In our world today, if you are able to make a living doing the things that you truly love to do, things that truly excite and motivate you, things that make you happy to get up each morning and leave the house looking forward to the day’s challenges, you should feel truly special. Many people go through their day marking time. Just watching the clock click away the minutes until finally, it is time to leave – and that is sad. Whether you are new to the workforce or a seasoned veteran in your job, you need to take a look at yourself and at your job to see what you can do to make your job, your career something that will give you the satisfaction that you need. We all can dream. We need to see ourselves in those dreams and realize that it is only a dream as long as we do not take steps towards making it our reality.
A lot of people start their work careers at a fast food franchise or cashiering in a big box store. Many do not aspire to make that their life’s career but don’t know how to move forward and change that position. Rather than bemoan the fact that you seem to be “stuck” take a look around you and see what you can do to make a change.
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Be patient! I know you want to have everything happen now but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. Realize that you have things to learn – about the job, about yourself and about working with others. This takes time and patience.
- Learn all you can about the industry or profession you choose. Do your research using the internet, personal contacts, professional contacts, job fairs, professional journals, mentors – by any means you can find. Learn about the educational requirements and what it takes to succeed. Go to job fairs and make inquiries at companies similar to the field you want to enter and see what opportunities are available or how you can break into the field.
- Take advantage of opportunities in your current position to showcase your talents. Perhaps you are very good with people or very good problem solving. Volunteer for opportunities to work with other employees in positions that many be different from yours to learn more about the company or to just learn how they were able to get the position that they have.
- Never, never, never leave free money on the table! By that I mean take advantage of every opportunity that your employer offers. Free tuition – take classes! Whether you start with one class a semester or more, someone else has offered to help you pay the tuition. Unsure what to study? Begin with some basic requirements that will be common to any major while you whittle down the courses to what your major will become. You will still be ahead of the game. Contribute to any employee savings account that provides for matching funds from your employee. It is NEVER too early to start saving for your future. Even if all you can afford is $10 a pay check. You begin something that will become a habit that you will take with you to every job you have and down the road when you look at retirement, you will be glad you did.
- Treat yourself with respect and show the same to others. A smile goes a long way. You may be having a bad day but so may your co-worker, or your customer, or even the person you are talking to on the phone (yes, I do feel a smile can be conveyed in the way you talk). Always, always, always be courteous and respectful and as the golden rule says “treat others as you would have them treat you.” The customer may not always be right but the customer or client or co-worker is always entitled to your best and your best includes respectful treatment. Your smile and “Hello, how may I help you” may be the only kind thing that person hears today. Their response may be the only kind thing you hear today. It showcases your people skills if you are successful and gives you something to work on if you are not. If a co-worker treats you disrespectfully, that does not mean you need to be disrespectful back to them. Try to find a way to have a discussion either directly or through a supervisor or colleague to find the source of the problem. There are times when you will run into people you just cannot get along with but you can learn to respect the position or the workplace and put those issues aside.
- Model your behavior and dress after someone you aspire to be. Learn your work culture and dress and act appropriately. Maybe in an advertising firm there is unlimited room to be a free spirit but most workplaces, while you don’t want to be a clone, you don’t want to be the person who looks out of place. You also don’t want to be the person that does not reflect the particular workplace. There is casual work attire and then there is appropriate casual work attire. Unless you are a fitness instructor or work at a fitness apparel company, there is never a good reason to wear stretch pants or yoga pants to work! Your attire reflects who you are and when at work, you represent the company you work for.
- Get a mentor! I recently heard of a Joseph, young man fresh out of university, who turned down an opportunity become a mentee of another Peter, a professional with whom I am acquainted. I knew that Peter would be a wonderful mentor because he was caring, compassionate, experienced and connected. Joseph man felt that when Peter could not point him to a better job during their initial conversation “the man couldn’t even promise me a job!” It is important to recognize that a mentor may not always be someone who can give you a job. However, that mentor can make the difference in your ability to find a job on your own. Mentors are eager to advise and counsel you in how to be the best person you can be. A mentor can guide you in busness etiquette, advise you on coursework you may need, open doors and help to make introductions to others who may potentially have business opportunities, listen to you and help work through your frustrations or provide help in making decisions. A mentor can prepare you to be ready to accept the opportunities that come your way. Never turn down the opportunity to benefit from the experience and knowledge a mentor can provide – they will be your biggest cheerleader and greatest supporter!
Are you waiting for things to happen to you rather than preparing yourself to make it happen? Whether your journey is just beginning or you are changing lanes, so much awaits you if you make the most of the talents that you have and take advantage of the resources around you.