Ever notice how sometimes your computer freezes up and is doing you no good until you think of “rebooting” it? Once the machine powers back on, you find that it’s working in a more rapid and focused fashion. The same goes for your career. To avoid getting stuck in sleep mode, it’s essential that you pause, reflect and press restart, rather than mindlessly moving through another year. Intention about where you are going and how you will get there – “mindfulness” – will carve a path to success.
Mindfulness is "paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally," according to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn. So think of it this way: We are most likely to get results where our attention lies. How can you be mindful with your intention to reboot your career this year? Here are a few guideposts to fast-track your progress:
1. Step Back and Draw Your Boundaries
No doubt your to-do list for this year is already lengthening. Plan time for yourself now, before you feel like you can’t spare it. When will I take time off and how will I spend it? When will I exercise? Which day of the week will I come into the office really early to ensure I’m not working too late on a day when I have family commitments? When will I see my friends?
By having boundaries in place, you are more apt to launch yourself from a grounded platform that gives you confidence in all you do at work. Many people veer off the tracks because a foundation built on boundaries is not in place. Those who have this cornered seem to thrive.
2. Stick to Your Stakeholders like a Post-it Note
Want to keep connections with those in your orbit? Work it into your schedule…literally. Just like important reminders on your Post-it notes, task yourself with reaching out to key contacts. Make a list of the people in your work world with whom you need to stay connected – lunching, catching up, sharing ideas and so on. You must make time for those things, because you will never find the time to network.
Remember: To some degree, you cannot be successful without the help others. A deserted island may seem like paradise at first, but how long can you really survive alone? Don’t get lost in “task land” and neglect the opportunity to foster relationships that will prove valuable.
3. Set Stretch Goals for Yourself
You can either slog along in this life, just getting by, or you can be fabulous. It is your choice. The difference lies in the goals that you set for yourself.
Do things this year that test your limits and make you a little uncomfortable (but in a very good way). Give more speeches and presentations; take a course that sharpens your skill in a key competency; go to a networking event where you don’t know anyone and just dive in, armed with your business cards and your confidence. Harnessing self-encouragement to tackle challenges will pay off big time, if you manage them in a savvy kind of way.
4. Manage Your Personal Brand
Minding your image at all times is key to your success. Think of your personal brand as what you want people to say about you when you are not there. What do you want people to think when they hear your name? Your actions can turn you into the finely engineered Bentley of the business world or the old clunker car that needs a tune-up in a bad way – it’s up to you. Each day, go out there and improve your personal brand, one interaction at a time, whether preparing for a presentation or interacting with a stakeholder.
5. Power Off to Power Through
On some days, people will be frustrating, politics will be exhausting, and your own internal “system” will feel like it’s on overload in one or more quadrants of your life. It’s important to remember that, at times like these, walking away or “powering off” for a little while may be most beneficial to overcome the obstacles. Resting, reflecting, and finding joy in solitude or with those you care about most can be like medicine for your soul. When you power back on, there will be better speed in your own internal processing.
Create boundaries; make time to stay in touch with your network; push yourself; become who you want to be in the eyes of others; take a break (without giving up!). These are all interconnected, so don’t allow one to become the weak link in the chain. As you seek success this year, remember the importance of being mindful, focused on what and whom matters most. Paying attention will pay off, guaranteed.
Leigh Ann Errico is a certified leadership coach and the founder and managing director of LAErrico & Partners.