The most important thing to do as you begin your new career is to define your attitude towards work. How will it contribute towards your career? How will it add value to your role as a career builder?
How do you define attitude?
According to The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English - attitude is defined as "a way of looking at life; a way of thinking, feeling or behaving." Therefore an attitude is not just the way we think, but the way we think, feel and do.
You may have your entire career plan worked out, but if you do not define your attitude to build its foundation on, then before long your plans will crumble. That’s not to say a career plan is not important. In fact, it is very important in achieving career success
What you need to understand is that a positive attitude is even more important. So how do you define your attitude at work? For me, to define my attitude at work means deciding the values that would guide me in my working environment.
Somewhere in my career after the tonnes of self-improvement books I have read, I decided that I needed to define my attitude towards my career. I decided that these three values would be my clear defined attitude towards my career.
I know this is a tricky word. It connotes arrogance especially when one has too high an opinion of oneself. Personally, in defining my attitude - "Pride" is taken to mean self-dignity. Pride prevents you from doing just enough to get by. If you know everything you do at work has your name and signature on it, then you will give it your best shot and nothing less.
Just a simple plain ‘interest’ in any work or career you choose isn’t enough to bring you through the tough times. And trust me, there will be tough times. It could be an unreasonable client or an impossible timeline. However, a burning desire will pull you through these. An intense enthusiasm for all things worth doing will pull you through the toughest times.
In order to generate that passion, it is important to believe. Only a deep belief will create the vigour and force that gives you the fuel to charge. Know that you can achieve all that you set out to do for yourself. You only need to start believing in yourself.
What is your defined attitude you take towards your work? Write them down and begin practicing.
CommitmentBe committed to the work and jobs assigned to you. While in university you may be able to accept a “C” for your paper, it is very different in the working world. Handing in average work to your boss signals to his/her that you do not take your work seriously. It sends a message that you do not care about excellence. Commitment involves sacrifice and discipline to see the work through. It involves working harder than the rest. It is also the difference between a pay raise and a promotion.
ChallengeThere are two parts to this. Part one is - challenge yourself. Whatever you get your hands on, ask yourself how can you make this better than expected? Can you complete it earlier without compromising on quality? Can you add value to it? Part two is - surpass challenges that are thrown your way. I have seen many newbies pursuing career success who use the statement – “I have not done this before’ as an excuse. None of us are born to do the work that we do. So, learn. Ask intelligent questions. Take up the challenge and surpass it.
ConcentrateBe focused. Do not be distracted by other activities in the peripherals. The after office drinks, the sports club and the gossips. This does not mean you cannot join your colleagues in their after office drinks or activities of the sports club. In fact, you should. But as in life, there is a time and place for everything. As a newbie pursuing career success, you need to concentrate on the job assigned and to complete it the best possible. Each task completed with excellence contributes to building a successful career and laying the foundations for long-term success.
Congenial and ConnectBe friendly. No one likes someone who is aloof. Greet people with a joyful and genuine smile. Even the tea lady. As a newbie pursuing career success, you want to have as many friends as possible across departments. When people find you friendly and connect with you they are more willing to help you. If you are lucky, they may even point out a potential mistake you may make as a freshie. When the time is right, this is where you join in the parties and the social events to get to know your colleagues outside of the office environment. But be aware that you are always watched and judged.
ContributeAlways add value to projects you are involved in. Is there a special skill that you bring to the table? If you have been assigned the task, in all likelihood the manager sees your chance in contributing. Make use of that opportunity. Are there any chances for volunteering? While this is a good trait, do so cautiously. For two things, you do not want to volunteer for the wrong things and end up being perceived as inefficient. Two, when you volunteer too much – unethical seasoned managers can exploit your tendency to help. You will end up overworked and not deliver your best. There seems to be many things - pursuing career success needs to possess. Do not be overwhelmed by these tips. In reality, when you internalized these and practice them mindfully – it will appear effortless. It's true - you are your best first career success planner. No one can plan your career success for you unless you have some basic answers yourself already. I am not saying you should be certain about what you want but an inkling would be a great start.
Most of the students do not know what they want.Wanting to be a success is a good start. Now you just have to back track your steps a little and ask the right questions that will guide you to the answers you need. Remember, you are your best career success planner. I am a big believer that we all have the answers within ourselves if we only we ask enough. Of course, that is not to say I deny divine help or otherwise. And that’s not to say I do nothing on my own either. I believe that one does what one can until one’s destiny is revealed.
When giving advice to interns in our company on career success planning, I like to adopt a common planning cycle model. As a career success planner, you should ask yourself these 4 questions. These questions may seem simple or trivial but are thought provoking if you give it the seriousness it deserves.
Where Am I? Why Am I Here? - These are the first set of questions to ask - “Where am I? Why am I here?”. For example, if you currently have a job you do not enjoy, ask yourself how you ended up at that position. Or you may have a job you are happy with right after graduation but would like to move up the corporate ladder. Ask yourself why are you still there?
I once counseled an intern who seemed lost. He had a diploma in engineering and worked in the field for a while. He realized is was not what he enjoyed and went back to school to do communications. This time around he seemed uncertain about his future. The reason why I said he ‘seemed lost’ is because he actually wasn’t. All he needed to do was to refocus on his objective. He needed to answer - Why is he in this particular situation?By answering these questions, you take stock of the situation. You give yourself a diagnosis of the situation and condition you are in before you can prescribe a solution for yourself. Sometimes, it even forces you to refocus on your original objective, which you may have forgotten as in the case of the intern.
Where Can I Be? - To go somewhere, you must have a destination. And as a career success planner it is no different. “Where can I be?” forces you to think about your destination of choice. Is it a promotion to a new position you want? Or is it a transfer to another department? Or would you like to move out of the industry? This destination must be clear in your mind as we are now in the prescriptive stage of your career success planning. As a career success planner you should see this clearly.In the case you cannot, make some assumptions and do an experiment with the rest of the planning stage. I find that sometimes playing around with thoughts can help crystallize what you want faster. Consider your skills and knowledge that can bring you there. Think about your values and aspirations also. Another important thing to consider are your attitudes and beliefs.
How Can I Get There? - Now that you know where you want to go, it is time to think about preparing for the journey there. As a career success planner, this is one key part of that planning. It can also be the longest depending on how long term is the plan. Assuming you plan to be the CEO of the company, obviously there is a lot more you need to do on “How can I get there?” At this stage, you need to prepare the skills and knowledge. Think about the training that you need both formal and informal. What about your attitude? For example, do you have a success mind set? Do you have positive attitude towards work? Consider your strengths and weaknesses. Are there any weaknesses you need to strengthen? What are some of the opportunities to excel along the way?
Am I Getting There? - No career success planner is complete without an evaluative stage. This is the segment where you give yourself periodical evaluation about your plan. Is each of your plans slowly contributing to the bigger goals? If it is not, what is it you need to enhance?
Force yourself to ask these simple yet deep questions and you will end up as your own best career success planner.