With 2013 well underway, I’ve been reflecting on ways to be a smarter, happier, and more productive professional. Here are my suggestions for professional resolutions:
Take risks and challenge authority.
The most successful relationships are built on mutual respect. Instead of saying “yes,” when given an assignment, carefully consider business implications. Don’t be afraid to offer ideas and solutions that may seem against the norm. Your ability to take initiative, generate new ideas, and deliver thoughtful counsel will earn you respect and grow your role beyond that of a tactician and into a true strategist.
Affect change as much as possible.
Focus on clients, projects, and priorities with the highest opportunities for meaningful results. Don’t get distracted by process or minutia.
It is easy to dwell on reasons our career, lives, and families are challenging, unreasonable, or stressful. In 2013, instead of staying on the complaint hamster wheel, take control and change your situation for the better. And as the cliché goes, “choose your battles”—stop stressing about organizational or personal situations you truly cannot change.
You are never going to win an argument with someone who isn’t rational. Instead, turn the demand or rant your boss or client spouted into a calm and positive opportunity. Don’t get defensive or seek validation; overcome your need to be right or prove a point. Walk away from situations that truly aren’t worth your energy. This includes office gossip.
Admit you’re human.
Take responsibility for your errors. Admitting you are wrong and working to rectify the situation in a thoughtful manner builds camaraderie and encourages an honest approach to business.
We aren’t doing life-saving surgery, fighting a war, or solving the debt crisis. It may feel like that sometimes, but although the work we do may be important and meaningful, maintain perspective and lose the self-importance.
Get over it!
Your boss or client criticizes your work, or worse, you. Not everyone is going to love your work all the time. Your openness to suggestions or criticisms and ability to learn from them, and not dwell on the negative, will serve you well.
Turn off the devices.
Being accessible 24-hours a day not only kills work/life balance, but it also sets unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. Truly shutting down for even a few hours a day will lessen your stress and help you recharge your body and your brain.
Consider your legacy.
We are all too young to think about our long-term legacies, yet take a moment to think about how you wish to be remembered and reflect on how you are living your life. If you honestly consider how you are perceived by colleagues, friends, and family, you may change your behavior, relationships, and perhaps even your professional path.
Volunteer, take on a pro-bono client, and consider building your corporate social responsibility offerings or career path. Working to improve society should be an element of everyone’s work and lives, regardless of the profession.
Best wishes for a productive, joyful, and healthy 2013.
Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Visit her blog www.lorrabrown.com or follow her on Twitter @LorraBrownPR.