Have you been hitting the snooze button more often these days? If you’ve been in the same position professionally for a while, you may be feeling stuck, or that you don’t have the same enthusiasm that you once had. If that’s you, it’s okay. It happens. There are plenty of strategies you can use to get back to jumping out of bed in the morning! But be aware: If you don’t make a change now, stagnation can create a vicious circle where frustration and sameness lead to disengagement and underperformance, which in turn make it less likely that you will be able to advance.
Rediscover Your Origin Story
If you find yourself feeling burnt out, try to remember why you set out on this journey in the first place. Try to think back to your original inspiration. In couples counseling, married folks are sometimes asked to think back to their early days to recapture the original spark that brought them together in the first place. I encourage you to do the same for your career and commitment to leadership. Think back to your core passions: why did you want to pursue a career in your field? What are you passionate about? Then think back even farther and remember that one mentor, teacher, or parent who inspired you to become the person you are today. You decided that someday you would become a leader yourself to pass on that inspiration to someone else. Keeping this in view will give you the motivation to keep pushing.
Challenge and Change Your Best Every Day
Fight complacency by challenging and changing your best every day. This idea is actually a core axiom at Southwest Michigan First. We encourage each other to strive for “preeminence,” which means refusing to be content with the status quo. No matter how efficient we think we are, we can always perform better. We challenge our team to find ways to constantly improve.
To do this, you have to reignite your curiosity. In an ever-changing world, there is always more you can learn. For you, this might mean getting an advanced certification or enrolling in a training course. Or you can always brush up on your soft skills like emotional intelligence, creativity and leadership. Just keep adding knowledge. When asked what people can do to get ahead, Warren Buffet once recommended, “Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” I encourage you to commit to staying current on industry trends. Buy books or subscribe to podcasts that interest you. Then try to put what you learn into practice.
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Set Attainable Goals, and Execute Them
Every year after January 1, there is an explosion of new gym memberships as people attempt to make good on their New Year’s resolutions. But according to “U.S. News,” approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. What begins with good intentions often ends in avoidance. For some people, the goal of going to the gym every day was too steep of a step, and for others, the problem was the follow-through.
The best way to fight both tendencies is through mentorship. Find a mentor or mentors who can give you advice, but also hold you accountable. A good mentor will help you build a roadmap for your future that is attainable and rewarding. They should have the experience to know what moves the best for you will be, and what you can do every day to get there. Plus, if you meet with them regularly to talk about your journey, this alone will help you stay on track. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you increase your chances of completing a goal by 65 percent if you make a commitment with someone else. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95 percent.
Give Yourself a Break
It could be that all you need to do to shake stagnation is to get away for a little while. According to a 2017 Project Time Off study, 52 percent of American workers had unused vacation days at the end of the year. You may think that your bank of PTO makes you a more dedicated professional, but not taking time away might actually be hurting your performance. Take a vacation or spend time with your family—the change of scenery will break up your day-to-day routine. Just make sure you unplug as much as possible! If you are spending time with your family, commit to doing just that. Check yourself if you are bothered by the urge to log into your email more than is absolutely necessary. That way, you can rest and come back to your job refreshed and ready for action.