Whether we like it or not, over half of Americans work for corporations these days. I say "like it or not" because 70% of these workers are considered unengaged and quite frankly, unhappy. Now, I'm not sure where you lie in these statistics, but since you are reading this post, I will assume you are somewhere in the majority. That means you are looking to improve the quality of your work life. And you’re not alone. If we are to build careers that we love, it starts with taking accountability for our happiness, and learning how to thrive in Corporate America.
I recently hit my 5 year anniversary of graduating college and working in the professional world. During this time I have worked for some of the biggest companies and biggest brands.
Through my short experience in the corporate world, I have noticed a few things that have already begun to change. You may have seen this too.
People like Arianna Huffington, CEO of The Huffington Post are leading the way for working less and sleeping more, and tech companies are pushing the limits to benefits offered .
Work is now becoming more of a life experience, as opposed to your life being your work.
Yet even with this shift, I still see many people in Corporate America operating in the same antiquated ways. As a result, they are overstressed, undernourished, and it’s spilling into their personal lives.
It's time we take a different approach to work.
It's time we treated our careers as if they were something to be nourished, cherished, and built around our personal lives, not vice versa.
Thriving in a profession is about the experience, not the end result.
It’s not solely about moving up the ladder. It's about making the most of our time and energy, ensuring that those 40, 50, 60 hour work weeks are supporting our lives and enriching them with incredible experiences.
We are all capable of changing our lives by changing our habits. It begins by making a commitment to yourself and believing that there is a better way to live.
Here are 6 habits that you can implement today that will lead to a thriving corporate career and life.
Thrive Habit 1 - Practice Minimalism
Our world is becoming exponentially complex. We have distractions at work and at home that didn’t exist 15 years ago.
In fact, every 2 days we create as much information as we did up to 2003 (See Full Article Here).
And as good as technology has been to increase our standards of living, it also creates new stressors in our lives. We all seem to be running around trying to play catch up, but as information and technology are rapidly expanding - there is no hope of catching up.
My suggestion is rather than play a game you can’t win, find one that you can.
Steve Mueller, the founder of Planet of Success suggests that
a minimalistic approach can help us to deal with the flood of information and helps us to focus on what is really important in our lives: doing what needs to be done and ignoring what distracts us.”
This is the basis of true productivity - doing the right things (being effective) and doing things right (being efficient).
My suggestion is rather than focusing on being more efficient with your time, it’s better to create more simplicity. Simplicity in your life, at work, and in your relationships.
This could be as easy as streamlining communication with your teams by setting up automations, or limiting the amount of emails you send and receive every day. There are tons of ways to incorporate minimalism at work and in your life. Here are a few examples from Zen Minimalism.
If you think you are if you are up for a challenge, the guys over at TheMinimalists.com have created a 21-day challenge to Minimalism.
Thrive Habit 2 - Raise Your Hand
Early in my career, I took on every project I could. When something came up and someone needed help, I was there.
Need help covering a vacancy? I'm your guy.
Crunched on time? Let me pitch in.
My willingness to raise my hand and be of service is largely why I constantly been able to move up and do bigger things.
If you can fit the extra projects in, do it. It builds character, shows you are a team player, and can help you build networks that you wouldn't have otherwise.
I believe that in order to thrive in your career, you have to build your skills.
One of the best ways to do that is to seek out projects and assignment that test your abilities and push you to go further than you thought you could.
While this thriving habit is about growing your career, there are some things to be mindful of:
Be careful that you aren't just doing busy work. If you are constantly taking on projects that are low impact and low visibility - you might be wasting your time by adding extra work to your plate.
Make sure you are investing into your productivity skills. Taking on too many projects and having them spill over into your personal life is a recipe for disaster. Learn to be more efficient and effective with your time, and most importantly: realize when too much is too much. (See Habit #1)
Thrive Habit 3 - Take Care of Your Health
It might seem irrelevant but if you don't have your health, say goodbye to your career. Heck, say goodbye to everything in life, because without your health nothing else matters.
When it comes to health, many people think only of physical exercise. While that is a key component and something that should be added into your schedule, more than 80% of our health actually comes from what we eat.
By function, we eat so that we have energy.
Eating the right foods (especially in the morning) will give you the energy to be productive throughout the day. Not only will it give you physical energy, but also the mental strength to engage and contribute fully to meetings and tasks for that day.
Eating the wrong foods can bring your energy, cognitive functions, and ability to effectively communicate way down.
Here is a list of helpful foods to boost your energy.
Thrive Habit 4 - 30 Minutes a Day for Personal Development
In John C. Maxwell's book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he highlights a leadership rule called The Law of the Lid”. The law says that we can only achieve the success to that which matches our leadership abilities. In order to reach higher levels of success, we need to become better leaders.
In order to reach higher levels of success, we need to become better leaders.
Everything we do is connected. When we improve one area of our life, other areas are affected in a positive way. For example, personal relationships and work. If work is going well, you come home to your family in a great mood. If you are struggling at home in your relationship, you will carry it with you throughout the day, letting it unknowingly seep into your productivity (or lack thereof) at work.
I was recently in a meeting with the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company who told me to
read everything and anything. Find interesting things outside of your field to learn. When you learn about topics that have no application to your job, somehow they always seem to apply."
The bottom line is that excelling in your personal life means excelling in your professional life as well.
All it takes is 30 minutes a day.
Whether that's reading just before you go to bed or listening to a podcast on your commute to work - everyone can find half an hour somewhere in their day. NET Time
Thrive Habit 5 - Don't Participate in Office Gossip
I'll be honest, this is a hard one for me. It's not that I'm malicious or mean, but it's easy to gossip with coworkers...about coworkers. And even though I don't like it, I still catch myself getting caught up in the latest “news”.
It's something that I'm working on, and so should you.
When we are advocates for others and only talk positively, we set ourselves apart and become seen as a leader. But when we are constantly catching up on the latest buzz about who said what, and what happened - we project negative energy.
You never know who will be your boss someday or heck, you never know who you will be leading either. Make it a habit to talk well about others. Be the uplifter, not 'Gary the a.'
Thrive Habit 6 - Practice Meditation
Have you ever walked from one room to another with the intention of doing something, but in the process of walking there, you’ve forgotten what it was?
This is our brain telling us that we are in overload. Just like a computer, our brain is asking us to shut down and reboot.
While we don’t always have the luxury of leaving work for a ‘mental break’, there are things we can do to be proactive to prevent this from happening in the first place.
The best way of doing this is to practice meditation.
For me, meditation is a source of calm. There are a million things going on in my life, but when I meditate - I can easily sort them all out.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the problems at work, stresses at home, or the world’s most recent headlines.
Meditation brings back the calm and peace that we so desperately need to think clearly and make the best decisions at home and at work.
If you have never tried meditating, I recommend checking out Headspace. They have a free no-risk 10-day trial. Who knows - you might get hooked.
If you really want a successful and thriving career, the bottom line is that you need to do things differently. So let me ask you this...
What habit are you going to implement TODAY?
You Deserve a Career That You Love
Grab a copy of my Success Toolkit and get the exact strategies and tools you need to build a killer career.