I was asked a couple of months ago to contribute to a magazine article on my habits for fostering career excellence.
The process was wonderful for me as it made me commit time to putting pen to paper, well in this case, fingers to keyboard. Anyway, only one managed to make it into the article, but I wanted to share the rest of my personal thoughts with you:
1. Develop and grow your sense of Curiosity.
From a young age my mother instilled a love for reading. I attribute my sense of curiosity and wonder about the world because of my exposure to books and reading from such an early age. It never ceases to amaze me, how little I know about the world. Curiosity allows you to travel a thousand different adventures. The only way to find new opportunities in life is to remain curious. Step out of your box and explore the world around you. My curiosity in life has led me to meet the most incredible people and have really great experiences all of which has helped me enrich the conversations I have today, allowing me to contribute to article such as these.
2. Cultivate a habit of daily learning
For a long time I was completely turned off from learning. Especially when I had just left school. Completely disillusioned by the system and lost as to which direction I wanted to take with my career. Fast Forward several years and I realised that if I was going to work and study at the same time, it would have to be something that I was passionate about, or at the very least interested in. It made it so much easier to cultivate a daily habit of learning. Everyone learns everyday, I think we just don’t think that we do, because we have associated learning with the class room. If you are watching a documentary, reading a book, listening to a podcast, reading an article, attending an online course, speaking with a mentor or attending a webinar…well that is all learning. Personally, I use a platform and an app called Degreed, to help me track my progress towards developing my skills. It helps me to build my learning “CV”. Cultivating this habit of learning has helped me move into the career I have today. It was the differentiator that got me the position. Remember that we all have time, and we all have choices around how we spend that time. Learning can be easy, fun and informative. Whether its 5 min with your morning coffee or replacing time in front of TV with a TED talk, make the time daily to apply your curiosity meaningfully. You just never know where it can lead you.
I was asked to speak at LeaderEx on the the topic of Lifelong learning - you can watch the talk here
3. Manage your energy not your time
Several years ago I made a big decision to start my degree. I signed up to do a major in Anthropology. In one of my earlier modules I learnt that not all cultures understand time in a linear fashion. In fact many cultures see time as a cycle. They work in tune with nature. Just as there is a night and day, or a summer and a winter, so too does the human body. We each have moments of heightened energy and awareness – our peaks, and then we have moments where our bodies and minds need rest. Also, every person is unique. Each person’s peaks and troughs run differently. I once worked with someone who was most productive from 2pm until 11pm at night. He would often come in around lunchtime. In an organisation known for their traditional working hours – 8-5, his behaviour could have been seen as improper. But our manager understood the concept of managing energy and not time. She had no problem with him working his odd hours and by doing so, she ensured his productivity levels were high. Take stock of when you are most productive. Then figure out when you are best at doing what. I know for me...my mind does it's best creative writing as I'm preparing to sleep. I am best at answering emails in the morning...but I'm on autodrive between 3 and 5...knowing when I'm the best me means I can become more efficient at doing my work.
I am so proud, this one made it to the Nov 2018 Destiny magazine article on 10 ways to practice career excellence. You can find it here:
4. Invest in yourself. Do a yearly "You" review.
Two years ago I attended Leaderex where I met my career strategist Licia Dewing, among many other things she taught me the importance of understanding your value, and spending time cultivating and tending to yourself. Neglecting yourself and your needs benefits no one. Just as a company spends time defining objectives and key success indicators, measurements and performance management discussions, you can apply the same methodology to yourself. Licia and I spent a lot of time defining what makes me tick, what energises me about my job, what my aspirations are, what do I value, what are my goals, how and when did I want to achieve them, etc. Now many people believe that this exercise needs only to be done once and you are set for life. However, as a human you grow, your stretch, your priorities change, your circumstances might be different and so by taking stock every year, it helps to keep you true to where you want to go, or make adjustments as needed. It is definitely a key to achieving your version of success.
5. Find moments of Unbusy.
I have recently become a mom. I have an almost 9 month old boy. And it is has been one of my most defining moments of my life. I have not ever experiences another time in my life where I have been more able to clearly see what is important. It is so easy to get caught up with the endless lists of things to do. It becomes frenetic and I can feel myself becoming emotionally unbalanced. But I have come to realise that its up to me to find stillness. In search of answers I came across two concepts. The Swedish Hygge and the Japanese Ikigai. As I delved deeper to find out more, I stumbled upon a movement on Facebook called: “Becoming UnBusy – Ditch Stuff, Live Life”. It is a movement dedicated to “slowing down time”. I have discovered that when you get it right, when you find the moments of quite. The moments of stillness, when you become present to the moment that magic happens. Tension dissipates, pressure releases and like a coil unwinding there begins to flow a creative, innovative energy. My life and my career have flourished because I have punctuated it with creativity and innovation. Ask yourself regularly if there really is a need, right now to fill your time with endless tasks, appointments, shopping etc...or would your time be better spent with just being with yourself, your husband, your children? Could the other stuff wait ?