Many of us have to-do lists.
But what we really need is a “don’t-do” list.
As you transition into the new year and strive to reach your professional goals, it’s critical that you stop some of the tendencies that are slowing you down or getting in your way. Through our work in executive coaching programs, we uncovered some of these bad habits, every one of which has a negative impact on your life.
So add these to your brand, spanking-new don’t-do list.
#1: Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself to others—whether it’s the neighbors next door, work colleagues or leaders in your organization—is one of the most dangerous things that you can do. It almost always results in feeling bad about yourself and creates an unhealthy competitive relationship with others.
Either way, you are left feeling insignificant.
Stop the comparisons! You’ll drive yourself crazy.
Instead, create a clear and compelling vision that you have for your life and compare yourself to that vision. Refine that vision in a detailed document that describes every aspect of what you want for your career, family, relationships, and health. Stop subscribing to the notion that you can’t have it all. You are the architect of your life, but first you have to know what you are building.
Clarify your vision, live into that vision and then compare yourself to that vision instead of to others.
#2: Don’t Say, “I’m busy”
What’s the most common response people in the workplace give you when you ask them how they are doing?
Nine times out of ten they’ll reply “I’m so busy….” followed by a sigh.
Stop it. It’s incredibly annoying… and a little arrogant. And guess what? We are all busy. Which makes you exactly like everyone else and doesn’t do a thing to differentiate you from every other busy employee out there.
Instead, prepare a daily elevator pitch response—share something important in 20 seconds or less. Here’s a simple format.
Say something positive: "I’m excited about the work we are doing."
State something specific about a current or upcoming project: “The team is rolling out a new scheduling feature in our software platform."
Communicate the impact: "I expect this change to help us drive more subscriber revenue and meet our quarterly goal."
The next time you find yourself bumping into the CEO or other senior leaders in the proverbial elevator, you’ll have something important to say that will set you apart from all of the other busy humans you work with.
#3: Don’t Sleep In
Do you want to get a jump on success in the new year? Then don’t sleep in.
If you look at the habits of some of the most successful people in the world, one consistent trait you’ll find is that they get up earlier than most others. According to an article in Forbes magazine, Margaret Thatcher was reported to wake up every day at 5:00am; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4:00am; and Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, at 4:30am.
The Huffington Post reports that 90% of executives wake up before 6:00am on weekdays and 50% of self-made millionaires wake up at least three hours before their workday actually begins.
Need more proof? Time magazine stated that Apple CEO Tim Cook rises at 3:45am. General Motors CEO Mary Barra is in the office by 6:00am (so is Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz). Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt told Fortune he rises at 5:30am.
The list goes on.
The early bird gets the worm—even better, the early bird is successful.
#4: Don’t Start Your Day with Email
Now that you’re up earlier, don’t do tasks that are focused on other people’s priorities (the urgent, on-fire stuff in your inbox) and use your time intentionally. Don’t check email, don’t focus on the trivial. Instead, use the time when you are at your peak performance to focus on the important items: strategic planning, writing and prioritization.
You can also start your day more intentionally through a consistent habit of stretching and meditation, journaling and reflection. Create a routine that works for you and enables you to live with intention in the workplace, at home and in all of your relationships.
Don’t check email first thing in the morning. Do start your day with intention.
#5: Don’t Use Wishy-Washy Qualifiers
Ya know, kinda, sorta, umm, I don’t know, right?
These words add absolutely zero value and they make you look unassertive and weak.
And you aren’t.
You’re a powerful human being capable of anything. Delete these words from your vocabulary.
The worst one is when people end their sentences with “..., right?” This seems to be more prevalent in our high-tech clients than other industries for some reason. When you end your sentences with “right?!", you cut off conversation as others just nod or say yes. Instead, pause and ask, “What do you think?”
Your call to action
If you are interested in taking your professional career to the next level, join us for our complimentary Ascend to Lead Masterclass on February 14, 2018 from 8:00am - 9:15am mountain time.
The Ascend to Lead Masterclass is designed to help you be more intentional about the life you create and the leader you hope to become.