It’s the beginning of a new year, and you’re probably thinking about all the things you will do differently this year. We frequently hear about resolutions that focus on looking for a new career path, finding a great hobby, or putting that gym membership to good use.
I’d like to challenge you in a different way. I challenge you to develop your career muscles in the areas of your job that might fall in the shadows.
Research shows that one of the big contributors to empowerment and satisfaction in your job is having a sense of competence about what you do—that is, the confidence that you have the ability to perform the work in your job with skill.
On the other hand, when you avoid parts of your job that you don’t like (or can’t do), procrastinate, or give up easily when you make a mistake, you’re denying yourself the chance to grow one of the most influential factors that can make you feel empowered in your job: Competence!
Here are three commitments you can make to boost your “vitamin C” in 2015. They may be painful now—but they’ll pay off in the end.
1. Learn Your Job. All of It
If you’re like me, you may have a tendency to focus on doing the stuff that you’re naturally good at, you enjoy, and you find easy to do. It goes with my theory that we love to take the path of least resistance.
As a result, you may look at parts of your job that you’d rather avoid doing, and, well, simply ignore learning about them. Maybe, for example, you’re a great graphic designer, but you can’t stand having to review the clients’ numbers each month. It’s not a big part of your job, so you’d just rather not get too involved.
But this is the year to change all that and focus on understanding the numbers of the business. It may not be a big part of what you do, but it sure does matter to both your organization and the client. In the process, you’ll see how your work as a designer has an impact on both.
What’s that one part of your job you’d rather avoid? Maybe you need to learn more about your company’s products. Maybe you need to enhance your technical or industry knowledge. Perhaps a better understanding of the organization’s financials would boost your job satisfaction.
Identify that one part of your job you have avoided because it’s not your thing, and create a plan for getting more insight and understanding about it this year.
2. Do The Work, Even When You Don’t “Feel” Like It
I remember once sitting in a cube needing to redraft a policy that would go to executives in Europe. It seemed like a massively overwhelming project—and I found myself anticipating all the objections they would have to getting such a policy in the first place.
I could write a novel on ways I found to put off writing that policy because I didn’t feel like doing it. And the malaise spread across my entire week.
To get over the hump, I had to take a couple deliberate steps to get over that overwhelmed feeling.
First, I acknowledged that this policy draft was part of a project that I otherwise loved. This project was making transformational changes in the organization. Sure, this one piece wasn’t the most fun part of the project, but it needed to be done.
Second, I had to visualize the result. I knew there would be a lot of negotiation around the policy, but if I didn’t draft something to start, it would continue to hang like the sword of Damocles over my head. Once I got the document started, we could get to the fun part—implementation and winning over our regional stakeholders.
Finally, by spending so much time dreading the task and “not feeling like it,” I was letting a relatively small part of my job overrun the rest of it. I had to reframe my thinking to realize how much time I was wasting.
To get started, I made myself work in 20-minute blocks until I had a very rough, but somewhat respectable, draft.
And you know what I found? Once I had a document in my hand, I actually felt more confident about handling whatever resistance we would encounter
You’ll find such a sense of empowerment by taking action. Even if you “don’t feel like it.”
Block your calendar to spend 20 minutes, undistracted, working on what you don’t feel like doing. See what happens.
3. Keep Trying, Even When You Fail
Maybe you tried to have a difficult conversation with a co-worker, and it didn’t go so well. Or maybe, you didn’t close the first sale.
Are you inspired to keep going—or to give up?
Our culture loves to honor the overnight success. You might believe if you don’t do something well the first time, you shouldn’t do it at all.
However, consider the iconic stories of inventors and entrepreneurs who have proven otherwise: Edison found 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb, Henry Ford failed in the auto business early on, and U2 was rejected by an early record label.
There’s no end to the stories about people who failed, but chose to keep going. You can, too. Each time you’ll improve. Taking more shots gives you the experience to see what works and what doesn’t. Then you get better—and that builds skill and confidence.
Identify one thing you stopped doing last year because you failed at it. Resurrect that bad boy and identify one step you can take to begin again.
If you’re struggling with your job and feeling like you’re not doing it quite right, see which of these steps can help you. The real satisfaction comes in doing the hard stuff. That’s where you’ll grow by leaps and bounds—and feel a lot more empowered in the process!
Photo of person typing courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lea McLeod coaches people in their jobs when the going gets tough. Bad bosses. Challenging co-workers. Self-sabotage that keeps you working too long. She’s the founder of the Job Success Lab and author of the The Resume Coloring Book. Get started with her free 21 Days to Peace at Work e-series. Book one-on-one coaching sessions with Lea on The Muse's Coach Connect.More from this Author