Have you ever had a conversation like this with a friend?
You say “It’s so good to see you! How are you?”
And you expect a nice conversation, but she hangs her head and responds, “I’m ok,” -- as if Eeyore has taken over her body.
And now they are ready to vent. For example:
“My boss is such a jerk. Last week he kept me late and I missed a dinner with my parents. Then in front of the whole team he yelled at me for a mistake I didn’t make. It was awful. I felt like crawling underneath the table. Then...”
What if you could help them make their year into something incredible?
I believe the key to building a great career is to learn how to break down goals into steps and implement them using a “When and How” technique. I explain this a little more in depth in my free Unlock Your Passions email course.
We all have to stop seeing our careers as a big mountain that we are afraid to tackle or improve on. We need to see that small steps will add up to resume improvements that can lead to more respect, money, and appreciation for our work over the course of a year.
So the next time you have thoughts about your own career or a conversation like this with a friend about their career, try asking yourself or them these questions:
1. If you could do just one thing to improve your career in the next 30 days what would it be?
Whether you ask yourself or a friend this question it’s important to get to the heart of your “why”. When you understand why you want to improve this part of your career you will find it easier to take action and follow it through to the end.
For example if you want to improve your writing skills then what could you do over the next 30 days to make this happen?
You could go to the library and take out two books on writing. You could write an article for one of your favorite blogs and send it to them to see if they will publish it. You could take a night class on writing at your local university.
Once they answer, ask them:
2. When can you schedule a block of time to start doing this one thing?
This is the first part of the “When and How” technique. Once you schedule the start of a task or project to do this week, ask yourself how you will do it.
The “How” is just as important as the “When” because when you can imagine how you will do the work then you'll find it easier to take action, and you'll also find are 90% more likely to finish the task.
You will break down the steps it takes to improve your writing skills over the next 30 days.
Step 1: Research best book for the type of writing you want to improve.
Step 2: Go to library to check it out or buy book.
Step 3: Schedule time to read the book every day.
Step 4: Create a plan for next month on how you can put this learning into action.
The 3rd step is where the “when” and “how” will help the most. You need to know when is the best time for you to find block of time to read the book. The “how” will help you visualize how you will actually do the task. Your how might be… I’m going to make myself a cup of tea every night at 9pm and read my book until 9:30pm. The more you can see yourself enjoying this project the easier it will be to get yourself to take action.
The next question is my favorite part out of these steps:
3. How will you make this fun and rewarding?
When you ask yourself how you will make it fun to do, you may have to be a little creative and might even need your help coming up with ideas, but follow through on coming up with a reward. You’ll be glad you did because you’ll stay focused on getting each part of the task done, which will help build stronger habits and you’ll be much more likely to see the task all the way through.
For example, I schedule my writing time in a coffee shop to write this blog post. Before I start I envision myself working at a table with the noise of people visiting and drinking coffee all around me, and I smile at how much work I’m getting done. You see how I’m applying the when and how here?
Then after I finish, I plan my 20 minute walk around the neighborhood to just relax and recharge. This reward helps keep me focused on my work so I can enjoy myself after I’m done.
Sometimes the hard part of this process is that your own fears will bubble up. Just let them go for the moment and be there for yourself and/or your friend. When you are able to keep an emotional distance you won’t let your fear hold you back.
What type of reward will help you reinforce your ability to chip away at this project every single day?