated as a professional then poom poom shorts and sagging pants are out. Be neat and well groomed. For the ladies chose a flat shoe over a sneaker or a flip flop. For young men, properly fitted clothes and polished shoes are important. Invest in one good suit.
- Find a mentor. Mentoring is a wonderful way to gain insight. Many times it not only offers us professional insight but it offers us an opportunity to grow a personal relationship as well. Mentoring helps both mentor and mentee grow as individuals.
- Develop a professional and a personal strategic plan. Develop a strategic plan for any aspect of your life that you want to grow. Sit down and do the plan in sections. It is important that you put it away and revisit it. Make adjustments on paper if necessary but also make adjustments in the real life. There is free software available at www.planware.org. Click the link for strategic plan.
As you move around the workforce relish your experiences. Take the good with the bad and grow from all that you learn. Maintain professional relationships with people that you have worked well with. Lastly, where ever possible, do something you love. Welcome new professionals.