Now that we’re about seven weeks into the new year, it’s a good time to take stock in where you are professionally. Review facets of your life to see if any tweaking is needed. Some areas to consider include:
Professional goals Review your life goals for this year. To what extent are you where you should be at this stage? Have you accomplished what you should have? Why, or why not? Don’t be too rough on yourself. There’s time to get back on track. Also, perhaps certain goals were too aggressive. Consider adjusting those goals.
Much like with a diet, your goals must be realistic. You should be commended for setting lofty goals, but make sure they are reasonable. Otherwise you’ll give up, and that’s worse than not trying at all.
Your workload All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but it can make for a stressed and ornery you. With today’s technology it is possible to work 24/7. For many folks, a 10-hour day is normal; even 12-hour days are starting to become commonplace. Some days and weeks will be busy, but that should not be the norm. That is not good for you, either mentally or physically.
Can you cut back, by delegating more or through other means? Realize what’s truly important in life. Perhaps a time management assessment is in order. Eliminate some of the waste, and your day becomes more productive. And shorter.
Your downtime We can be our worst critics, finding fault in nearly everything we do. A job performance review may turn up something that is minor but taken deep to heart. This results in additional pressure as we strive for perfection. Recognize when you’ve accomplished something—whether large or small—and pat yourself on the back.
Psychologists have stated for years that humans require positive “strokes.” Occasionally you need to step back and reward yourself. You won’t have to look hard for a reason. You frequently accomplish a task or provide a nice gesture to someone, so treat yourself.
Go to movie. Grab a box of candy. Take off for the weekend. Better yet, take a vacation. You and your family deserve quality time together apart from daily stresses and issues. You earned the break, so take it. Use these rewards as incentives to continue striving, but also as reminders that you must devote time for yourself.
Office tidiness This is one of those “when I get around to it” tasks. Now is that time. Rid yourself of old e-mails, letters, magazines and other materials you haven’t looked at in months. This will be a gargantuan task for some. The documents that you are sure you’ll need someday get added to the new ones generated every day. You keep thinking, “But I’ll use that someday!” Probably not.
Do you really need that copies of Inc. magazine going back three years? Dump ‘em. (Better yet, recycle the collection or donate them.) What about all those files, folders, and other paperwork? Set aside time for a thorough cleaning now. You’ll be amazed at how much better it feels to walk into a clean and well-organized office.
Take the time now to make any necessary changes. You will feel better, and you will notice a distinct improvement in your job satisfaction and performance.
For related reading, see “Need to make a decision? Get SMART” and “Ingraining the habits of highly effective people.”
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