36 Good Workplace Habits to Build a Successful Career
Are you stuck in a rut of mediocre workplace habits that aren't helping you build a successful career?
Do you want to set your business up to thrive, but just can't seem to get in the groove to propel yourself to the next level?
Good workplace habits are essential for anyone who is passionate about success. Positive habits increase your productivity and job satisfaction, and allow you to have more beneficial relationships with your coworkers.
Here are 36 habits that you can start doing today that will help you approach your work life in a more effective way.
Work Habits to Boost Your Creativity and Motivation
1. Keep a Record of Your Ideas
You can never be certain about when an idea will strike, opening up a world of possibilities for you. Chances are, if you don't stop to write it down, it may seem like some parts of your idea go missing from your memory as time passes. This is why recording your ideas as they come to you at the spur of the moment is an essential work habit.
Fortunately, these days we have several tools available at our fingertips to keep track of our ideas and passing inspirations. Try a mobile app like Evernote or Google Keep to put all of your ideas into a central location. You can even keep a pen and paper with you to jot things down. This way, you can clear your mind to be able to focus on your current tasks instead of making the effort to keep track of all of your brainstorms.
Each week, go through all of your new ideas and create a plan to carry them out. You may find that you want to modify some of your previous thoughts, or even trash one or two altogether. But as long as they are written down, you have the freedom to set them aside and focus on other things until you have the time to address them properly.
2. Limit Mindless Distractions
Of course you want to take breaks every now and then to mindlessly scroll through social media or play a computer game that does not require much thought. However, if you spend too much time on these pointless pastimes, you are taking important time away from yourself that should be spent on your business.
To have a successful career, you need to limit the amount of time that you waste, and try to keep distractions to a minimum.
To help reduce your distractions, start by setting a time limit on your breaks and mindless activities. For example, if you work hard to complete a task and do it successfully, then you can reward yourself with a 10-minute break of mindless activities.
The amount of time that you are able to waste on mindless activities is likely to vary depending on your workload. It may be reasonable to give yourself longer breaks if you are caught up on your work, but be prepared to have the flexibility to greatly limit your breaks during busy times when you need to focus all of your attention on the task at hand.
To help you reduce mindless consumption, take a few weeks to keep track of how long you spend on everything you do. Record your actions in a software such as Rescue Time so you are able to look back and analyze how much time you are wasting, and where you can make improvements.
Set aside specific times during the week to take breaks. For example, perhaps there is a television show that you like to watch, or some mindless reading that you enjoy. Pick a time—for example, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm every Sunday night—and reserve this time for these activities.
3. Block Out Time to Disconnect
While technology does help us save time in many different ways, it also takes a lot of time away from us. People used to be able to walk out of work and call it a day before going home to their families for the night. This is no longer true, as smartphones and laptops keep us constantly connected.
People are no longer required to disconnect and decompress from their jobs, and they often forget to consciously take the time to do so.
One of the best workplace habits you can create for yourself is to block off time each day where your phone and e-mail are turned off and people know to not disturb you. Spend this time away from all technology, and just work with your thoughts and ideas. This will help give you the time to reach the level of “deep work” that is needed in order to be successful.
In return, set aside “office hours” when people know that you are available to be reached. This will help set boundaries with people so they know you are available to help them, but that you are also in control of your schedule.
Turn off e-mail notifications. Rather than answering e-mails as they come in, set aside time in the morning and afternoon to go through and address your inbox. Unless you are expecting an urgent message, this will limit the number of times that you have to take your mind away from the task at hand and switch your focus to someone else's request.
4. Set Aside Time to Read Every Day
We are taught at a young age that reading is the pathway to success. While reading for 30 minutes every day does not guarantee that you will be successful, successful people are most likely avid readers.
One thing that successful people have in common is their ability to focus on one task for an extended period of time. Reading is rarely a quick process, and often requires breaks. However, the most avid reader will keep coming back to a book until it is completed. Successful people apply this same practice to any professional task that they set out to do.
Start by bringing a book with you wherever you go, and read it whenever you have some downtime. The books you choose do not even have to be relevant to your industry. Rather, you can learn from people who are very different from you, and apply their policies or programs to your own field of work.
If you do not have 30 minutes of downtime each day to spend reading, opt for an audiobook that you can listen to during your commute to work. Once you find something that piques your interest, read at least three books on the subject. This will help you create a foundation for the information that you can then build on and internalize.
The more you are able to read about a particular topic, the more the information will set in and become a central part of your thinking.
Here are some book recommendations:
5. Get Some Exercise Every Day
Successful people know that getting exercise is a critical component to both mentally and physically pushing themselves to their limits.
Many studies have found that getting exercise every day is one of the most important habits to have if you want to lead a healthier and happier life. It leads to a higher quality of sleep, increased memory, better concentration, and a mental sharpness that you will not achieve if you are sedentary.
The Journal of Labor Research found that people who incorporate exercise into their schedules earn an average of nine percent more than those who don’t.
Additionally, the more exercise you do, the higher your income is likely to be. With its ability to decrease anxiety, raise self-esteem, and improve brain function, finding an exercise that you enjoy doing—and sticking with it—is something you should consider in order to have a successful career.
Don't be taken in by the idea that exercise has to be limited to going for a run every day. Explore your options and consider group activities that you can enjoy, such as joining a softball team or taking dancing lessons. Think about your physical limitations, and pick an exercise that will work for you in the long term.
To keep yourself accountable, involve a friend who also wants to enjoy doing physical activities. This can help you stick to a schedule and keep each other on track so you can ensure your consistency.
6. Make Healthy Decisions
If you are constantly making unhealthy decisions, it can impact both your body and your mind. Together, this can have a huge impact on your professional success.
How to Make Healthy Decisions:
1. To analyze your lifestyle, write down everything you do on a daily basis that is beneficial to your health.
2. Write down all of your habits that could be considered harmful to your health.
3. Pick one of your healthy habits and create a plan to increase it just a bit. For example, if you normally exercise three times per week, increase it to four.
4. Alternatively, select one of your unhealthy habits and make a plan to eliminate or decrease it. For example, if you find yourself reaching for a soda every day at 3:00 pm to give you an afternoon boost, switch to herbal tea.
5. Choose one of your bad habits that you can replace with a related good habit. For example, if you spend half an hour every morning scrolling through social media while you drink your coffee, substitute that reading with a book that can benefit you in some way.
6. Take time every week to evaluate your progress. If you find that you are having slip-ups, figure out what is causing them, and what you can change to avoid making the same mistake in the future.
Every day offers you the chance to start with a clean slate and make healthy decisions, so set yourself up for success by eliminating anything that is disrupting your progress.
7. Make Sleep a Priority
A study conducted by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine reported that people who sleep only six to seven hours each night have a lower death rate than people who sleep eight hours per night.
The healthiest amount of sleep to aim for is six and a half hours, which will not only increase your lifespan, but also help you stay productive while you are awake.
In order to get high-quality sleep, you must control your environment. Proper sleep hygiene requires micro-habits that will allow you to get the rest that your body needs.
- Make sure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep.
- Eliminate background noises and unnecessary lights to block out distractions that can keep you awake.
- Go to bed at the same time every night so your body is used to the routine of sleeping and waking up on schedule.
- Don't spend time watching television, reading, or eating in bed.
- Eliminate smoking, alcohol or caffeinated beverages several hours before you go to sleep.
- If you have trouble sleeping, try to visualize something relaxing, like walking on the beach or getting a massage.
- If you are spiritual, take the time to say a prayer to help let go of your problems and concerns and get some rest.
8. Wake Up Early
It is important to set yourself up for success each day. The first few hours of your day will have a significant impact on your level of productivity for the rest of the day, so it is best to get off to a good start.
Once you are able to get into the habit of waking up early, you will then have the freedom to have that time to work in a distraction-free environment before your day gets busy.
This can give you time to get important tasks done, as well as plan out your schedule for the remainder of the day. This is a great time to tackle the most important tasks on your list while your mind is clear and others around you are still getting themselves set up for the day. Once you set this positive tone for your day, you will likely carry on that motivation until the end.
As soon as you wake up:
1. Give yourself some exposure to bright light to let your mind know that it is time to get up.
2. Clean up any messes that are left over from the day before so you are ready to start the day with a clean slate.
3. Fuel and hydrate your body before getting some exercise to set a healthy precedent for yourself.
4. Take some time to connect with your passion to remind yourself why you work so hard each day.
9. Meditate or Keep a Journal
Meditation and journaling are both practiced in every major religion, and are even part of the everyday routines of non-religious people.
Everyone can benefit from taking the time to be quiet with their thoughts, or writing down their thoughts on paper. Even just having a stream-of-consciousness writing session that has no real objective can help to clear one's mind.
It is a good workplace habit to spend 5 to 10 minutes every day either journaling or meditating. It is best to do either just before beginning your day, or right before you go to sleep. Whichever practice seems more appealing to you is the one that you are likely to get the most out of.
Using a journal such as The Five-Minute Journal: A Happier You in Five Minutes Per Day can help you produce the best results in the shortest period of time. Once you have learned the most efficient way to journal or meditate that works the best for you, be sure to stick with that practice.
For example, if buying an expensive journal will give you the motivation that you need to write in it, go ahead and make that investment. If you would rather use your smartphone or tablet, buy an app such as the Five-Minute Journal app (iTunes) to help you accomplish this task every day.
10. Reward Yourself
You probably have some mindless tasks that you enjoy doing, like scrolling through social media, checking your email, or socializing with your friends.
Make these activities into rewards for reaching a goal or completing a specific task. The larger the accomplished goal is, the greater the reward should be.
Review your S.M.A.R.T. goals and assign a reward for achieving each one. Make sure, however, that your reward doesn’t counteract what you are trying to accomplish. For example, don't create a goal to lose five pounds and then reward yourself with a large splurge meal.
Instead, create a list of things that you enjoy doing and set aside time to do these things if you are on track with your work.
Make sure to resist any temptations to do your "reward" activity while you are supposed to be doing work. Instead, make sure to only do these activities during the time that you have specifically set aside.
Set a timer to keep yourself accountable and on schedule for the time that you have set aside, and get back to work as soon as it goes off.
Continue to make progress towards your goals throughout the day, and keep rewarding every small accomplishment to help keep yourself motivated.
11. Get Some Outside Motivation
It can be difficult to get into the right mindset for success, and it certainly isn’t something that you can learn overnight. Getting into the proper mindset requires you to have repeated exposure to teachings that align with the workplace habits that you are aiming to develop.
A great shortcut to this process involves listening to motivational talks throughout the day by inspiring speakers who are able to give you the boost you need to reinforce your motivation and drive.
Here are two ways to do this:
Search for shows that are related to the positive habit that you want to develop, and spend some time listening to a few of the results that come up. Then you can subscribe to your favorites and keep up with them whenever they post something new.
2. Listen to TED talks.
These are also great motivational tools to help you learn from people who are already successful in what you are trying to accomplish. Discover new TED talks on a daily basis and watch any that have been recommended for you to see if they strike a nerve in your brain that ignites some motivation.
12. Keep Track of Your Progress and Success
Keep a clear record of your accomplishments so you can refer back to them and see the progress that you are making. When people lose motivation, they often end up procrastinating on their work. It can be difficult to keep your momentum up when it doesn't feel like you are making any progress.
One way to fight this is to meticulously track your progress on your goals. If you ever feel like your motivation is slipping or you are searching for excuses to put off work, you can then look back on your past successes and progress to see how far you have come.
Write down all of your long-term S.M.A.R.T. goals and find a way to quantify each goal into a specific daily action.
For example, if you want to be able to complete a marathon within the next year, set smaller goals to keep pushing yourself to be able to run farther throughout the year. Commit to these smaller goals every day, and keep a record of your progress so you can monitor your accomplishments.
Use the Coach.me app or other habit-specific app useful for your goal.
Make sure to update and analyze your progress each day before going to sleep so you can keep up the momentum for the following day. Each week, review your progress to achieve your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
13. Practice Patience
Instant gratification is always appealing, but in order to be successful, you need to learn how to put off the need to see results right away.
Sometimes, if you don't see progress being made, it is easy to give up and think that your goal is impossible. However, part of tracking your progress requires practicing the patience that is needed to see the results that you want.
Any results that are worth a lot of hard work will also take some time to happen. Great results don’t happen quickly, so it is important to be patient while you slowly work through your projects. Take the necessary time to do things the right way.
There are a few things you can keep in mind to help you do this:
1. Understand that it will take some time to get the results that you want.
When you start a new routine, you are not likely to see instant results, and need to instead recognize the incremental improvements that you make over time.
2. Remember to recognize and celebrate any small wins.
Throughout the process of building your new skill, you will achieve breakthroughs that deserve to be rewarded. While you may not yet have achieved your long-term goal, it is important to take the time to celebrate each milestone to help keep yourself motivated, and maintain your drive to keep going and finish your project.
3. Be prepared to hit some plateaus along the way.
While it may not always seem like you are making forward progress, working through plateaus is actually a form of progression. During these times, you need to accelerate your efforts.
4. Follow the 80/20 rule when you need to accelerate your efforts.
Identify the 80% of activities that you are doing each day that give you the best results, and the 20% of activities that seem to be wasting time. Then do more of the activities that are helping you, and try to cut back as much as you can on the hindrances.
Work Habits to Improve Your Productivity
14. Do Your MITs First
Leo Babauta introduced a very simple idea to help people increase their productivity. The idea is to identify your MITs (most important tasks) and get them out of the way in the morning. This way, no matter what else you get accomplished that day, your MITs will be completed.
1. Every morning, pinpoint the three tasks that have the biggest impact on your success.
2. Prioritize this list so you complete the most critical task first and move on from there.
3. Make sure that two of these tasks are directly related to a current project that you are working on, and one task is part of a long-term goal. Also, one of your daily MITs should be a habit that you want to complete every day.
4. Start working on your first MIT as soon as you wake up, and don't stop until it is completed.
5. Continue on to complete your second and third MITs so you are then able to spend the remainder of the day working on things that are still important, but not critical to your success.
15. Relate Every Action to a S.M.A.R.T. Goal
Make sure that everything you do is somehow related to one of your goals. Before starting something, determine how it fits in with your long-term plans.
If you are able to directly tie the task to a written goal, then make time to do it. However, if you are unable to link a project with one of your long-term goals, then consider delegating it to somebody else, or completely eliminate it.
Making clear goals is your first step to fighting procrastination. Being able to prioritize your tasks and identify what is important helps create a framework for your daily routine. This will keep you from getting stuck on a specific task because you will be able to identify how each action fits in with your long-term goals.
By regularly setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, you will never find yourself working on a project that will not benefit your mission. S.M.A.R.T. goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These goals can be set for any area of your life and help you define exactly what you want so you are able to know when you reach your goal.
To set your S.M.A.R.T. goals:
1. Think about everything you want to achieve in the next three months and create an action plan for success.
2. Each day, review these goals and analyze your progress. If you find that you are spending time on projects that don't relate to one of your S.M.A.R.T. goals, eliminate it or delegate it to another person.
3. Evaluate your overall success after three months to see where you could have made improvements, and where you were really able to excel.
4. Moving forward, create new goals for the future that are even more challenging, and continue to prioritize your daily activities to ensure that you are always working towards your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
16. Say “No” to Low-Priority Activities
Don't be afraid to turn down requests to work on projects that don't align with your objectives. While we all have to spend some time doing things we do not want to do, often we agree to projects because we don’t want to disappoint others.
Don't make it a workplace habit to always agree to things that are asked of you. Rather, only spend your time working on the projects that directly relate to your purpose.
This does not mean that you are making excuses to get out of helping other people. It simply means that you have a valid point of not having the capacity to spend time on a task that is not your priority.
People are often hesitant to say “no” because of the fear of the reaction from other people when you’re insinuating that their priorities are not your own.
Here’s a process that will help you get over this fear so you can optimize your time at work:
1. Identify the mandatory tasks. Don't waste your time trying to get out of doing things that must be done. Instead, accept that there are some things that you simply have to do no matter how much you don’t want to, and get them done.
2. Analyze each request that is presented to you against your current priorities and projects.
3. Be up front. If someone requests you to do something and you know there is no chance that you will follow through, don't waste your time or theirs by pushing them off. Tell them right away that you are unable to help.
4. Remain polite. Even though you are refusing to help someone, try to end the conversation on a positive note so they are not left with the impression that you are always unwilling to help.
17. Use the 80/20 Rule to Make Decisions
Vilfredo Pareto came up with this principle to show that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. This means that most of your progress comes from only a handful of the tasks that you do. Once you are able to identify the 20% of your efforts that are making an impact, you can focus on these actions and proactively ignore the rest.
You can use the 80/20 rule to fight procrastination because it will help you to stop wasting time on tasks that are not getting you anywhere.
This can be done using this five-step process:
1. Identify the 80/20 tasks. Single out the tasks that are generating 80% of your results. Having this information will help you make the decisions you need to make in order to be productive.
2. Ask yourself if each of your tasks helps or hurts your 80% activities. This simple question can help you to eliminate tasks that are essentially wasting your time.
3. Eliminate or delegate any activity that isn’t bringing you satisfaction or a measurable result. You can either delegate the activity to someone else or completely eliminate it.
4. Don’t add—substitute. If you are presented with a new project and feel that it is important enough to spend time on, then eliminate a low-value activity to create time for your new project.
5. Practice “creative procrastination.” When you know a project isn’t helping to generate 80% of your results, then put it aside and add it to a “someday” list.
18. Work During Your Most Productive Hours
While there are numerous benefits to waking up early, you may not naturally be a morning person who excels before the sun comes up.
Perhaps you are a night owl who gets your boost of energy at midnight and can work well into the evening hours.
The key here is to identify when you are the most productive, and maximize that time. A critical workplace habit is to be intentional in the work you do and to finish your most important tasks during your most productive time of day.
1. Keep a journal for a week of the times of day when you feel the most energized and productive.
2. Once you have identified your "sweet spot," spend this time completing the most important thing on your to-do list. Examine your business closely to determine the “one thing” that produces the biggest results, and do it during your peak hour.
3. Before beginning each day, determine the one thing that you need to get accomplished in order to look back on the day as being a success. Make sure this task is finished.
4. Use the rest of your workday to complete other tasks that produce the best results for your business.
19. Block Time
Use a time-blocking method to avoid multitasking and distractions so you can work uninterrupted, completely focused on one specific task during each block of time. This will allow you to take control of your time and complete your most important tasks.
The Pomodoro Technique is one way to effectively block your time.
1. Start by creating a list of activities in order of priority that you want to complete for the day, or during a specific block of time.
2. Then, set a timer for 25 minutes and begin working on the first task until the timer goes off.
3. Follow this with a five-minute complete mental break where you set a timer and allow yourself to get up and walk away from the task.
4. After you have completed your first Pomodoro and taken your break, start the second Pomodoro by picking up where you left off on your task list.
5. Repeat this process throughout the day until your most important tasks are completed.
6. Be sure to take longer breaks after completing every four Pomodoros to prevent you from getting burnt out.
20. Batch Similar Routine Tasks
This is similar to time blocking in the sense that you can lump similar tasks together and do them in batches to be more efficient.
Grouping small, similar responsibilities together can make it easier to get into the habit of completing these jobs since doing one small thing can trigger the next task in the batch. Perform your small tasks in a logical sequence to help you get in the habit of remembering to do each thing.
This will help to decrease procrastination since you will not have to think about what to do next as you simply move through the small tasks on your list. Knocking them out together will help free up more time and give you more mental focus to devote to finishing bigger tasks.
For example, batch the daily task of checking email to only twice a day. This way, it will not continue to interrupt you throughout the day.
Similarly, schedule an office day each week where you can set aside a specific amount of time to take care of miscellaneous tasks that come up during the week.
21. Single-Handle Processes and Projects
Rather than trying to multi-task, a better work habit is to focus on closing loops on your projects as soon as possible. Each day, take immediate action on every task that comes across your path in order to get it out of the way.
When you try to do multiple projects at one time, you likely will feel like you are doing a lot of work, when in reality you are getting nothing significant done at all. The more effective strategy is to focus on completing one project before starting another. Not only will this habit help you get more accomplished, it will also help to keep your motivation levels high for upcoming tasks.
Single-handling is also an effective strategy for long-term projects. If you get out of the habit of picking up multiple things at the same time—or even smaller, unrelated tasks when you are trying to accomplish a larger goal—you will be more successful.
- Prioritize your projects according to when they must be completed.
- Don't start on a project until you’re committed to completing it.
- Each week, analyze your current project priorities to avoid the risk of falling into the trap of trying to do too much at once.
22. Schedule a Weekly and Monthly Review
In David Allen’s Getting Things Done, he urges his readers to do a weekly review of their upcoming projects to help prevent procrastination. This easy process allows you to look at the upcoming week and schedule the projects that you want to accomplish.
A great time to do this is while you are reviewing your notes from your idea capture mechanism and going through new paperwork.
To do this, set aside a specific time each week to review three questions about your obligations:
1. What are my personal obligations?
2. What are my priority projects?
3. How much time do I have?
Schedule a specific time during the upcoming week to get each item accomplished. During this time, also take action on any two-minute tasks, and create reminders to follow up on any non-actionable ideas. It is important to continue to do this weekly review in order to stay organized, even if you are going through a slow period.
Doing a larger monthly review is another way to keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. This larger review will help you see what’s working, what’s not, and how things can be improved. This will help you “course-correct” any tasks that are not producing results.
Be sure to review your S.M.A.R.T. goals, adding new projects you’d like to pursue and deleting projects that don't benefit you. For each new project that you want to take on, create a detailed list of what needs to be done in order to accomplish it. Don't forget to ask your 80/20 questions to help eliminate the tasks that don’t have a significant impact on your life.
23. Create a Sense of Urgency
While you don't want to rush yourself, it is important to have a sense of urgency when you are doing your work so you are able to complete projects faster and be more efficient. Even if you have a week to complete a project, make a habit of getting it done as quickly as you can.
To do this, create self-imposed deadlines. Challenge yourself to do things at a faster pace because often a task will take as much time as you give it. Don't neglect your time-blocking techniques to help complete your work uninterrupted.
24. Keep Multiple Lists
As we mentioned earlier, unless you write everything down, you are likely to forget many of the great ideas that pop into your head. Also, attempting to store everything in your head can be very stressful and overwhelming. When you are trying to remember everything you have to do, your mind is never fully focused on the task at hand.
In order to combat this, create and maintain multiple lists for the different areas of your life. Here are five steps for managing your time with lists:
1. Keep project lists for every area of your life in a central location so you will remain organized.
2. Break down large tasks into smaller tasks, and write down each step. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, use filters in your lists to show only the tasks you need to complete on a specific day.
3. Set specific deadlines to create a sense of urgency, even if there isn’t an actual deadline for a task.
4. Constantly evaluate your project list. If you notice certain projects have been on your list for a very long time, decide whether or not you want to keep focusing on them.
5. Keep checklists for routine activities to force yourself to take action, especially if the routine tasks are easy to complete.
Work Habits to Build Your Reputation and Network
25. Focus on Your Strengths
If you focus on your weaknesses, you will waste time working on tasks that will never be done as well as they would be if you left them up to an expert. In fact, the time you waste on them could have been better spent working on things that you do better than anyone else.
To illustrate this point, let’s talk about Chris Ducker and his 3 Lists to Freedom concept. Create a table with three columns:
- one column listing the things you hate doing on a day-to-day basis
- a second column listing the things you are struggling with
- a third column listing the tasks you may enjoy, but that aren’t the best use of your time and could be better done by someone else.
Doing this will help you to focus on your strong points and spend your time only doing things that you excel at doing, so no project is completed poorly.
26. Maintain Proper Hygiene and a Professional Appearance
In order to have a successful career, it is important to present yourself in a professional way. This workplace habit will influence how your boss and co-workers see you. This will help you present a professional appearance at work, and benefit your personal health and comfort.
Make sure to keep up with your daily hygiene by showering, grooming your hair, using deodorant, and brushing your teeth every day. Dress professionally, and make sure you are always within the guidelines of your workplace's dress code. Also, make sure to keep up with long-term health maintenance by scheduling regular dental and physician checkups so your health is always in the front of your mind.
27. Help Others
When you help other people, you will actually end up helping yourself as well. For example, doing regular volunteer work can help you improve your social and relationship skills, especially if you are shy and need to work on your ability to initiate conversations with people.
Doing this will help you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet, which can also be a source of friendship, business contacts, or other types of connections that may be helpful in the future.
Helping out other people will also help you feel less isolated and depressed. Having the opportunity to escape from your normal, day-to-day activities is good for your mental health—and helping other people will make you feel good.
Finally, volunteering can help you learn new knowledge or skills that you can apply to your own life or business.
28. Commit to Learning
Continue to expose yourself to new things on a regular basis, even if you don’t see an immediate benefit. You never know when a new skill will be applicable in your life, so take every opportunity to learn that comes your way.
Here’s an easy five-step process to learning a new skill:
1. Identify and focus on one specific skill that you want to learn.
2. Learn everything you can about this skill.
3. Create an action plan to master this skill.
4. Combine your notes into one coherent whole.
5. Take action each day to reach your goal.
29. Embrace Failure
Own up to your mistakes, and learn from them. Your failures can actually be important stepping-stones on your road to success.
The key is to remember that everyone experiences failure at some time, and it opens up an opportunity for you to learn and do better next time.
Believe it or not, there are four benefits to receiving negative feedback about your work:
1. It helps you develop a standard of excellence.
2. You will learn what people actually think about your product.
3. You will gain a competitive edge.
4. You’ll experience the firsthand results of your tested strategy.
30. Identify Hidden Opportunities
Alter your attitude about unexpected change and look at it as an opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise be there if the seemingly negative situation had not occurred.
Take the time to analyze your past challenges, and use them to gain perspective on your current projects.
For example, train yourself to find the silver lining in anything that comes up unexpectedly so you are able to see the good that can come as a result of the bad.
Start by brainstorming as many items as possible for the following prompt: “If [this bad thing] hadn’t happened, [this good thing] would not have occurred.”
Additionally, prepare yourself for unexpected change by thinking about the worst things that could possibly happen to you, and what you would do if these things occurred.
When you create these contingency plans, you will be better prepared for potential disasters in your life.
31. Believe in Yourself
In order to have a successful career, you need to believe in yourself. Without self-confidence, you’re less likely to try new things, take risks, or even seek out that next client.
The truth is, if you don’t believe in yourself, it will be hard for other people to have confidence in your abilities as well.
Create a strategy to improve your mood during periods of doubt:
- Keep a record of positive things that people say about you that you can refer to when you are feeling insecure.
- If you need to build up a bank of your positive traits, send an email to 25 of the people who know you best, asking them to describe what they think you do best.
- Keep all of the responses in a file to refer to when needed, along with self-affirmations that you believe are your strengths.
- Surround yourself with positive people who will not tear you down. Keep friends and business associates who you find to be inspirational and who can help you achieve your best self.
- Set realistic goals that are not so high they’re impossible to reach. This will keep you from feeling as if you failed when you are not able to accomplish impossible tasks that you set out to do.
Remember to expect failure at some point in your life, and take those opportunities to learn and get back up to try again.
32. Network and Build Connections
We are all responsible for doing our own work, but in order to have a successful career, you will need the help and expertise of other people.
In order to have this help available to you, you have to constantly manage your network of people, and work to grow and strengthen it. This may involve reaching out to someone in your industry each day, and committing to networking events that will help you develop these relationships.
If you are able to find opportunities to help other people, they will likely do the same for you in return. Work to create a solid group of people that you can surround yourself with that have goals that align with your own.
Facebook and LinkedIn are great resources to connect with like-minded people who you can develop mutually beneficial business relationships with.
Remember that it is best to meet people in person and not always resort to technology for communication. Aim to have a face-to-face meeting with someone at least once a week, and become active in "Meetup" opportunities and market-specific conferences.
33. Keep Your Promises and Be Punctual
It is an important business practice to keep the promises that you make to other people so they see you as being dependable.
One important way of developing this habit is to think carefully before you agree to commitments. It is best to initially decline to commit to something and later be able to come back and follow through with the task than to make a promise that you will not be able to keep. It is also better to commit to fewer obligations than it is to make weak promises that often fall through.
Make sure that you are always able to show up on time for your commitments. This will also show people that they are able to depend on you. When you have a meeting scheduled, give yourself a 15-minute buffer to account for anything unexpected that may come up.
Finally, if you are unable to keep a promise, it is important that you address it and own up to it. Apologize to anyone that has been affected, and don’t make excuses. Take some time to reflect on why you failed to keep your promise so that you can fix the underlying issue and never do it again.
34. Be a Leader, not a Micromanager
It is a critical workplace habit to develop positive relationships with people who are working with you and for you. When you micromanage your team members, they will feel as if they are not trusted to do their assigned jobs. While your team members probably value your input, giving constructive feedback is very different from micromanaging people and telling them how to do their jobs.
1. A good leader inspires and encourages team members to do their best work by assigning tasks that are in line with their individual strengths. It is best to acknowledge these strengths when assigning tasks so people feel encouraged in their ability to be successful.
2. Leaders also set clear expectations about what is needed so their subordinates know what their missions are, and feel free to come forward with questions.
3. Leaders create a vibrant and positive working environment to help team members do their best work. This should include giving praise where it is due, and even offering rewards to people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Always trust that your team is doing their assigned job to prevent yourself from slipping into a micromanagement role.
If someone happens to make a mistake, work on how you can remedy the mistake for the future and avoid having it happen again. Ruminating on the mistake will prove to be a waste of time, and will likely make your team member feel defeated.
If you do find that you have a tendency to micromanage, admit this to your team members, and tell them that you are committed to doing a better job at letting go and trusting them to do their best work. It is then crucial that you stick to this promise so your team can continue to have faith in you.
35. Know How to Speak
If you are able to articulate yourself properly, people will view you as being trustworthy and dependable. Alternatively, if you are not able to properly communicate, people will start to believe that you don't know what you are talking about.
Of course, not everyone is a strong public speaker. However, whether this seems fair or not, people will judge you based on your ability to properly communicate your thoughts and ideas.
If you feel like public speaking is one of your weaknesses, look into networking events and conferences where you can speak with like-minded people and practice your elevator pitch on those who will listen. This "elevator pitch" should be a summary of your business that can be given in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. Keep it precise and to the point, which will help you become comfortable talking about what you do.
You can also join Toastmasters or take a public speaking class to force yourself into a situation where you have to speak in public and get direct feedback on your performance. Then, find every opportunity you can to face your fear by asking people to interview you, or reaching out and offering to talk about what your business has to offer.
36. Learn to Listen
If people offer you constructive criticisms and feedback, take them to heart so you can learn and improve. Aside from verbal feedback, pay attention to people's body language to get a feel for how they are interpreting what you are saying.
Speaking is only a portion of the communication process, and is often less valuable than listening. Have you ever interacted with someone who talks so much that you can't get a word in? If so, you probably recall looking for a way to escape the conversation as soon as you could.
A few tips on active listening:
- Don’t be the person who says so much that you actually say nothing at all.
- Learn how to actively listen by asking relevant questions of your speaking partner and welcoming any feedback that they have to offer.
- Offer the person you are talking to both verbal and visible cues that you are listening. This requires looking them in the eye and nodding to indicate that you understand what they are saying.
This does not mean that you are a pushover, but rather that you have interest in what other people are saying because you see an opportunity to learn from them and use their information to make your business more successful.
Ask for feedback on your work, and listen when it is being given. It is important to remember that other people may have knowledge or insight that you have yet to learn, so it is best to take the time to absorb what they are saying.
If you do struggle with listening, work on this skill by listening to a short audio clip and then writing down what you remember at the end of the clip. Play back the audio and see how much you were able to remember and write down. Not only will this develop your listening skills, it’ll also sharpen your memory.
Are you ready to accelerate your success?
Make it happen by knowing what you need to do to get yourself organized and on the right path. Begin by practicing these strategies enough so they become habits that are second nature to you.
Never stop reaching higher. Look at each accomplishment as one step on a path to a long and fulfilling career. As long as you are aware of your long-term goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them, you can continue to be upwardly mobile in your career, and live a successful life.
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