It’s a New Year, Become a New You

NewYearNewYouSucessIt’s a brand new year and of course, we all have at least one resolution – or goal – to improve something about ourselves. A new career, new adventure, new life all sound like great things for which to strive. But, how many times have you resolved to change at the start of the new year, only to fall short and neglect the promise you are so eagerly committed to keep? No matter the goal, whether it’s simple or complicated, the frustration we feel when an interruption comes and challenges our commitment to the goals – often a lack of resources or will power – causes the resolutions to fall by the wayside.

No matter your goals, having the right- perspective and plan can help you meet- your goals for the  year.

Pick one goal to focus on and pursue it

Having a checklist of numerous resolutions can be overwhelming, and unrealistic. During my yearly personal strategic planning session, I identify the areas that may need improvement or adjusting, and prioritize the “to do” list, selecting just a few to focus on and pursue. Using the same approach to a New Year’s resolution can prove an efficient way to identify the top 1 or 2 concerns, allowing an opportunity to make real progress, since you are not overwhelmed with a laundry list of action items.

For example, if your goal is to get a new job, make that your primary focus and work on a plan for doing so, such as tweaking your job search process, updating your LinkedIn profile, working with a career coach, or actively participating in a networking event that draws potential employers in your job industry.

Get a support system

It is not always easy to pursue goals, and it can be downright daunting when you face challenges on your own, with no one to spur you on, or give you a little insight. Put together a support system, your personal cheerleading team, to help you with your resolutions and encourage you when difficult times arise.

For the new entrepreneur, your team of cheerleaders should include a mentor, at least one person who has expertise in your industry and viewed as an ally rather than a competitor, and a good friend who does not judge you and supports your dreams, but always tells you the truth. If you are graduating with an advanced degree this spring, your support system should include a trusted academic advisor, campus career center, and members of your professional or civic organizations who know you well. They are all resources for potential career opportunities, as well as resources for changes in the industry that may have occurred while you were pursuing your Master’s or Doctorate degree.

Celebrate the accomplishments

While pursuing a goal, it is always good to celebrate successes. In a culture where instant gratification is the norm, we can often be hard on ourselves if we don’t see immediate results. Focusing on the end-result without learning from and enjoying the process adds pressure, and you may, in frustration, give up on your goals.

Take a moment to appreciate each milestone and celebrate it! Take yourself out to lunch at a favorite restaurant, put on some great music and dance, check in with your cheerleaders, or give a token of appreciation to the mentor who coached and encouraged you until you reached your goal.

Shake off the setbacks

It is easy to celebrate our accomplishments, but it is often hard to be cheerful when we encounter a setback. Feelings of failure and frustration can erode progress made. While it can be difficult, view your setback as an opportunity for a do-over, and work on getting it right the next time.

Instead of abandoning a goal goes awry, use the setback as an opportunity for assessment and moving forward with your resolution. Evaluating why and how you detracted from your goal can help you zero in on how you can resume your progress, change your approach, or even abandon it if necessary.

Become the change you seek

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Become the change you seek in the world.” As it relates to maintaining your New Year’s resolutions throughout 2015 and beyond, your attitude will determine your ability to stay the course until your goal is fulfilled.

A popular practice is to create a vision board, a visual of what you want in life that you can look at to encourage you, or reinforce commitment. Whether you create a traditional vision board, or take to Pinterest or Instagram to create one online, they can be helpful in helping you identify your goals and motivate you to press on toward them.

What are your goals for 2015? Leave us a reply.

 About the Blogger: Kesi Stribling

Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist
Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist

 

DISCLAIMER: Since its original debut on MySpace in 2004 as Midweek Musings, ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content, unless otherwise noted, is the property of Ask the Strategist and its affiliates, and may not be re-published without express written permission from the Editor.

How to Survive a Horrible Boss

The follow-up to the 2011 hit movie, Horrible Bosses, is set to debut on November 26th, so I thought it may be a good idea to repost the Ask The Strategist entry, Surviving Horrible Bosses. Since the movie sequel, Horrible Bosses 2, will include new plot twists and characters, our post has been updated, as well.

Enjoy and feel free to share a horrible boss story of your own, including how you survived him/her, in the reply section below.

How to Survive a Horrible Boss

Horrible Bosses pulled in $28.3 million during its premier weekend in 2011. That should come as no surprise as the summer typically draws the masses to cooler environments for entertainment. Movie theaters are the perfect place to enjoy a little humor while keeping cool. The draw, however, was not solely the promise of frigid air for a few hours. Folks flocked to the big screen comedy to gain a glimpse into the characters’ world of horrible bosses – and how they dealt with these annoying rabble-rousers.

Don't let a Horrible Boss Get You Down
Don’t let a Horrible Boss Get You Down

In Horrible Bosses, art imitates life for some of us. We have, or have heard about, horror stories involving supervisors who demonstrate weird behavior in the workplace: sexual harassment, slacking off and doing no work, or basic ineptitude.

Characters played by Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, and Charlie Day are believable on the big screen, even though their zany plans to eliminate their horrible bosses is absurd. For the rest of us real people, how can we bear the burden of horrible bosses, get our work done, and even thrive in a dysfunctional environment without resorting to the far-fetched hijinks of this crew?

In all fairness, there are probably multitudes of great, supportive supervisors out there. For those poor souls who brave the horrible bosses every day, here are some helpful strategies for dealing with them.

Know who you are dealing with and act accordingly

If your boss morphs into the Incredible Hulk when employees approach her early in the morning, take this cue to ask any questions or get feedback later in the day. You can easily gauge your supervisor’s personality by taking time to observe her in the workplace. This includes how she treats her inner circle, including the executive assistant, human resources manager, and any interns assigned to the department. Does she treat certain individuals differently? If your boss seems to become more pleasant with an individual than the rest of the team, figure out why.

Does that employee anticipate what your supervisor will ask for and have it in advance? Does the staff member exert extra initiative? Does the employee cower or stand up for his or her rights in the workplace? Take a moment to study an employee who seems to get some level of respect from horrible bosses (yes, there is usually one), figure out how the positive interaction can work for you, and implement the process for yourself. Take care to avoid artificiality. Bosses will notice it, and it may place you in a less desirable situation than you are already in at work.

Don’t give them an inch and they won’t be able to take a yard

Some bad bosses simply get away with bad behavior because employees, who want to make a good impression when they begin work, change the game in mid-play. Most people, at work and in life, get used to the way people behave and respond.

If you started the job with a can-do, bend over backwards to get it done spirit, your supervisor will always think of you as a go-to person who never says no. Even when it is 7:00 p.m. and you are trying to leave the office to pick up your son at daycare before it closes at 7:15 p.m., a bad boss will expect you to call your spouse, neighbor, or stranger to collect your kid from the babysitter. Having a little backbone in the beginning, while still displaying the ultimate professionalism, helps curtail excessive expectations from an insensitive supervisor.

Let them know when enough is enough

There are times when a bad boss’ behavior crosses the line – morally and legally. I do not recommend that you consider hit men to take care of these annoying individuals as the protagonists did in the movie Horrible Bosses. Instead, do three things: take your temperature; get feedback; and, put them in their places.

Taking your temperature – or surveying yourself to identify if you are responding appropriately, or are overreacting – is the first step in identifying what, if anything, you should say to a cantankerous supervisor. Consider the boss’ behavior. Is the perceived violation a personal affront? Offensive to everyone? Offensive to women, transgendered, or racially different (from the supervisor) employees? A bad mood leading to a one-off slight?

If the temperature is off the charts, the next step is to get feedback from someone else. It always helps to get another perspective. A coworker who reports to the same supervisor, or has witnessed bad behavior by the boss, can shed light on the situation and help you determine if you should advance to the final step: put them in their places.

There are many ways to check bad behavior in the workplace. If your supervisor’s activities warrant intervention, there is a way to address the behavior professionally, and without potential repercussions. If you have a good relationship with your horrible boss (it can happen – think about the weird, but workable, relationship between Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute on The Office), then you may be able to gently approach the subject. If your supervisor is not that congenial, you may want to take the situation to your human resources department and let the HR professional deal with your supervisor directly. Not only does it take the pressure off you, it lessens the likelihood of potential retaliation if human resources handles the issue appropriately.

Become indispensable at work

Chances are that if you are indispensable in the workplace, horrible bosses may check their rude behavior so that you do not quit your job. They may still be ill tempered and rude; however, these supervisors generally know not to press their luck with you.

Develop and display your exceptional skills – fiscal responsibility, the ability to troubleshoot and fix office technology, or exceptional speech writing capabilities – that your horrible boss relies upon to get through his or her day. When people have to ask you to do things, they are less likely to tick you off for fear that you may not help them or will be reluctant to assist when you are truly needed. Sadly, this is a reality in some workplace environments.

Get your backup plan ready

If you decide that you’ve had enough, and the “higher ups” refuse to deal with your boss’ behavior, then get your resume ready and network with others within your industry until you can make the transition into a different department, or work at a new company.

Detail your work functions and contributions on your CV and the impact they have had within your division. Be sure to include the results the company gained by your hard work – reduction in customer wait time, increased satisfaction rate or revenue, or the creation of new business opportunities. Once you have polished your resume, update and overhaul your social media presence, especially on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Your objective is to shore up your experience without needing your supervisor’s recommendation or endorsement for your next gig. What professional alliances and relationships have your created since working at the company? These networks should serve as references for future employers, or provide you guidance on transitioning into another work environment. So often, employees feel stuck in a job with toxic supervisors because they have not devised their own career plans, and end up staying in unhealthy situations. Getting your plan ready before you need can help you survive, and sidestep, a horrible boss.

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ABOUT THE BLOGGER: Kesi Stribling

Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist
Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist

DISCLAIMER: Since its original debut on MySpace in 2004 as Midweek Musings, ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content, unless otherwise noted, is the property of Ask the Strategist and its affiliates, and may not be re-published without express written permission from the Editor.

The Rules of Civility

In an era of seemingly uncivil people (cue any Real Housewives franchise slap fest), I recently stumbled upon Rules of Civility: The 110 Precepts That Guided Our First President in War and Peace, edited by Richard Brookhiser.

Originally published in 1997, with a healthy update from Brookhiser in 2003, Rules of Civility pre-empted the onslaught of reality television, and stories of soccer moms behaving badly on the field. This book takes a refreshing look at sage advice President George Washington followed, notions he learned as a child in the 1700s.

TheRulesofCivility-RichardBrookhiser While a few rules appear outdated (rule #9 – spit not into the fire, nor stoop low before it), the majority of ways to conduct oneself are practical, especially when it comes to governing ourselves in business. More than a primer on etiquette, Rules of Civility focuses on the motivation beyond the action. For example, rule #23 admonishes that “when you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show pity to the suffering offender.” The motivation is to treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Here are the top five career-related rules:

1. Rule #12: Shake not your head, feet, or legs, roll not the eyes, lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, wry not the mouth, and bedew no man’s face with your spittle by approaching too near him when you speak.

These are a few non-verbal communication deal breakers that job seekers interviewing for a position, and entrepreneurs meeting with potential clients and investors, should avoid.

2. Rule #15: Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean, yet without showing any great concern for them.

Be neat, tidy, and professionally garbed when you interview for a job, or go to work everyday; however, take care not to overly emphasize your appearance, for it can make you appear conceited and superficial.

3. Rule #35: Let your discourse with men of business be short and comprehensive.

Brevity, when speaking with business leaders – men and women – is always a plus. We can all do without listening to a monopolized company meeting, whether it’s the supervisor or employee.

4. Rule #40: Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty.

The boss – or customer – is always right. Also, do not be heavy handed with your judgment, so as not to embarrass your co-workers or become the office know-it-all.

5. Rule #82: Undertake not what you cannot perform but be careful to keep your promise.

As the adage says, under-promise and over-deliver. Enough said.

 Which of these rules hit home the most for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

NOTE: This updated post first appeared on the original Ask The Strategist website on August 6, 2011.

About the Blogger: Kesi Stribling

Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist
Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. Never miss ASK THE STRATEGIST blog posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by subscribing. All content, unless otherwise noted, is the property of Ask the Strategist and its affiliates, and may not be re-published without express written permission from the Editor.

The Power of No

Last week, Dr. Oz had a physician, Dr. Sue Varma, on his show who detailed the health challenges that befall certain personality types (What does your personality reveal about your health?). For example, Type C folks often bottle up their feelings, and potentially shave years off their lives because they refuse to say no to others because they want to please them. Saying yes to people or situations that warrant a “no,” can also have an impact beyond health.

I am an unabashed optimist who believes in embracing opportunity, which usually comes from saying yes to something: a last-minute speaking engagement, guest blog post, or a chance to submit an article. The problem is that we sometimes say yes to others, when we would gain more power (personal and professional) from just saying no.

Sometimes turning down an opportunity is the best thing to do.
Sometimes turning down an opportunity is the best thing to do.

Recently, I had two opportunities, one professional and the other personal, presented to me. Let me address the work-related one, which would have allowed me to practice my professional strengths. There is no doubt that I would have enjoyed my work. I ultimately decided not to pursue the opportunity because my intuition signaled that it would interfere with other professional opportunities that may have presented themselves after committing to the engagement.  Making the decision to decline was initially a hard one, but one that I did not regret because another, better opportunity came along one week later.

I am not suggesting that you turn down opportunities, willy-nilly, that could potentially lead to great experiences.

The point of the Power of No is that when we take time to think decisions through thoroughly, peacefully, and with a sense of clarity, we sometimes realize that saying yes to something that we should really decline could interfere with better opportunities that are more beneficial for us.

That’s the Power of No.

Note: This blog post originally appeared on the first Ask The Strategist site on April 12, 2013.

About the Blogger: Kesi Stribling

Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist
Kesi Stribling, Editor, Ask The Strategist

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. Never miss ASK THE STRATEGIST blog posts! Have them delivered to your inbox by subscribing. All content, unless otherwise noted, is the property of Ask the Strategist and its affiliates, and may not be re-published without express written permission from the Editor.

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