Over the course of my career I have noticed a few things about the world of work that can be used to help fulfil your goals.
Some of the greatest restrictions are those we place on ourselves.
The restrictions we impose on ourselves may not be organisational expectations or expectations of colleagues or seniors.
I am certainly guilty of taking on tasks that weren't expected of me. Yes, those tasks made life easier for someone else and were an unexpected benefit for them. In some cases the benefit to me was a positive reputation. Sadly in many cases there was no benefit to me except the satisfaction of knowing I left something better than it was before.
In hindsight I would have been better off devoting time to what would have benefitted my career. No-one would have objected and ultimately an investment in myself would have benefitted me and my organisation.
Develop positive habits
When I was a DBA, after morning checks, I used to read the new articles on SQLServerCentral while I drank my 1st coffee. It was a 10 minute break before putting my nose back to the grindstone. Those 10 minutes gave me information that gave a return on investment that were orders of magnitude greater than the expenditure.
No-one was micromanaging my time. I could have easily just got on with the day job. Neither approach would have provoked comment. I always rendered unto Caesar what was due unto Caesar.
Kill bad habits
Reading SQLServerCentral is a positive habit that is valid in work time. Reading the BOFH or DailyWTF, not so much. Entertaining they may be but they don't give you anything you can take way and use. In some cases they can be quite negative and not good for your mental health.
Outside of work it is easy to lose a lot of time on social media and social media games. Ultimately, what does time spent on social media give back to you? If you've tried to cut down on social media time, it isn't easy. I'm not suggesting that you substitute work related activities in place of social media time, the choice is yours. Whatever helps you recharge, relax, get a positive feeling after you have done it.
Review your CV every month
I've made the mistake of going more than a year without updating mine. When I came to do it I didn't have a clear view of what I had achieved since the last time I did so.
Even if you don't NEED to update your CV it is wise to do so. Life has a way of throwing curve balls.
Keep a work journal
It'll help with end-of-year reviews. I find it helps to remind me of how far I have come over whatever period of time I am considering. It is a tool for a personal retrospective.
- What did I do well?
- What did I do less well at?
- What actions should I take to improve?
I find it helpful to keep track of who have helped me. NEVER forget to say thank you (and mean it).
If you are a manager and someone says that one of your reports has helped them. Make a note of it then go and make sure your report knows you know they have helped. THE best manager I have ever worked with had this as one of her behaviours. As a manager part of your plan to improve can only be achieved by making it possible for your staff to improve.