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Why You Should Take The Time to Appreciate Your Progress at Work

progress-sign-white

progress-sign-white

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin

It makes sense.

You chip away at progress.

It isn’t just a sprinkle of magic that leads to a finished project.

It can feel like a little luck had something to do with it, but it’s always due to hard work that added up to achieve your goal.

It’s this progress that you see that helps you define your hard work. You can point to all the hours that you put in and understand why you did it.

Feeling productive is a human trait that is in 99% of us. We want to feel like we aren’t stuck in a loop doing the same crap every single day. We want progress.

Something from Nothing

So that means working on projects that are just an idea and seeing them come to life. Passion projects that light us up inside.

I remember when I worked on a project for six months to help us reach more young customers. Management kept stalling. We would meet and go back to the drawing board.

It wasn’t going to be a cheap campaign, but it done right we could really see a lot of growth over the next 2 – 4 years.

Most of the senior leaders wanted results in 6 – 9 months. We didn’t want to promise these results because it was our first time marketing to such a young group.

They eventually pulled the plug on the project and we kept on doing the same marketing we did the year before and the year before that.

I felt like I wasted 6 months of my life.

The Process

There was a lot of personal growth in that situation, but I didn’t see it for years after.

I stopped working as hard and coasted along.

I felt much more lethargic because I felt my progress at work had stalled.

I wished I worked somewhere else.

Some of the happiest people in the world are janitors. They are happy because their goal is clear. They walk into a dirty room, clean it and walk out happy.

Simple.

Right?

Not as simple as you might believe.

There are a lot of janitors that are unhappy because they might feel like they want to do different kind of work. If they don’t believe that their time is well spent they will probably hate their work.

The janitors that are happy find it easier to be happy if they take the time to notice the progress that they make at work.

Focus on Outcomes

Many of you who work at large organizations don’t get to see the end results of your hard work. You hand it off to another department and you get to work on the next project. Sometimes you get an update, but it’s hard when you are busy with the next project.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the outcome of your hard work.

Great questions to ask yourself are:

  1. How has my work made a difference in other people’s lives? (Your company, the customers, other employees, etc.)
  2. How has my work contributed to my success?
  3. What could I have done better to improve on my next project?

Keeping track of your hard work and the outcomes will help you appreciate your progress as well as find things you could do to improve. It always comes back to finding ways to be a little more grateful to help improve your mindset. Click here to get the 5 Tools Top Professionals Use now to help grow your career.

I like to keep a journal to help me review what I’ve done over the day, week, month and year. The end of year review is my favorite because it’s my bird eye view to my progress.

Your Turn

Look at how you can keep track of your progress. Do you follow up with other departments asking for updates on the project you handed off? Do you keep a journal? Do you ask your boss for feedback on your work?

It’s up to you, but appreciating your progress is one of the quickest way to bring happiness into your career. The best part in tracking your progress is that you can put the project on your resume.

An Open Letter to All Bosses Who Don’t Listen

Open Letter to Your Boss
Open Letter to Your Boss

This article was inspired by an email I received from a reader last week:

Dear Karl,

I truly want to work happier, but I feel stuck. I received your email last week about being a great leader. I’m sad to say that my boss is a true jerk. I’ve tried to talk to him, but he is always too busy or when I try to speak up he just cuts me off. There is no way he would ever ask for my feedback. I feel lost. I have a young child and I really don’t want to look for another job. I like my work, but I don’t know how much longer I can stand working for my boss.

Thanks for whatever advice you can give,

Struggling at Work

Here is a nice supplement to this article – 7 Proven Ways to Encourage Employee Happiness and Engagement

Here is my reply (An open reply to all the bosses who fail to listen to their employees problems and ideas).

Dear Struggling at Work,

I’ve been in your position before.

My first boss out of college who wouldn’t listen to me and also kept putting me down. After researching a company shirt for him he wanted an update, so I went into his office.

After one minute of explaining the different local print shops we could use, he held up his hand for me to stop talking.

He asked me if the sizes come in Double XL. I wasn’t sure. I told him I could go and find out.

He shook his head, looked down into his lap, then at me and said I could have a monkey do a better job on this project.

He killed my confidence with that one sentence.

I share this with you because I’m a proud man, but as a young man I was afraid to stick up for myself. No one deserves to be treated that way and I didn’t have the confidence to be strong.

Every time I would try to present an idea he would brush me off. He didn’t even try to pretend like he listened to me. He just ignored most of my ideas.

I wish I could share with you that eventually I stuck up for myself and my boss respected me. This never happened.

I worked there for two years and hated working for him the whole time I was there.

I was lucky to have a great manager, in another department, that helped guide me. He hated to see me leave the company, but he supported me.

That was over fifteen years ago.

Now I’m much more confident and willing to speak up. It’s taken a lot of practice, but so worth my energy.

My hope is that you have or can find someone who can help guide you a work, someone in a different department, HR, a mentor, or a coach.

I realize that many bosses aren’t very good listeners, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make improvements in the working world. Bosses and managers should seek training to improve their listening skills and be better coaches to their employees.

They need people like you to lead the way.  They need someone to say you aren’t very good at this right now, but I know you have the talent to be a great leader.

I know it’s hard to step up and say something difficult and maybe feels impossible, but it’s not. Boss by boss and manager by manager we can encourage them to be better listeners so they create a happier work culture. When they understand that with improving their listening and communication skills they will help build a stronger team.

Real improvements in the workplace cultures through America and other top down managed cultures need a wake up call. They must know that these bad habits can’t continue.

REMEMBER:

You don’t need to do this one your own. You have a lot of power if you are willing to ask for help.

For example you could ask for help within your company. You could seek help and advice from someone outside the company as well, to see if they’ve been through something similar and how they improved their situation.

Guess what?

They probably have.

When we are willing to go find help and be a little vulnerable that’s when we can work on improving ourselves and our career.

Your turn…

How do you find the strength to ask for help when you need it the most?

Would you like to improve your leadership skills? Then take a look at how I help people with my leadership coaching program. I’m taking applications for next month.

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