Archive | January, 2012

Your A-Game: How do you Bring it??

30 Jan

Your “A-Game” – you know when you are on it, but how do you bring it on lackluster days?  Is it even possible to turn around a bad day?  Let me know what you think!

 

Today I had a classic case of “The Mondays.”  It was just one of those days that felt like I was in a daze.  I wasn’t able to express my thoughts well so I just tried to avoid most types of conversation.  I felt like my work was confusing, even though I know I have complete control over everything I needed to finish today.  At the end of the day my brain felt exhausted and I felt like I accomplished nothing.  Worst.  Feeling.  Ever.

How do you bring your A-Game even if you didn’t start out the day with it?

How do you pull yourself out of a funk?  I randomly asked a few people this question and these were the responses I got:
–  hit the gym
– find caffeine
– make a To Do list and get organized

How do you do it?  Comment, message me, anything!  Maybe something that works for your will work for me, too!

January Reflection: Finding Value in My Work (Every Day)

25 Jan

This past month I’ve spent each day focusing on finding value in my work.  Before I started this exercise, I tended to get lost in the repetition of my daily tasks.  Although I’ve enjoyed my job so far, I started to let negativity impact the way I saw my role on the team.  Luckily I had a “wakeup call” and realized that I needed to change my attitude.  I’ve already felt a change in myself as I started to take myself, my positive attitude, and my career path more seriously.   Finding value in my work has helped me find value in my life as a whole.  This was a great first step in my year-long journey.  These are some things I’ve learned throughout the month:

I am young and nothing is beneath me.  I graduated from college with the expectation that I would automatically do high-level work.  News flash – no one starts out as a manager.  Regardless of my previous unrealistic expectations, I have come to the realization that my career has just begun.  I am going to be doing the work that no one else with experience wants to do and that’s okay.  If I get to do something that’s fun, I should appreciate it because that is a privilege and not a right.

It is my responsibility to find value in my work and use what I learn to move forward in my career.  If I can’t find value in my work, who will?  It is solely up to me to recognize the importance of the things I am learning and create a path for myself on my own.  I can’t expect anyone to have a plan in mind for me.  My career path is 100% in my own hands.  I need to use this time to learn as much as I can and build my brand.  If I know what I want and what I’m working towards, I won’t let myself end up in a bad situation again.  Only I know what is going to make me happy; I need to trust that I’ll lead myself in the right direction.

I need to be present and engaged at work every single day.  Have you ever driven to work and forget how you got there?  Sometimes it’s really easy to just switch to autopilot when you are doing something that you do every single day.  It’s never okay to be on autopilot at work.  You can’t just “go through the motions” every day if you expect to do a great job.  Even if what I am doing isn’t Rocket Science, it’s a stepping stone towards my future.  I don’t want to wake up again in 3-5 years and not remember how I got there.  I need to be present in the moment and engaged in my work.

The more I look at the big picture, the happier I am.  My goal for this month was to wake up and start paying attention to my life.  I’ve done a lot of “big picture” thinking recently and it has already paid off.  I feel happier in my job than I did when I first started.  The best part is that I am aware of all of the challenges but I feel like I am ready to accept them because I value what I am learning right now.

It is okay to take myself seriously.  For way too long I’ve felt like people would laugh at me if I took myself seriously.  I built up a barrier over the years that forced me to disregard my feelings.  Taking myself seriously doesn’t mean that I think I am more important than others.  It means that I know that I have something to offer to the world besides carbon dioxide.  Although it is going to take a long time to break down that barrier, I think I’ve started on the right track with this blog.  I am extremely appreciative of all of the feedback I’ve gotten so far, it makes me feel like I am doing the right thing.

I am really looking forward to everything I am going to learn about myself over the next 11 months!

 

Top 10 Lowlights of Last Year

24 Jan

One way to find value in what you are doing now is to remember where you were just one year ago.  Last night I put together a list of my Top 10 Lowlights as a way of remembering just how bad it was and just how good I have it now.

This exercise actually worked so well that, in an effort to remain professional, I can’t actually post it.  I came up with so many lowlights that I had trouble sleeping.  To some extent I think may have actually blocked out a lot of the experience because of how traumatic it was for me.  Remembering some of the bad stories really brought me back to a different time in my life.  I am so happy that time is over.  These are some of the challenges that made last year so difficult for me:

  • Living alone in a rural area 2 hours away from my nearest friends and family – 5 hours from my boyfriend
  • Working in an environment that lacked teamwork
  • Not being able to use my strengths on the job
  • Working long hours – even overnight shifts
  • Feeling completely unprepared and out of control
  • Having performance goals that were completely numbers based
  • Conflict of values with the company and store
  • Being expected to know everything without any training
  • Having multiple negative interactions with unhappy customers per day
  • Depression

The list is pretty much never ending.  As hard as it was to think back to some of those experiences, it helped me really appreciate how great my life is right now.  I can go through every single one of those bullet points and comment on how things have improved.

Clearly this exercise doesn’t apply to everyone, but if it does, I dare you to do it too.

Article: 11 Things to Know at 25ish

22 Jan

My awesome friend Mal passed this article along to me.  Everyone should read it: 11 Things to Know at 25ish

My favorite tip is #11:  Don’t get stuck.

Shauna Niequest says there are two types of people: the ones who used their 20’s to grow and learn about their dreams or the ones who held onto the past.  When you turn 30, how do you want to remember your 20’s?

Don’t get stuck in the past!  Learn from your mistakes and grow.

Finding Value through Looking at the Bigger Picture

18 Jan

My challenge for January was to spend time finding value in the work I complete every day.  Surprisingly enough, it was actually a lot less difficult that I thought.  The key for me was actually looking at the big picture.

It only took me about 5 minutes to come up with a list of 5 tasks that seem to lack value while I am completing them.  These are examples of two of the tasks I’ve chosen to work with throughout this month:

Gathering data to send gift baskets:  I search through a large spreadsheet to find names of people who will receive a gift basket based on certain criteria.  I enter the name into a database to search for their address.  Finally, I put all of the information I collect into another spreadsheet then send it to a company who makes and ships gift baskets.  Typically I will process about 50+ names each time I submit a shipment spreadsheet.

Data entry for payments:  I am sent request forms for payments.  I enter the information into a system to process large checks.  I track all of the payments I submit by entering them (again) into a spreadsheet.

Let’s be real for a minute, does anyone actually enjoy data entry?  I feel like it is the office version of working an assembly line.  You are focusing on one small part of the whole.  I mean how long can a guy assemble passenger-side doors without losing sight of the car?  It clearly only took me about 3 months.

The weird thing is that as soon as I started looking for the value in my work, I was able to find it pretty easily.  After all, I feel that my job is important, even if the tasks I complete each day seem trivial.  My brain might be fried because I’m staring at a few spreadsheets for 4 hours; but somewhere across the United States, someone will receive a gift basket and feel special!  I may never see the basket, but I know it’s there.  It’s called “faith” or something like that.

It’s also called “looking at the bigger picture.”

What have I done differently?

  1. I started a “Work Diary.”  I am now keeping a detailed list of everything I accomplish each month, including my “biggest win” and work that relates to our core values.
  2. I am making a conscience effort to see how my work connects to the end result – hiring someone for their first job
  3. I started looking at the tasks I’m completing now as the “Gen Eds” (thank you Maureen) of my career.  I am learning a lot about the candidate experience as well as the recruiting cycle.  I want to master all of these “prerequisites” so that I can move on to something bigger and even more meaningful.

January Topic: Finding Value in My Work (Every Day)

11 Jan

If Christina from December 2010 met Christina from December 2011, she would be really frustrated.  As intense as my experience was last year, I somehow found myself completely out of touch with reality even four months into my new job.  Even though I enjoy what I’m doing, I often lost sight of the bigger picture.  I function best with a routine, but unfortunately the routine took over my life.  Everyday was somewhat stressful but also very repetitive.  I spent most days preparing for candidates’ interviews and then making sure the interviews ran smoothly.  Luckily, just as the repetition started to annoy to me, the interviews slowed down for the holidays.

Over the holidays I got to spend a lot of time with the new coordinator we hired onto our team.  I was impressed by her because she seemed to have a really great sense of self-awareness.  She asked me a lot of thought-provoking questions that actually woke me up from my routine-driven life.

As we paper-clipped 500+ interview packets together and reorganized the extremely cluttered storage room, we talked about finding value in our work.  She told me to think of these activities as “Gen Eds.”  The higher level stuff will come later and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It took a few seconds to sink it, but I think it is the best analogy I’ve heard in a while.  I mean let’s be honest, what was the real point in those 9 credits I needed to take in Science?  I learned a few cool things about Meteorology, Psychology, and Astronomy then I moved on to the higher level courses.

Epic Button Click

I need to finish my "Gen Eds" before I can move on to higher level work.

I’d like to thank Maureen for my January topic because this is clearly something I need to work on each day!

January: Finding value in my work (every day)

I am still shocked by the results of my poll (Is Your Job Meaningful?).  Maybe I just underestimated how many optimists I know?  Congrats to all of the people who feel that they do something meaningful every day!  It’s so great to know that there are people out there who feel fulfilled by their jobs.

For those of you who feel that you some parts of your current job are not meaningful, I have a challenge for you!  (This challenge also applies to anyone who feels like they are stuck in a routine).

Pick one activity/task that you dislike about your job or your personal life and find value in it.

I’m sure that a lot of people hate grocery shopping, going to the gym, working with customers/clients, or learning how to use a new computer program on the job.  I can already think of a few activities that involve data entry and other repetitive actions.  How do you find value?

  1. Take a step back and think about the big picture
  2. What does the big picture mean to you?
  3. How will this dreaded task get you to where you want to be?

If replying to this post will create accountability for you, feel free to reply (anonymously if you’d like) with the activity you will find value in this month.  Good luck!

My challenge for myself is to pick five activities at work that seem pointless as I am completing them.   I’ll keep everyone updated on my status on this challenge.  The goal is to make this a habit so that I can unconsciously appreciate my role and the skills I am learning from it.

Is your job meaningful?

8 Jan

First let me define what I mean by “meaningful” in terms of tasks you complete each day:  Tasks that require you to use your talents in a way that feels fulfilling at the end of the day.