If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
— Arthur McAuliff
If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.
— Quentin Crisp
If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
— Author Unknown
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There’s no use in being a damn fool about it.
— W.C. Fields
If at first you don’t succeed, do it like your mother told you.
— Author Unknown
If at first you do succeed, try to hide your astonishment.
— Author Unknown
If at first you don’t succeed, you’re running about average.
— M.H. Alderson
This article is the fourth in a 10-part series on the topic of overcoming career-limiting habits.
I heard once that the Chinese character for the word “change” was a combination of two other characters: chaos and opportunity. Now, don’t quote me on this. I have no idea of if it’s correct. But in theory, it makes sense.
When a recent study ranked “resistance to change” as number 4 in a list of the most common career-limiting habits, I immediately remembered this little piece of trivia. Change is indeed a combination of chaos and opportunity. Those who are resistant, I think, are only looking at one side of the equation. They’re forgetting about the opportunity and focusing only on the chaos. And who wouldn’t resist that?
We all know that change is the only constant in life and nowhere is that more true than in the workplace. Technology alone forces us to be adaptable and learn new things on nearly a daily basis. The business world is always evolving in big ways and small (think: mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, etc.).
Change is absolutely unavoidable so, as the trekkies say, resistance is futile. Successful professionals have to be willing to embrace change, even when the outcome is still unknown.
Here are a few tips for learning to love change in the workplace:
Recognize When You’re Resisting
A great first step for most people is simply to recognize when change is happening and how you’re reacting. If you’re resistant, figure out what’s beneath the resistance. Is it fear? Why are you pushing back when everything around you is moving forward?
Look for the Opportunity
Remember that change = chaos + opportunity. It’s a two-part equation. What potential exists within the change? Shine a spotlight there.
Make It Less Dramatic
An overnight, sudden change is much harder to handle than a gradual shift. It’s like the “frog in a boiling water” scenario (which, being an animal lover, I hate!!). When you see change on the horizon, be proactive. Do what you can to ease the transition, minimize the chaos and enhance the opportunity.
Release Emotional Attachments
Let go of the feelings you have associated with the old way of doing things. Comfort can be more emotional than rational. Remember that you’re endlessly adaptable and that growth almost always comes with discomfort. Learn to simply go with the flow and see where the wave takes you.
Photo Credit: Busy.pochi (Flickr)
In case you missed it, I held my free monthly coaching call yesterday. You can listen to the recorded version using the audio player below.
If you’d like to participate in next month’s call, please register and submit a question by visiting this page.
Download MP3 Here
This article is the third in a 10-part series on the topic of overcoming career-limiting habits.
Let me be honest: I’ve been putting off writing this article for a few days. Since we’re looking at the career-limiting habit of procrastination, I feel it’s appropriate that you know this. And let me also say that I don’t whole-heartedly think procrastination is a “bad” thing.
Before you storm off and accuse me of promoting poor work habits, hear me out…
In a recent study that cited the 10 most common career-limiting habits, procrastination ranked at number 3, just behind unreliability and “that’s not my job.”
Now, I can assume that the kind of procrastination being referenced here is the kind that leads to missed deadlines and other shoddy performance indicators. But not all procrastination is equal. And procrastination, in my view, isn’t at all like unreliability. Here’s why:
It’s never cool to be unreliable. On the other hand, it’s sometimes perfectly okay—even desirable—to procrastinate. It’s a form of prioritization and a tool for time management. We can’t do every single task right this minute. Some items are more important than others. Some are more urgent. We have to purposefully defer less important/less urgent tasks to make room for the ones that take priority. So, I’m not willing to lump procrastination in a big bucket just a few steps removed from unreliability.
Procrastination becomes a problem, however, when it’s not being used productively or when it becomes a mindless form of escape. For example, when you find yourself putting something off because you simply don’t want to do it, or because you’re afraid of doing it, or because you conveniently find other, more interesting things to do (even when the activity you’re putting off really should come first).
So how do you know if you’re procrastinating in the career-limiting kind of way or if you’re just prioritizing? Well, it’s all about purpose and performance.
What are your reasons for procrastinating?
Are you deferring projects because other items rightfully should come first? Or are you simply hiding from what needs to get done? Often, problematic procrastination stems from fear: You’re afraid to work on a specific task because it feels overwhelming, or you don’t know where to start, or you’re a perfectionist and you fear your work will never measure up. There are all kinds of fears that can prevent you from just getting started even when you know you should.
Is your quality of work slipping?
Are you putting off important tasks and then finding yourself rushed to complete them on time? Are you failing to give your work the appropriate amount of attention? The outcome is what matters so you know your procrastination has gone too far and stumbled into “unproductive territory” when it leads to poor performance results.
What can you do about it?
If you’re plagued by procrastination for all the wrong reasons and it’s negatively impacting your work, try the following:
1. Learn to Prioritize Correctly
Each task should be evaluated based on importance and urgency. The unimportant, non-urgent items are the ones that can be easily deferred with little or no harm (and hopefully, in the future, they can be deleted all together). If you’re procrastinating the incorrect items, it’s time to review your prioritization practices.
2. Forget Perfection
Remember that everything evolves. You can make improvements as you move forward. Don’t get stuck because of some unrealistic standard you’ve imposed on yourself.
3. Keep It Bite-Sized
If you’re overwhelmed with the size of a project and putting it off because you don’t know where to start, break it down into bite-sized pieces. One step at a time is the best way to tackle these projects. You’ll be able to wrap your head around what needs to be done and you’ll also experience small victories along the way as you accomplish each baby step.
4. Stop Fooling Yourself
People often tell me that procrastination helps them focus. They wait until the last minute because the added pressure gives them a boost of energy and creativity. This smells like an excuse to me.
In all probability, you could produce even better work given the time to think about what you’re doing. You’ll catch mistakes that would go unnoticed in a pinch; you’ll have the ability to explore alternative solutions instead of simply rushing down the first path you find; and you’ll be able to really focus on the work, rather than being distracted with the stress and anxiety of an impending deadline.
Take some time to evaluate your procrastination practices. Are you using this tool effectively or are you suffering with a career-limiting habit?
Photo Credit: Bondseye (Flickr)
How would you feel if you had enough time to get everything done AND you still had time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family?
You’d feel AWESOME, right?
What would you do with that extra time? Take a long, hot bath? Go hiking? Sit down and read to your kids?
What if I could snap my fingers and give you an extra hour in your day? Or maybe a FEW extra hours? In a way, I can. Because I can give you the tools to be more efficient and, ultimately, it will FEEL like several extra hours have been added to your day—hours that don’t have to be spent catching up on work, racing from one task to the next, or worrying about how to get it all done.
You’re invited to join me for an exclusive FREE webinar where I’ll be sharing 10 simple but POWERFUL strategies for managing time effectively.
In this session, you’ll get tangible, real solutions you can put into place immediately to gain a better sense of control over your life and work.
Limited to 100 participants so register TODAY!
Even if you’re unable to attend the live session, register anyway. I’ll send you a link to watch the recorded version online when it’s ready.
Those who attend live will be given the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session. Only 100 participants can join the live session so please come early so secure your spot.
Date: Thursday, July 14, 2011
2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST This session is FULL! New Session Added: 4:00 pm EST
Length of time: Approximately 1 hour
This webinar is celebrating a special promotion I’m running. If you’d like to pick up a copy of my Career Success Combo Kit, which includes my two most popular e-workbooks (on the topics of Time Management & Stress Management) you don’t want to miss this 50% off sale. It’s the LAST TIME these e-workbooks will be offered together at this low price. Learn more here >>