By Arianna Campbell, Boomer Consulting, Inc.
We have reached the midyear point when people may not be feeling as motivated as they were months ago when New Year's resolutions were being made. The good news is that there is still time to make the most of the remaining year. Here are a few suggestions on how to get reenergized and refocused in your professional role.
Where do you see yourself ten years from today? This is a question that we have all heard many times before, but it is surprising how many people have not given careful consideration to the answer. I challenge you to set aside at least ten minutes (or more if possible) to give this some thought. You may be tempted to focus solely on your career goals, but while this is a significant motivating factor, it is important to remember that we are more than just our work. There are many different life factors that impact your ability to achieve your career aspirations, and most realistic goals will have a combination of personal and professional items. This combination leads to work-life balance which can reduce stress and improve your job performance and personal satisfaction.
As you think about where you see yourself in ten years, consider your future position in the following areas: career, family, health, education, and finances. Ask those who will be most affected by your plans for their input and advice. They will have good insight on the reality of your plan, and they will also be prepared to offer support in the short and long term. After you have identified your ten-year vision, think about what you need to do right now and by five years from now to achieve those goals. Commit to your plans in writing and review your plans at least annually to ensure that you are making progress.
Communicating your goals increases your commitment and motivation to follow through in your actions. Identify a peer at your firm, or in the industry, who can be an accountability partner who can review your written goals and help keep you on track. Sharing your professional aspirations with your manager can help you refine your goals and confirm your direction. Depending on your firm culture, the thought of sharing your career ambitions with your supervisor may be intimidating. If you are uncomfortable doing this, you could start the conversation by scheduling time with your manager to discuss where he or she sees you with the firm in five and ten years (this question could also be asked during a performance review). The response will give you an opportunity to see how your goals compare and allow you to share your thoughts if appropriate.
Asking for feedback and being open to constructive criticism also provide motivation. Proactively seeking feedback will help you improve and grow both professionally and personally. The Five Star Academy has a very simple and effective exercise called Ascertaining Satisfaction that involves scheduling an appointment with a peer to ask two questions: "What do I do well?" and "What could I do better?" Asking these two simple questions from several of your peers will give you valuable insight on changes you could make to improve.
Continual learning is an excellent way to stay challenged and motivated. Take advantage of internal and external training and learning opportunities. Attend firm "lunch and learns," watch training videos, and utilize firm resources. Research online opportunities like newsletters, videos, websites, webinars, and other tools that can help you grow in your current position.
You can also learn by stepping out of your comfort zone. We tend to feel safe in doing what is familiar, but this can also become boring and lead to a lack of motivation. Accept a bigger responsibility or volunteer for a project that forces you to stretch beyond your normal capabilities.
Motivation can also be found from those around you – starting with the people in your firm. Build relationships with the people you work with. Get to know them and be aware of their areas of expertise, because this may provide future opportunities for idea generation or collaboration. Also make external connections through peer-sharing groups like the Boomer Technology Circles or the Talent Development Advantage , industry associations, and conferences to leverage the value found in sharing best practices and lessons learned.
In addition to networking with peers, connecting with a mentor is a rewarding way to stay motivated and accountable to your goals. No matter what phase of life you are in, a mentor can be a benefit. The ideal person will provide an honest perspective, give sound advice, encourage you to grow, have your best interest in mind, and take the time to listen and provide feedback. This will also be someone who you look up to and respect. If you do not have a mentor, consider seeking out the right person and starting this mutually beneficial relationship.
Staying motivated is essential to staying ahead. Take the time to consider your goals, communicate your plans to those around you, and be open to constructive criticism. After your direction is reconfirmed, keep the momentum going through learning and networking. All of these efforts will work together to make the rest of your year a success.
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