Friday, November 20, 2009

Changing the Way You Think About Work

Many of us may be far from it. We work our whole lives to achieve it. As I say the word retirement, I sigh deeply. There is some sense of freedom in thinking about retirement. I had a conversation with one of my mentors who contacted a government office for help on an issue. Everyone was pleasant, helpful and went above and beyond the normal call of duty for customer service. She asked how she could go about submitting a letter of appreciation, as this kind of behavior is, unfortunately, rare. One of the customer service representatives said, "Do you know why we are all service-oriented"? We are all retirees hired as consultants. It started to make me think about how mentally there is this sense of freedom to have the ability to not take things so seriously. At any moment, any of these consultants could just walk away if they don't like the way things are going. Many of us are not in the fortunate position to walk away, but we can choose our attitude towards work while we are there. Here are ways to think differently about work.

  1. Find your purpose. Most of us work to earn a paycheck, but there isn't a whole lot of depth to just focus on the money aspect. Some have to believe in what they are doing. Some want the next level of promotion. Some want to become more skilled in what they are doing. Whatever it is, find your purpose.

  2. Treat others with respect and kindness. There is a quote that I read in the Quotable Quotes section of Readers Digest. "If there is one thing that I've learned in all my years of working, its that we should be nicer to one another."-artist unknown.

  3. Keep a level head. Work can be very demanding and stressful. People can get pretty tense in situations and sometimes need a little guidance on seeing the positive side of situations. I challenge myself to try and help others be positive. Negativity just makes things worse and even more stressful.

  4. Write down your goals. It's good to have short range and long range goals. When there are tough situations, keep the focus on your goals.

  5. Become outcome-oriented. After spending a lot of time in meetings that lacked direction, I have found going into a meeting with a desired outcome ensures that the meeting is productive. I am not a proponent of having meetings just to have meetings. Meetings should be evaluated to see if it is worth the effort to gather a group of people together and spend time having a discussion.

  6. As one of my mentors said, "Keep it Simple". Understand what you can control and what you can't control. I have talked with many people who get frustrated over things they can't control. When this happens, I try to redirect them to their goals and to keep the focus on what they can control.

  7. Evaluate if this is what you enjoy doing. People shouldn't be miserable in their jobs. If you find it difficult to be positive or you flat out do not like your job, figure out if you should really be doing this for a living. Position yourself and make the necessary changes to put yourself into a job that you enjoy.

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