Spring has sprung, and so should you. I’m serious. Time to spring up and clean up your messy career.
And it is messy. Disorganized. Borderline disgusting.
Where to start? Read “The 10 Best Things to Discard to ‘Spring Clean’ Your Career,” an article by Amy Blaschka recently published on Forbes.com.
I’ve had to declutter a couple of Blaschka’s decluttering ideas because of space limitations and general laziness, but if hoarding dusty and dirty career concepts has been holding you back, here’s what you have to throw out.
No. 1: A confusing positioning
Many of us take the Swiss Army knife approach to job hunting. We say we are experts at everything and anything, which translates to doing nothing very well. “Instead,” writes our author, “focus on putting your talents to their highest and best use.”
As proof, you’re asked if you would hire a CPA who says they’re a tax expert, but “lists four other seemingly unrelated professions along with their ability to do your taxes.”
I say, definitely yes, hire them, but only if one of the professions listed is travel agent specializing in luxury, long-term accommodations in foreign countries without extradition treaties.
If you’re uncertain about what it is you do well, ask your supervisors. If they can’t think of anything, congratulations. You’re a genius at faking it and are definitely in line for a high-placed, well-paid position in management.
No. 2: Irrelevant experience
You want to “ruthlessly pare down information on your CV or LinkedIn profile, omitting the experience that doesn’t align with your goals.” Perhaps. Don’t be so ruthless that you discard valuable learning experiences, like the timeout you received in kindergarten for throwing blocks at Bippy, the class’ beloved hamster. And what about your third runner-up award in the Pillsbury Bake-Off? That’s sure to impress hiring managers, especially when they see that photo of you and Betty Crocker.
No. 3: The need to be perfect
“If you’re a perfectionist, this may be a hard pill to swallow,” Blaschka writes. “‘Perfect’ doesn’t exist.” Ridiculous! Perfect definitely exists; just look in the mirror.
No. 4: People and things that no longer serve you
“You’ve likely grown and evolved,” posits Blaschka, a very unlikely observation when it comes to readers of this column. Still, it may be worthwhile “to be mindful of the company you keep and the activities that you engage in.”
While associating with winners might inspire you to do better, it can also make you question your own lack of accomplishments. A better idea, if you want to feel really good about yourself, is to find a bunch of losers and hang with them. This may not move you ahead in your career, but no one will care, especially you.
No. 5: Saying yes to everything
Agreeing to take on every project will make you popular, but it won’t make you productive. On the other hand, saying no to everything could cost you your job. There are better responses, like a neutral “maybe” or a dispassionate “perhaps,” but my favorite is a simple “huh?”
Say your manager asks, “will you take on this new assignment?” Or “do you realize you spent three hours at lunch?” Or “are you even listening to me?”
‘Huh?” is a fair response to any of these questions, and it doesn’t commit you to anything, except maybe getting your hearing tested.
No. 6: Outdated expectations
Let’s face it: You’re never going to be CEO of your company. Unless, of course, all those blockbuster movies about space travel are true, and you really can transport to a different universe, go back in time and restart your career right, right from the beginning. This will definitely work, as long as you are not attacked by Gorks from the planet Blurk. Sound ridiculous? Check your closet.
No. 7: The negative stories you tell yourself
Rid yourself of “self-sabotaging talk.” Replace it with “self-affirming talk.” Remind yourself how wonderful you are and, while you’re at it, remind everyone else as well. You’ll be considered an obnoxious, self-centered egotist. In other words, management material.
No. 8: Fear
“The number one barrier to success isn’t your lack of talent,” Blaschka concludes, “it’s fear.” Which makes your lack of talent the number two barrier to your success, but who’s counting?
Fear can be paralyzing, but that’s a positive to your managers and co-workers, who would have to adjust to a new, fearless, confident you, speaking your mind on any subject on every occasion.
Now that would put the fear in everyone.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at
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WORK DAZE: Here’s how to dust, de-clutter and spring-clean your career