Six ways to re­vamp a slug­gish ca­reer

Los Angeles Times - - JOBS -

Kerry Pat­ter­son, Joseph Grenny, David Max­field, Ron McMil­lan and Al Swit­zler — au­thors of “Change Any­thing: The New Science of Per­sonal Suc­cess” — of­fer these tips to put a spark in your step as you climb the ca­reer lad­der to where you want to be.

1. Vi­su­al­ize what you want.

A larger salary? The op­por­tu­nity to work with high-pro­file clients? Zero in on ex­actly what you want. Then, mo­ti­vate your­self to get it by vividly imag­in­ing what can be — if you make the nec­es­sary changes. To aid with vi­su­al­iza­tion, the au­thors sug­gest cre­at­ing a per­sonal mo­ti­va­tion state­ment — a pow­er­ful phrase or two that is mean­ing­ful to you and stirs you to stay on track — and recit­ing it when­ever you feel like slack­ing off or are tempted to avoid the be­hav­iors that will lead to greater suc­cess.

“The first step to chang­ing be­hav­ior is to make the dis­tant fu­ture more salient, plau­si­ble and com­pelling,” Grenny notes. “For ex­am­ple, some­one who has the goal to get a raise may have a per­sonal mo­ti­va­tion state­ment sim­i­lar to the fol­low­ing: ‘I would like to see my­self as a tal­ented con­trib­u­tor. I’d like to in­crease my in­come so I can buy X. I’d like to have the re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion of the smartest peo­ple at our com­pany.”’

It also can be worth­while to vi­su­al­ize a de­fault fu­ture, a sce­nario of what is likely to be if you don’t change your work habits. Imag­in­ing another medi­ocre per­for­mance re­view or the pit in your stom­ach when a co-worker gets the pro­mo­tion you were eye­ing can pro­vide the in­cen­tive needed to take ac­tion.

2. Take time for de­vel­op­ment.

Wish­ing is one thing, ac­tion is another. Iden­tify the skills you need to progress in your ca­reer. Take classes and sem­i­nars ac­cord­ingly, and read books to ex­pand your ex­per­tise. Mak­ing your­self more knowl­edge­able and rel­e­vant can open up new op­por­tu­ni­ties and re­new your pas­sion (as well as give oth­ers a more fa­vor­able im­pres­sion of your abil­i­ties and com­mit­ment).

3. As­so­ciate with hard work­ers.

Re­mem­ber your mother wor­ry­ing about who you hung out with in high school? The com­pany you keep in the work­place can like­wise have a neg­a­tive in­flu­ence. Dis­tance your­self from the of­fice slack­ers.

The bad at­ti­tudes and habits that are keep­ing you back are likely be­ing en­abled, tol­er­ated or en­cour­aged by oth­ers. In­stead, evoke pos­i­tive peer pres­sure by sur­round­ing your­self with hard-work­ing col­leagues who share your ca­reer goals.

4. Find a trusted men­tor.

A good men­tor is en­cour­ag­ing, but also hon­est enough to tell you where you need to im­prove. He can help you nav­i­gate ca­reer de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist within the or­ga­ni­za­tion and point out things you may not see.

5. Put money at risk.

Sure, ev­ery­one has been mo­ti­vated by a car­rot on a stick at one time or another. But here’s a spin that adds some punch: Set aside a bit of money each week. If you reach a short-term goal, such as turn­ing in a re­port on time, you can pur­chase a re­ward. If you fall short, how­ever, the cash gets do­nated to a po­lit­i­cal party you op­pose. Ouch.

6. Con­trol your workspace.

In all hon­esty, won’t you be more likely to ac­tu­ally proof­read the chart you brought home if you don’t try to do it in the same room as your big-screen tele­vi­sion? Make pro­duc­tive habits eas­ier by en­list­ing the power of your sur­round­ings. If you set your sched­ule back 15 min­utes each time you walk past the wa­ter cooler, reroute your trips. If you’re po­si­tioned near a gath­er­ing place such as the mail­boxes, re­quest a trans­fer to a less so­cial lo­ca­tion. (And whether at home or at work, turn off elec­tronic in­ter­rup­tions when­ever pos­si­ble.)

Like­wise, use your en­vi­ron­ment to prompt and in­spire. An up-to-date cal­en­dar, a pri­or­i­tized to-do list and or­ga­nized files can greatly in­crease ef­fi­ciency and feel­ings of com­pe­tency. And don’t for­get sub­tle re­minders that can keep you on task. A mo­ti­va­tional mes­sage as a screen­saver or a pic­ture of the va­ca­tion spot you want to visit when you get a raise can be just what you need to choose pro­duc­tiv­ity over surf­ing the In­ter­net.

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