If Busy Were the Indicator of Success, We’d All Be Billionaires (Part Two)
In part one of this post, I wrote about my friend Tonia who uses being “busy” as an (ironic) excuse for why she hasn’t had more success in her career. Tonia wants to get unstuck but the problem is she spends more time “wanting” than “doing” the focused things that would allow her to move up at work.
Wanting is like trying – both crutch words designed to make us feel like we’re making progress when in reality we’re still stuck. The more you want something, the more you try for it, the more elusive it becomes.
Case in point: If everyone who wanted or tried to lose weight actually did, there would be no obesity epidemic in this country. The parallel career epidemic, however, is that there are millions of women who want and try to move up at work, only to find the same success on the ladder as they do on the bathroom scale. (Which is to say, none.)
Ever heard of the word sadhana? If you’re a yogi I’ll bet you have. Sadhana is a Sanskrit word that translates to dedicated, daily action employed to reach a specific goal. Note the word daily because regardless of whether your practice is on the mat or in the boardroom, a true sadhana is a constant process of growth with no clear beginning and no clear end. Same thing with your career.
If you want to put your car in forward and hit the gas at work you will have to put forth the time and energy required every single day to see results. This process is exactly like mindful eating or going to the gym – you’re never really “finished” only temporarily done for now. To succeed on your career sadhana – that is, to be the best version of you at work – you’ll need to tap into the same deep reservoir of discipline it takes to be the best version of you outside the office.
This is the part where you might be thinking, “I’m not all that great at self-discipline and – if I were – I wouldn’t still be trying to lose that weight, smart ass.”
So…to get your mind pointed in the right direction, start thinking of yourself on a daily path to professional growth. If you genuinely view your career as a practice and you are consistent in setting aside 15-20 minutes every day to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going, this will easily become the single most transformative thing you do for yourself professionally – ever.
The. Single. Most. Professionally. Transformative. Thing. Ever.
Assuming you’re onboard with the mindset of a career sadhana you’re probably wondering what that looks like, right? To go in for the kamikaze-dive of accountability, you can create a template similar to what Ben Franklin himself did. Start with a table listing your goals and intentions horizontally across the top and the days of the month vertically down the left. Then, check-in with yourself daily by placing a “check mark symbol” (Woot!) or an “X” (No magic this time) where they meet.
Over time a HUGE clue that you’re truly changing your habits is when you really want to engage in your career practice. It won’t feel like “one more thing” on a long list of “things” to accomplish each day. It will become a gift to yourself and, over time, the intentions on your scoresheets will no longer feel like “exercises.” Many will become rituals as much a part of your day as getting out of bed and brushing your teeth – and that’s the idea.
Bottom line: If there ever comes a point in your career where you don’t feel you’re “getting” enough out of it, really be honest about how much you’re giving. Are you really DOing or just wanting and trying?