You might not even be aware, but you may have some behaviors you exhibit at work that could be holding you back, and preventing you from getting what you want and where you want to be.
In work, as in life, we don’t always have the clearest view of the impact we make. That’s why it’s sometimes helpful to step back and reflect on how we are progressing towards our goals, and what might be getting in our way.
This process of self-reflection is important, because it lets us gain perspective, and look at our actions and reactions in a calm, impartial way. Even a brief pause like this can lead us to some startling revelations about barriers that we erect in the path of our own success.
So here are a few behaviors to watch out for, and some thoughts about how to move past them:
1.) Confirmation Bias – believing that you already know what you need to know
One thing that can really get in your way is overconfidence. When you work hard to aim at a particular target, it can be difficult to open back up and consider the whole picture — maybe you shouldn’t be aiming at that particular target at all. If you don’t take time to reconsider your progress and recalibrate based upon real information and real feedback, then you run the risk of continuing in a wrong direction.
How you know you’re stuck: You seem to be the only person that can see the outcome you’re heading for. When no one else seems to share your view of where you’re heading, you might not be heading there at all.
The solve: When you think you’re 100% right in pursuing your goals as they are, give yourself a few quick scenarios to consider what you’d do differently if you were wrong about the direction that you’ve chosen. Thinking about What-If for a little bit can help you break out of your preconceived notions and consider a world where your assumptions may be flawed.
2.) The Messiah Complex – thinking you have to go it alone
It’s critical to remain dedicated to achieving your goals, and self reliance is a valuable trait for making progress on your personal brand. But no man is an island, and asking for help when you need it doesn’t have to mean failure.
How you know you’re stuck: You have refused assistance for the 4th time (today) and you have no idea what to attack next. You may have barricaded yourself off from your team, or been burned in the past for reaching out to co-workers.
The solve: Keep one eye on the prize, but the other eye scanning for team members and bosses who can help. Sometimes you may just need a cheerleader, or a good coach’s perspective in order to see your team as a collection of strengths to be leveraged. It can help to think about the goal as a place to celebrate accomplishment mixed with gratitude for those who worked together to accomplish it.
3.) Moving Goalposts – you keep changing your objective
It’s great to set ‘reach’ goals, which are intentionally tough to achieve and require sacrifice and dedication in order to meet them. But sometimes we can trick ourselves into chasing a phantom of success, and the ensuing exhaustion can wear teams down, and water down the progress made in senior management’s eyes.
How you know you’re stuck: If you find yourself (or your team) saying “Nothing is never enough!”, then it’s likely that you’re being wishy-washy with goals and not setting a solid objective and sticking with it. Another common symptom is feeling like you are over-delivering for months on end, but still feel like you’re getting nowhere.
The solve: You’ll want to find a third party to help you set some realistic goals and keep to them. It can just be a friend or spouse to start with, but ideally you’ll want to have a mentor or coach to help you narrow down your objectives to SMART goals that you can throw yourself behind.
4.) Anti-completion Disorder – you can’t keep focus long enough to finish your task.
Let’s face it, unless you’re on Easy Street, you are probably working on multiple complex projects in your day-to-day life. And even as your To-Do list gets longer, your co-workers needs can spike, and family obligations can further fracture your attention. Even the most organized of us can get flustered and end up running from task to task to task — completing nothing and wasting energy.
How you know you’re stuck: When you’re busy from dawn to dark, but don’t move the big project forward, you may be scattering your attention amongst too many tasks.
The solve: Get some ‘wins’ under your belt. Pick just one task to complete that you can finish in a couple of hours or less and knock it out. Then pick another few that you can finish in a few days and attack them next. After you get your mojo working, then clarify how to proceed, perhaps picking a portion of your day to focus on single task work, and then another portion for longer-term work. And stay motivated!
5.) Procrastination – you just don’t ever get around to … you know, …
It’s that feeling of dread as you see time slip by, and the deadline approach. And the white page still faces you – daring you to try start work on YOUR MOST IMPORTANT PROJECT. EVER. (Or at least it can feel that way.)
How you know you’re stuck: Everyone does it from time to time, but when you haven’t started to make progress on an important project when your first milestone is coming up, then it may be time to take action.
The solve: First off, be sure that you’ve got any big project broken down into smaller pieces, so you’ll get a head’s up when the first deadline flies by. Jon Nastor wrote a great piece for Entrepreneur magazine on beating procrastination. All his ideas are great, but my personal favorite is to refocus on what is really required, or as he says it: “Done is better than perfect.” If you can avoid the paralysis that sets in due to high expectations, you can start to put your work in. And even if this first work it’s not your best, you still will have begun, and you can go back later and bring it all up to your standards after you’ve broken through that first barrier.
There are other behaviors that can block success — what have you been struggling with?
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