“Choose a job that you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”— Confucius
Five Highly-Important Career Habits
Our careers are oftentimes our financial bloodlines. They provide a source of income, but also a prominent source of stress in our lives. In fact, numerous studies have indicated that job-related stress has become the major source of stress in the lives of the American working class. One study claims that “35% of workers say their jobs are harming their physical or emotional health.” The same study also concluded that 42% of workers say that their job pressures are having an enormous impact on their personal relationships.
Having a good career is one thing, but being able to manage and cope with the stress it produces is another ballgame entirely. To do so, we have to start from the ground up. By incorporating five must-have career habits into our daily routines, we can not only help deal with the stress levels of our daily work lives, but also help to advance our careers. Without these all-important career habits, most individuals find themselves either too stressed out or too burnt out to at the end of the day to focus on anything else.
Stress in the Workplace
When we get stressed out, we’re more likely to suffer from things like heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses. Our body’s ability to fight off diseases drops as stress hormones like adrenalin, cortisol, and epinephrine are released into the body from the endocrine system. These hormones in moderate doses are okay for any of us since they’re part of the flight-or-flight mechanism that’s genetically programmed into our DNA. But, these hormones in any large doses over extended periods are harmful and can trigger numerous physical illnesses.
Stress hormones help the body tackle stress but also help to send the bulk of the body’s resources away from non-essential systems. For example, cortisol will alter the immune system and it will help to suppress the digestive system, reducing our ability to fight disease and digest food. Cortisol also helps to limit our reproductive systems and our sex drives, making the conception of children even harder. Adrenaline rushes the blood away form the non-essential systems and towards the muscles in an effort to to fight for our lives, so to speak.
All of these stress-related factors in our careers lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease and heart attacks, strokes, excessive weight gain and digestion-related illnesses, problems with sleep, and the impairment of concentration and memory. When we’re stressed, it’s much harder to focus on positive things in our lives such as our careers, relationships, and family. When the sole focus becomes stress-related issues from our careers, we completely lose sight of what we’re doing and why we’re even doing it.
Habits that Stimulate our Careers
The five must-have career habits help to organize our minds, tidy up our emotions, and stimulate our careers. Even when we’re living in a high-stress situation, by taking a step back and instituting these five career habits, remarkable transformations begin to occur. However, like any other habit, these habits require work to institute. In fact, on average it’s going to take you approximately 90 days to form any habit. In those 90 days, a transformation occurs in the mind as it etches neural pathways that help to make any behavior autonomous.
If you want to improve your career, then you have to stay committed to these habits. Picking them up and dropping them off simply won’t work. You have to institute them day-in and day-out. In the beginning, it’ll be hard. But, over time, the behaviors will become automatic, and not only will your career improve, but the resultant levels of stress revolving around your career will decrease.
With that in mind, we first have to take a step back and look at our habits that we currently have. How well do you know yourself? Do you realize just how much your current habits are impacting your career and the resultant stress levels in your life? If you’re like most people, then you’re at the mercy of your habits. Because, either our habits help to hold us back, or they work to propel us forward. The bad habits are hard to break and the good habits are hard to form. So, where do we begin?
#1 – Career Habit: Daily Gratitude
The first must-have career habit we need to incorporate into our lives is daily gratitude. We have to be grateful for what we have, no matter how big or small it may be. Now, most people might not think of this as a career habit. But, not only is it a must-have career habit, it’s also a core keystone habit as well. Practicing daily gratitude will allow you to overcome many of the stresses and daily challenges of everyday life in general.
This involves the first 15 or 20 minutes of your day to simply sit silently, think, and write what you’re grateful for. Even if you have numerous problems, we can always find something to be grateful for. Still, when we have problems – career or otherwise – it blocks the path to gratitude. It’s harder for us to see what we have as opposed to what we’re lacking.
But, problems are a sign of life. We will always have problems. When we’re grateful however, we move our subconscious and conscious minds away from a state of lack and towards a state of abundance. When this becomes a daily career habit, our entire attitude shifts about work and we begin to approach things from a positive mindset rather than a negative one.
#2 – Arrive 30 Minutes Early
For most people, their daily work lives involve getting to work almost precisely on time or just a few minutes, or even moments, early, and leaving precisely on time, or even earlier if they can swing it. What people forget is that, when we do the bare minimum, we can’t expect the absolute maximum in return. Even in highly stressful situations, by arriving early we can better plan our days.
Arriving early to work by at least 30 minutes also forces us to wake up earlier. When we wake up earlier it provides us more time in the morning to get situated and think about the day ahead. And, when we get to the office or begin our workday from wherever it may be, it provides a buffer to prep our minds for the things that we have to tackle in the day.
When we make a habit of arriving early to work, other things happen as well. It shows our commitment to the job and our careers. It doesn’t say that we’re doing the bare minimum. It shows that we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that we’re providing the maximum output to our employers while setting the foundation for success.
#3 – What Did I Achieve Today?
Every single morning, upon arriving at work, we must ask ourselves the question, “What did I achieve today?” When we ask ourselves this question first thing in the morning, a couple of things begin to happen. Not only do we put the day in perspective, but it helps us to organize our chaotic minds.
This question also warrants some thinking, which can be done first thing in the morning, especially considering we’re employing the career habit of arriving 30 minutes early. The question allows us to focus in on our goals. If you’re an entrepreneur or the head of a company, this question is just as important as if you’re a new employee just hired on the job.
This question gives us the big picture for the day. It helps us to hone our focus on the major things that need to be tackled. Of course, this also involves putting pen to paper in the morning and detailing out your day. “What did I achieve today,” warrants a slew of our good career habits such as active goal setting, time management, and so on.
#4 – Utilize Time Management Techniques
I’ve talked a great detail about the importance of managing your time with time management techniques. In the workplace, time management is a critical component to career-success. It also helps to reduce stress by organizing our days. When we manage our time, it’s also easier to avoid distractions that seem to plague most people.
But, before you start managing your time with time management techniques, and building up this career habit, you should audit your time. Do you know how much time you’re wasting throughout the day? Have you ever kept a log of what you do from hour to hour? This might sound extreme to you, but I assure you it’s not.
When you audit your time you can best see where your time is going. If you’re an office worker, this is important. It helps show how much time is being thrown away dealing with personal responsibilities or even posting and engaging on social media platforms. Spend your time wisely at work and watch as your career blossoms and your stress-levels decline.
#5 – Always Add Value
Similar to showing up on work almost precisely on time and leaving precisely on time, most employees also try to do the bare minimum of work required of them. In this world, there’s absolutely no way to get ahead if you’re not constantly seeking ways to add value. If you want to succeed in your career, reduce stress, and live happier, focus on adding value rather than taking it.
The most successful people and companies have an enormous commitment to the value-added approach. They go above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak. They do their very best to ensure that they’re providing the maximum output, and not the minimum.
Companies and employees that focus on the value-added approach always win big in the long-run. In the short-term, this can seem like you’re fighting an uphill battle. But, over time, word spreads. It won’t happen overnight, but if you want your career to take off, then focus on what you can give rather than what you can take.