Growing up, all I ever wanted was a full-time, salaried, 9-5 job office job. Over the years, a full-time job was often mentioned as the cookie cutter blueprint to success in today’s society. It was the only way to guarantee financial security and a sign of professional growth.
As I entered the 9-5 workforce I started to realize that it may not be the right fit for me. It’s not like office jobs are the only way people make a living today. I went from working in retail to working in New York City at tech startups in Manhattan and quickly developed my own opinions on what it meant to be successful and happy.
Some of it had to do with my schedule. Although I didn’t miss retail, I started to miss my rotating schedule. Working for startups in a big city was fun, but I couldn’t imagine allowing 60+ hour work weeks to become my norm. I was only 22 and feeling burnt out. Knowing something had to change, I started to reflect on my career.
I realized that having a 9-5 isn’t necessarily the key to success, nor does it guarantee happiness, or the paycheck you desire. But it’s easy to get lost and feel confused. For our parents and previous generations, a typical career path was to go to college, find a job and decades later potentially switch your job or retire with the one you graduated with.
Things are a lot different these days and I want to share with you how I’ve found success in an ever-changing workforce. With the technology available today, there are a number of ways you can do to standout to land clients, attract recruiters and find the opportunities you seek in your professional career.
There is no doubt about the fact that things change quickly in today’s workforce, but that’s not something we should fear, but embrace, and it all starts with re-framing some of our mindset when it comes to the workforce.
Shift 001: Here’s why you should let go of the employee mindset
Regardless if you’re a full-time employee or an aspiring freelance creative, it’s time we put an end to the employee and employer mindset. Try to think of yourself as a small business or a one-person shop.
A business owner stays aware of its competition by adapting to the changing needs of your consumers along with the advancements in technology. This would be the equivalent of researching competitive companies and what they’re doing to stay competitive in your market or location.
A business owner tracks changes in the market, industry, and audience and makes changes to stay afloat. They invest in help when needed. This would be the equivalent of investing in learning a new skill set that will help you in your current job or lead to a promotion.
Why don’t you do the same when you think of yourself as a professional?
The reality is, an employer doesn’t owe an employee loyalty. Just because you’ve worked for a company for a few years or decades, doesn’t mean your job is necessarily safe from no longer having a need to a business.
I’m not a fan of scare tactics, but this is just reality. No government or union can save you if your job disappears due to advancements in the industry your work in or the technology that supports it.
Directions: Use this journaling exercise as a way to discover your strong points and areas where you can strive to improve professionally.
Grab a notebook and write down the answer to these questions:
What are some of your workplace weak points?
What are some of your unique workplace capabilities?
What are some of your weak soft skills?
What are some of your strongest soft skills?
What are some of your weak technical skills?
What are some of your strongest technical skills?
Where do you have room to grow?
What do you want to develop yourself more professionally?
Shift 002: How to shift your mindset to get unstuck in your life and career
Another thing I really want to be straightforward about is your mindset around feeling trapped in your career. Nothing can change your life and career more than mindset mixed with the right action.
Here are a few things I did that truly helped me with a negative workplace mindset:
Every morning when you wake up, I want you to say positive affirmations to yourself while you look directly into your own eyes in the morning.
Do not wake up, shower, eat and rush to work without dedicating a little time to yourself to self-care.
Dedicate the first hour or two of every day to achieving your own personal and professional goals outside of the workplace.
Meditate in some fashion, whether it be by following an app like Headspace or simply waking up with enough time to watch the sunrise.
Directions: Read the following books to gain different perspectives on extremely important topics.
Directions: Use this exercise to brain dump any negative thoughts you have when it comes to the workplace and your career.
Grab a notebook and write down the answer to these questions:
Write down negative thoughts you have on the workplace and your career.
Write down your fears.
Write down spineless opinions, thoughts, and fears that are no longer serving you.
Shift 003: How to re-frame the way you think about time and priorities
If you’re looking to make a change in your life, it’s time to reevaluate the way you think about time. So much can change in just one week, if you play your cards right and utilize your time right.
One of the biggest things that will relieve your stress is by getting organized and revisiting your weekly priorities. Schedule out your week in advance and schedule the days around goals, not goals around your days.
For example, if I am applying for a new job while working full-time, I’d set out to get five applications out a day, seven days a week. I’d then write down on pen and paper what my week would need to look like to successfully hit my daily application goals.
Most days this would mean that I would wake up early, work on applications, follow up on any email responses during lunch, and opting out of after work distractions during the week when my application quota wasn’t met.
I did this before successfully, and I can tell you never did I ever regret the decision to stay home and work on my applications and career. It’s led me to incredible opportunities, flexibility, and happiness.
If you’re looking to make major shifts in your life, it’s time to take action, and that starts with respecting your time.
It’s time to learn how to prioritize your time better. There’s no reason to feel guilty for putting yourself first.
You may fall into the trap of telling yourself that something that I’m recommending is hard and time-consuming.
It’s not, but I can tell you what is hard and time-consuming, and that’s wasting your precious time in a job or industry that drains your soul.
But I won’t lie to you, you still have to show up and do the work to see actual results.
Speaking of reframing bad habits, develop healthier habits and better routines that are aligned with who you are as a person and professional.
I used to wake up every day, go straight to work, meet friends at the bar, and rush home to rinse and repeat.
I’d follow up by wasting my time on the weekend doing the same thing. The second I revisited my habits and made a change, my life and career took a major 360. I balanced my wants and needs to avoid stress and take action in my career.
If scheduling and time is something you truly struggle with there are a number of things you can do right now to avoid distraction and refocus your time by prioritizing your time better.
Directions: The following book on time management has incredible insights and actionable steps you can take to gain control of your time and schedule.
Shift 004: Your professional career is not a race against anyone except yourself
I also want to point out the fact that your career is not a race. You shouldn’t compare yourself to others, yet compare yourself to yourself.
Try your best not to spend time dwelling on not being at a ‘certain point’ in your career by a ‘certain age.’
It’s important to accept the beauty in our unique experiences and to say yes to opportunities of growth as you see fit.
Keep moving, use momentum, stay positive, and always try to live your best life - not someone else’s version of success or happiness.
Shift 005: Don’t rely on a support network to make changes in your life
The final topic I want to touch on before we begin is your support network. To be blunt, don’t set your hopes on relying on a support network or an accountability buddy to take action on anything in life and your career.
The harsh reality is, it’s up to you to make things happen for yourself. It’s not a single person’s job to make your dreams come true for you. So go out there and make it happen for yourself, even if it means you have to put in the work by yourself. Life can be as easy as you make it, but you still need to take action to see the results you crave.
Now that’s not to say being successful is lonely. My point is that you shouldn’t expect everyone or anyone around you to suddenly start putting in the mindset shifts and putting in the extra work it will take to get yourself to where you want to be in life, love, and your career.
Shift 006: A note on where you work and how much experience you have
Growing up in New York and eventually living in New York City, I always knew competition would be fierce in the professional world.
I took it upon myself to develop my skillsets in and outside of work and school to put myself in the best position when applying for opportunities. This opened doors for me quicker than expected due to acquiring in-demand skillsets and a supporting portfolio.
Also, it’s time to drop the idea that having years of experience means anything at all. Having clearly identifiable skillsets is more important than decades of experience in the workforce.
I’ve landed the most incredible job opportunities in my early twenties without a college degree and with my little experience because I was able to demonstrate my credibility and valuable skillsets.
Now let’s get started.