Winning at Work- How to stay sane at your 9-5
9-5... 5-9 whatever your work schedule is, I am sure you have felt like pulling a Brittney Spears circa 2007 from time to time while working at your job. Lets face it, even the BEST jobs suck sometimes, making us feel tired, overwhelmed and underappreciated.. did I mention, underpaid?
Prior to my latest career transition (i.e. taking a swim in entreprenurship life), I was working in an Executive level position at a nonprofit organization in Georgia. Prior to my stint in reality TV, I have ALWAYS had a job. Within the last 10 years, I have had the opportunity to work in some pretty dope places all because of hard work, determination and networking. I always prided myself in my leadership skills, intelligence and most of all- work ethic.
While I have worked in a few great positions, I have also had some experiences that made me realize that the corporate world is a really sticky, often petty and even abusive space for young women, especially young women of color. I have been blatently disrespected, talked down to, lied on etc. throughout the course of my career and each and every time it has happened, I have learned something new about #1 my value, but #2 how to navigate the ups and downs of well, WORK.
While no job is perfect and navigating office politics is never fun, bills have to be paid and health insurance isn't free yet. Sooooo here are some my go-to roles for navigating your job so you can stay winning at work.
Let Your Work Speak for Itself- Until It Does Not Require an Introduction
I don't care how smart you are or how much experience you have, you must let your work speak for itself. Whether you are entry-level or leadership level in your career, focus on making sure your work speaks for itself. Rather than going out of your way to impress one person (i.e. your boss), focus on proving yourself to EVERYONE you come in contact with. From your co-worker to the janitor, act like every interaction at your job is an important one. I think so often we tend to place too much emphasis on just impressing our superiors when in all actuality their opinion of us accounts for very little.
Get to know your bosses boss, speak kindly to everyone you meet, go out of your way to impress partners or vendors. You will be surprised how simple interactions have the potential to lead to big opportunities.
Invest in Your Own Growth
I say this with kindness and love, it is not your job's responsibility to invest in you. While that may sound harsh, its not meant to be. To really win at work, we must realize that our true WORK is within us. No matter what career level you are at, you should never stop learning and growing. Want to transition into management? attend conferences and empowerment sessions to enhance your skills. Need to become an expert in Microsoft Excel? Take an online class or attend YouTube University. After you have invested the time and effort into growing your own skills, use that to negotiate a raise or a promotion. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN GROWTH!
Work Always Happens After Work
If you want to eventually work for yourself, you must realize that your real work must happen AFTER or BEFORE your work hours. Managing a side hustle, passion project or anything outside of your job responsibilities requires commitment, prioritization and creativity. There is so much more to life than just investing all of your awake hours slaving for someone else. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer that entreprenurship is NOT for everybody, but investing time in things aligned with your purpose and passion is critical. When you are truly working in or on your purpose, you will be happier and more fulfilled. Suddenly, that annoying co-worker or micromanaging boss wont seem as bad because you are focused on something way beyond your JOB. Remember your real WORK starts when your JOB ends. Do not let a job make you neglect your passion or purpose.
Your Co-Workers are Co-Workers, Rarely Friends
In all of my professional positions, I have made very few friends. Its not because I am unfriendly or a bitch, I simply have learned that your job is just a job and I don't like to blur the lines of my personal and professional life. Have I done it before? Yes- and it has rarely turned out well. I think its important to get to know the people you work with, especially since we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our significant partners during the week, but within reason. Be cautious about how much personal information you share with your co-workers. STAY FAR AWAY from petty gossip or negativity. If you do make friends with your co-workers, keep your working hours together focused on your JOB and not your friendship. If things happen to go south in your friendship, remain cordial, respectful and NEVER bring your friendship drama to work (CAN I SAY NEVER LOUD ENOUGH).
Put Your Best Foot Forward Everyday- Self- Care
This one may seem impossible and I appreciate that it may not be possible for all career levels, but if you are sick, grieving, or just burnt-out- take the day off. Common guys, you know I am a self-care champion and I would be crazy to not mention self-care in your workplace. DO NOT OVERWORK yourself for your job. Do not sacrifice your own health and sanity for a job that would and will replace you within 24 hours if needed. As women, we often think that our value is dependent on how hard we work at the expense of ourselves and this is not true. God forbid you were to die tomorrow, your job would replace you with someone else because the work had to get done regardless. If you are sick, take time to recover. If you are feeling burnt-out, communicate your needs with your supervisor. If your job does not respect or value you taking care of yourself, LEAVE and move on to a better opportunity.
Unsure of How You Are Doing? Ask
I cant tell you how many times I thought that I was #killing it at work only to be told that I wasn't doing enough while my effort was going unnoticed. I find it to ALWAYS be a good idea to check-in with your supervisor quarterly to have a deep-dive conversation on deliverables and expectations of you. Instead of initiating the conversation like "What else do you need me to do," try taking the initiative to suggest tasks, projects or learning opportunities that may be outside of your regular job description. If your boss sucks at giving REAL feedback, ask for a status report meeting every 3 months and document it. It may seem overkill, but getting yourself accustomed to having tough, business related conversations is critical to winning at work. If you are met with harsh criticism, do not respond right away. Instead, ask for 24-72 hours to consider the feedback and reflect on an appropriate response.
Guys, I am convinced that NO JOB is perfect and its normal to consider throwing in the towel (and taking up exotic dancing) from time to time. The real key to winning at work is managing your perspective about your job. Instead of thinking about your job as a place you HAVE TO go to, try repositioning your mindset to thinking of your job as a place you are ABLE TO go to. Your job funds your necessities, your real WORK should fuel your passion.
Do you love your job? If you hate your job, how do you manage? How do you manage your side hustle and your 9 to 5? Drop a comment below and let me know.
Until Next Week
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