Practical Career Tips: How to Kick @$$ at Work

There’s a ton of career advice out there. Some of it is great, and some of it doesn’t apply to anything ever. Over the course of my career I have been blessed to work under some amazing people. Throughout this time I’ve been able to pick up on their skills and have fine-tuned my own abilities. I’ve had many jobs and I’ve worked with a lot of different personalities. It might have taken me a while to find my groove (and the right job for that matter), but I am definitely confident in my abilities today.

Here are a few of the best practical career tips I’ve ever received, along with the things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Find Your Focus

Be self aware enough about what you need to stay focused. When I tried to give up coffee my productivity level went down the drain. There’s no shame in needing the extra caffeine to kick start your morning. Can’t focus while listening to pop music? Switch to lyric-less playlists on Songza or Spotify. Can’t concentrate with a messy desk? Get in early to clean it. You know what you need to be productive. Make that happen.

2. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

The best mentors I’ve ever had acknowledge and embrace this fact more than any other. It’s imperative to always be learning, so have an open mind and be receptive to both criticism and compliments. Embrace new ideas, and remember to take every experience for what it is: an experience. Whether it’s good or bad, it is an experience that you can get through and an experience that you can learn from.

3. Work Hard in Silence; Let the Success do the Talking

You know how I know you’re not the best, most competent employee? Because you keep telling me you’re the best, most competent employee. People who don’t know how to be the person they want to be try and lead you to conclusions about their character right away. They don’t trust you to make your own judgements about them so they try to spoon feed it to you. They know that if you are given the chance to evaluate their character, you probably won’t come to a favorable conclusion.

Successful people don’t talk the talk. They walk the walk in complete silence and let you make your own judgements. Be that person.

4. Have the Right Attitude

Be focused and determined, but don’t be a jerk. No one likes someone who can’t handle their deadlines with grace and positivity. You are responsible for the attitude you bring. Be aware of your personality and how it affects others. No one wants to work with someone who is consistently in a bad mood. Understand that your attitude affects everyone and be a team player about it.

5. Your Lists are Your Life

Having a To-Do List is the most important part of being productive. Enlist the right tools. I have a daily list (in my Day Designer), plus a monthly list. Know your deadlines and plan out how you need to meet them. Spend your day with intention. Get things done!

6. Enlist the Right Support

I don’t mean support from your work colleagues, although they can be very valuable. I mean enlist the right support from your family and friends. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve called my mother for advice, or the amount of times I’ve had to complain to my fiance. But these are the people who know me the best. They know what advice to give or what support to give me. Without being able to openly discuss my work life with them, I’m not sure where I would be.

Regardless of the industry you’re in, these six tips ring true across the board. But most importantly: know yourself. Be honest with yourself. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is an imperative part of life itself. You can’t hope to advance your career or even your love life if you’re not honest about the person you truly are. Once you can find that self-awareness it leads to so much more. Know yourself and the sky is truly the limit.

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