Mike is terrific at giving credit to others. Even when he does the majority of the work, he gives credit for the success of the project to the others who helped.
What comes to mind when you think of children? If you’re a parent, you will think of all the joy your child has brought to your life. For non-parents, you might think differently. For me, I think of the smiling faces of children.
Sure, children have their ups and downs. They may cry and throw tantrums. Their very nature though is to be happy.
Why aren’t adults the same? Adults feel like they need a reason to be happy. Something extraordinary has to happen. That’s unfortunate.
Happiness is a choice. You choose whether to live a happy life or a miserable life.
Bad things can happen to you and cause you all sorts of pain and anguish. Regardless, happiness is a choice.
In fact, we control what we think, say and do. We come up with reasons that “cause” us to say something or do something but it’s really our choice in how we react.
Earlier today, while helping my five-year old get ready to go to worship services, she started crying after I told her “no.” She said, “You made me cry, Daddy.”
She actually believes I made her cry but I didn’t. She chose to react in that manner to what I said.
Instead of making excuses and blaming others for your unhappy ways, you need to make something else. Make a habit of being happy.
You need to work at being happy. You need to create a habit of doing certain things that make you happy.
Below are five things you can do or shouldn’t do to make happiness a choice in your life.
Happiness Is a Choice
My wife and I exchange the saying, “Have a good day” quite often when I leave for work. I used to say, “I’ll try.” With that mindset, I would not have a good day. I needed to be positive about how my day would go.
You can make the choice of anything being good or bad. Sometimes, things may not go as planned but you can still have a positive outlook. Make your day start well or you will make it bad.
Be a Good Example
Even if you think no one sees what you do, someone will see it. If it is bad, someone will find out. It seems that everything becomes public these days, especially with the growing use of social media.
If you are late to a meeting, your co-workers will see it and either complain to someone or start talking about you. Neither is good. I’ve seen this happen several times. If you are a leader, it is even worse. Leaders should “lead by example.”
Notice how this heading is “be a good example.” It is very possible for you to be a bad example. All examples are one or the other. Choose to be a good example, even when no one is watching.
Have you noticed that doing good to someone will make you feel good too? Most volunteers involved in mission work say that they personally gained more from the experience than the persons they were there to help.
If you’re a good example, you’ll feel happier. That’s because happiness is a choice and you chose it.
You definitely choose what you say. No one else is putting words in your head. If you complain, you’re choosing to be a complainer. There are times when it’s necessary to vent. But venting often will start to look like complaining.
Not everything will go as you expect or desire. Don’t complain about it if that happens. Live with it; accept it. Choose to find the positive in it.
When you complain you naturally start to see the negative in life. When you choose to talk about good things, like giving praise to others, you’ll feel better about yourself and others. Good thoughts lead to even more good thoughts.
Turn your complaining into praise!
Do you love what you do? Do you get so into a project that you don’t know what time it is? Being passionate for your work will help you enjoy each day. You can choose to be passionate.
Be passionate about more though. Be passionate about your health. Choose to make healthy decisions with what you eat and how much you exercise.
Be passionate about your spouse. Most people would say they are passionate about their family. While this should be the case, are you most passionate for your spouse than your kids? I firmly believe (and practice) that my wife is the most important person in my life. I focus on her. Then, I focus on the kids.
Be passionate about something besides work and you’ll start being happier every day.
It’s Your Choice to be Happy
You make hundreds, if not thousands of choices each day. Look at everything you do as choices or decisions you can make. You will likely become more intentional about the outcomes of those choices and focus on your happiness as well as others’ happiness.
Don’t let someone else dictate your state of mind. Choose yourself to be happy.
Question for you: If you are a generally happy person, what are some habits that lead to your happiness?
David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, hosts a weekly podcast titled Rule Breaker Investing. In a recent episode, he discussed one of his long-term goals being to get rid of the term “long-term investor.” He argues the term is redundant. If one is investing, it is always for the long-term. People who buy and sell securities on a short-term basis are not investors, they are traders.
Regarding investing, I completely agree with him. Investing and trading both including buying assets in the hopes of value appreciation or making a return. However, only investing has a long-term focus.
Likewise, you can take a long-term or a short-term focus on your career.
When you’re a teen, or even in college, it might be okay to have a short-term focus on your career. Actually, it’s more likely a short-term focus on a job. You didn’t have a career back then, you had a job. It served one purpose – to make money.
After college, however, you started your career. That first place of employment, hopefully, was to serve as the springboard for the remainder of your career.
The Differences between Investing in Your Career for the Long-term and Short-term
What is the real difference between investing in your career for the long-term and investing in it for the short-term? Obviously the difference is a matter of focus on time.
Employees who focus on the short-term in their careers typically focus only on the amount of money they can make. If they can jump to a different employer and make just a couple of thousand dollars more, they’ll do it.
I’m not saying that is necessarily the wrong thing to do. Each person needs to make a decision for him or herself.
If you’re focused on investing in your career for the long-term though, you’d make a decision based on how staying with the same company or moving to a different company will impact your career for the next five plus years. You make the choice based on the long-term, not the short-term.
Sometimes, those decisions are based on lifestyle as much as, if not more than, the increase in pay. You should be able to have a life and work. If you work all the time, what good is that really? I learned that lesson in my career…
5 Tips for Investing in Your Career for the Long-term
Now that we agree investing in your career must contain a long-term focus, what actions can you take to help you achieve long-term success in your career? Let’s look at five tips that will help you have that long-term focus.
Focus on Personal Development
No matter what you do in your life, personal development is important. Developing yourself is the greatest long-term investment you can make for your career and your personal life.
Most people want to get better. Too many people though don’t create a personal development plan. Instead, they leave it all up to chance.
“I’ll read that book when I have time.”
That time never comes if you take that approach.
Make a plan to improve in all areas of your life. You won’t regret it.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
You can get really comfortable doing the same tasks every day at work. As long as it’s still enjoyable, you can do the same thing day after day. That’s good but to really succeed in your career you’ll need to expand beyond your current responsibilities.
You’ll need to take a few chances and not be afraid to change. You’ll want to ask for different and more challenging responsibilities.
I’ll give you an example from my career.
Within the first two years of my career, I in-charged several engagement’s called “directors’ exams.” I got really efficient with these types of engagements. Regardless of the staff I worked with, we would finish up a directors’ exam in about two-and-a-half days. Before this, it would take some people a full week to complete these jobs.
The more efficient and effective I became, the more money the firm would make. That was great for the firm. It was also great for my confidence.
There was one problem though.
I got bored!
At the point I determined I couldn’t do those engagements anymore, I chose to talk with my boss. I told him I was bored and wanted something more difficult to work on.
Naturally, I couldn’t just be taken off those jobs entirely but my schedule did change. I was scheduled on more difficult and more rewarding jobs.
That decision to speak up greatly helped my career.
Be a Generalist
Studies have shown that generalist CEOs make more money than specialist CEOs. Read this article from Cláudia Custódio with the W.P. Carey School of Business of Arizona State University and discover what she says about the topic.
Think about it. CEOs who are good communicators, are visionaries and lead by example have the ability to achieve excellence. They rely on the ability of people with different strengths than their own.
This is the same reason employees really good at performing a certain task do not make good managers of people with those same tasks. Just because you’re a good sale person does not mean you’ll be a good leader of salespeople.
Early in your career you’ll need to become an expert at something. Do that but also seek out ways to do other things. Take on other projects and learn new skills. Most importantly though, learn to be a better communicator.
Build Your Personal Brand
What you do right now in your career can have a lasting impact on your career. If you want to invest in your career for the long-term, you need to build your personal brand.
Whatever you put on social media today will be online forever. Make sure what you post agrees with the brand you’re trying to build. Regardless of how old a social media post is, it could come back to haunt you.
Your brand is more than your online presence, although very important, it is everything you do. Build your brand now to what you want it to be and it will open doors for you in the future.
“It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”
We’ve all heard this saying before. It may not seem fair but it is true. The relationships you build can provide you with opportunities down the road.
Don’t confuse relationships with acquaintances though.
Acquaintances can be helpful but they won’t put themselves on the line for you. People with whom you have build a close relationship will. You’ll do the same.
Remember though that when you align yourself with someone, make sure that person will represent your brand well.
Start Investing in Your Career Now
It’s never too late to start investing in your career for the long-term.
Looking to the future is always a good practice. However, you can’t forget about the here and now. If you don’t perform at a high level now, you can kiss the future goodbye.
Start investing in your career now by working hard, excelling at everything you do and thinking about the future.
Question for you: What have you done to invest in your career for the long-term?
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was recently released in movie theaters. It has set all sorts of box office records already and will continue selling an unprecedented amount of tickets. Because of the success of this iconic franchise, I figured there had to be some career lessons we can learn from these movies.
Achieving success in your career will not come without ups and downs. Some days success will seem eminent. Other days, it will seem impossible.
One tenet of career success is having an open mind; a willingness to learn — from any source. Any source can even mean fictional movies with make-believe characters.
Following are 4 career lessons we can learn from Star Wars:
Your Impact Can Be Great
George Lucas set the bar high when Episode IV was released in 1977. Before it’s release, the critics were not very positive about the movie. George Lucas knew, however, his movies would have a great impact on people.
He wasn’t trying to win best picture. Instead, he wanted to impact people by entertaining them. And that is what he did.
When I was making Star Wars, I wasn’t restrained by any kind of science. I simply said, ‘I’m going to create a world that’s fun and interesting, makes sense, and seems to have a reality to it.’
For almost 40 years now, the Star Wars franchise has appealed to the masses by entertaining them.
Your impact on the world can also be great because you are great. You are an expert in something and it’s your duty to share that expertise with the world.
Just like Star Wars, you can start small, i.e., the first movie, and start providing value. After you make a small impact with your small start, you can leverage that into having a bigger and better impact on others.
It Takes a Team to Win
Han Solo had a partner in Chewbacca. Luke Skywalker relied on R2-D2 when he crashed on Dagobah. They each had someone to rely on.
In fact, though, it took the entire Rebel force to win. Each of the primary characters in Star Wars had special talents that supported the entire team.
The most successful people in history have learned they can’t achieve success by themselves. It takes teams of people with different talents and abilities to achieve success.
You may like working with others who have your same mindset and tendencies because it is comfortable. If you do that for too long, you’ll realize you are getting nowhere fast because you don’t have every ability you’ll need.
It takes a team of people to make a lasting difference in the world. Isn’t that what you want to achieve through your career?
When Yoda told Luke Skywalker, in The Empire Strikes Back, to raise his crashed fighter from the swamp, Luke responded with “Alright, I’ll give it a try.” Yoda, responds with my favorite movie line of all time.
“No. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.”
We need to heed Yoda’s advice in everything we do. Saying we will try is limiting our abilities. Trying shows a reservation of doubt of our abilities. We need to just do.
Take this one step further into the religious realm. Jesus, in Matthew 5:37 tells his listeners to answer simply with a “Yes” or “No.” Any other answer than that, He says, comes from the evil one.
In your career, believe you have great abilities and you will accomplish great things. When someone asks you to do something, say “Yes” or “No,” instead of “I’ll try” or “Maybe.”
You are only as good as you believe you are.
It’s Okay to Fail
Darth Vader did not tolerate mistakes of any kind. He expected his followers within the Empire to be perfect. If they made a mistake, he would use the Force to choke them to death.
Hopefully you don’t work for a boss like that.
The Rebel Alliance, however, made many mistakes and lost many battles. That did not cause them to give up or turn on one another. They continued pressing on toward their goal.
We need to do the same thing in our jobs and careers, in fact, in all aspects of our lives.
We’ve all made mistakes and had setbacks but that doesn’t mean we should quit.
Children fail all the time. They fall when they try to walk. They fall when they ride a bike. Imagine if they stopped getting back up and doing it again. We adults forgot how to learn.
We need to remember the importance of learning from failure.
The most important of the career lessons we can learn from Star Wars is…
So far, the Star Wars series has spanned a period of almost 40 years. That’s amazing.
Few movie franchises have been able to survive over that long of a period, much less with as much fanfare as Star Wars continues to have. The only other one I can think of is the James Bond franchise.
Your career is the same. You shouldn’t expect to reach the corner office within the first year in your career. It’s going to take time. Lots of time.
Be patient as your career evolves. Reaching success too quickly would most likely have one of two results: immediate overwhelm or boredom.
Instead of being impatient with your career and always hoping/looking for something more, enjoy each step of your journey.
A career is a journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Question for you: What other career lessons have you learned from any of the Star Wars movies?
For each of the last three years, I’ve asked you to describe your year in one word. While you can’t encompass an entire year’s worth of activities, feelings and experiences into one word, it can help you simplify your daily routine and allow you to focus on what’s most important to you.
The individual words I’ve used to describe those respective years have been:
2013 – Intentional
What have your words been?
When I look back at those years, I believe I’ve been able to live that year with a focus on that one word. In no way am I saying those years were perfect. They were far from it. But, I made strides in all aspects of my life because of the focus on that word for the year.
We can’t live by our past accomplishments. We should always be improving our lives, one day at a time.
We should, however, relish our past experiences, learn from them and make changes going forward to hopefully not make the same mistakes but to improve on our successes.
Describe the past year in one word
When you look back at 2015, did it live up to your expectations? Did you accomplish what you had hoped?
If not, why didn’t you? Was it because of things out of your control or was it because you didn’t have a consistent focus each day of the year? Maybe it was both.
Did you set a word at the beginning of 2015 to guide you through the year? If not, that’s okay. Don’t dwell on it. Learn from it.
Describe your year in one word
For 2016, what word will you use to focus each day? You can describe your year in one word. What will it be?
Maybe it’s something related to work, personal relationships or spirituality. If you can find one word to describe every aspect of your life in 2016, use that. If not, you could pick separate words to describe each aspect of your life.
After you choose your word, take a piece of paper and write it at the top. Then, write ways your can apply that to every aspect of your life. Keep that paper with you at all times. Maybe keep it in your wallet or your purse.
Look at it often to remind yourself of your goals for the year.
My word to describe all aspects of 2016 is going to be “consistent.”
I believe by being consistent at work, with my family and friends, with God and with myself, that I will achieve great things in 2016.
If you catch me not being consistent during the year, please call me out on it. I know I won’t be perfect but that doesn’t mean I won’t strive for perfection.
Question for you: How will you describe your year in one word?