You have been to numerous career talks, seminars, webinars and drives, looking for hints and hot leads that would guarantee you a successful career. Over time, you find a pattern; most of them will highlight the importance of dressing professionally, having a “just do it” attitude, and working harder and longer than everyone else. After all, the job market is a very competitive world, and as a result, millennials are competing against each other. Therefore, they will do whatever it takes to secure a job, especially if it contributes to our long-term career goals. I concur with that logic; we should strive to work hard and become extraordinary, especially if the mission is to earn the trust and respect of our bosses.
I agree that having a career is essential, but so is taking care of our personal lives. It is not wrong to set ourselves high expectations and force ourselves to go beyond the call of duty. However, when we bite more than we could chew, that is the start of us neglecting the priorities in our personal lives. Instances of us bringing work home will soon become a norm. Work can get so demanding that it begins to invade our personal space and drain the life out of us.
To those who are about to start a new career chapter, I only have this to say: be a realist. Adopt realistic, healthy habits right even before you officially start your new job and keep these habits with you for life because your work is not as important as your wellbeing.
1. Work as hard, if not harder, as your colleagues.
Your time has value. Hence, remember that the more willing you are to work, the more likely work will find you. Although putting your work limits to the test may seem like the quickest way to gain your colleagues’ respect, take note that doing this gives your colleagues permission to put high expectations on you. It may be a positive thing at first glance, but if you start working longer and clock in at work on the weekends, you will start to expect too much from yourself, which is not healthy.
Most people work for someone else’s dreams, and so if your employer sees that you are getting a lot of tasks done, your employer is poised to give you more work. If you have the time and energy to complete additional work professionally without imploding, by all means, go ahead. Otherwise, inform your employer that you are already stretched thin.
“There is no passion to be found in playing small — in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.”Nelson Mandela
Also, here is a handy note: follow the herd. What that means is getting to know the number of hours your colleagues are putting in. If your colleagues are clocking out around four every day, make an effort to follow along. If they are staying for a few more hours to complete additional tasks, join them. Obviously, your workload relies significantly on whether you can or cannot clock out. But, then again, do not take for granted the control you can exert over your workload simply by putting in realistic hours.
2. Be transparent about your boundaries.
“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”Marilyn Monroe
Getting used to the nine-to-five lifestyle can be difficult to accomplish, especially when you are not an early riser. When the workload begins to build, it can be hard not to give our all and work long hours, only to spend the evening watching a Netflix film. Unfortunately, this is a trap many people have fallen into.
Instead of succumbing to that illusion, allocate some time to pinpoint your personal and professional goals. For example, you could be a part-time photographer, freelance writer, a parent, etc. Identify the necessities in your life that enable you to live a well-balanced lifestyle and then form a well-thought-out blueprint to incorporate all of them around your career. Your blueprint will be unique to you, and there is no need to panic if everyone else has a different plan. For example, your weekly routine may include running and swimming, whereas your colleague’s timetable may consist of a weekly book club participation and gardening. The most crucial element is to be committed to making time for the things that keep us well-rounded and form reality-based objectives that allow them to happen in our lives.
3. Seek help when needed.
Seasoned employees and professionals who have spent years working in their respective fields are not afraid to call for help when they are feeling overwhelmed. By default, we should not silence ourselves when we are struggling to keep up with our work. Part of working in a corporate setting is encouraging supportive connections with our colleagues. Connections are just like communications: it is a two-way street. It is imperative that we display our eagerness to offer assistance whenever and wherever we can and humbly accept additional work. Simultaneously, however, it is also vital that we feel at ease calling for help ourselves.
“One of the biggest defects in life is the inability to ask for help.”Robert Kiyosaki
If we continue to remain silent about our struggles, even when we feel like we are on the verge of imploding, our colleagues will never be aware of our desperations. Therefore, it is important to cultivate a professional setting that welcomes transparency and to foster a “give and take” relationship immediately from the start.
Final 2¢: Think from a different perspective.
I highly recommend you throw away what you think you know about starting your new job on the right path. Rather than wondering anxiously about surprising your colleagues with your professionalism, pay attention to cultivating a healthy, happy and productive relationship with work. Ultimately, putting our healthy habits first before work is the most logical means to have a productive lifestyle at work that is easy to maintain.