Ten Tips for Career Success and Happiness

With more than a month of 2017 already gone, it might be time to revisit those New Year’s Resolutions!   Here are my keys to being both successful and happy.

Take risks and challenge authority.

The most successful relationships are built on mutual respect. Instead of saying “yes,” when given an assignment, carefully consider business implications. Don’t be afraid to offer ideas and solutions that may seem against the norm. Your ability to take initiative, generate new ideas, and deliver thoughtful and purposeful work and counsel will earn you respect and grow your role beyond that of a tactician and into a true strategist.

No excuses

Its easy to make excuses for why your life isn’t going the way you want.   Do you blame professors, bad bosses, annoying clients, the economy, etc., for your issues and problems? If you answered yes, you are already in self-defeat mode.  Instead of coming up with the list of excuses of why things have not gone your way, consider how you can change your behaviors and attitudes. Take responsibility for yourself and your choices.

It doesn’t matter whether you work on a team, or whether your professor or boss is difficult and unreasonable. The actions you take and the mindset you hold is yours alone. If you are committed to positive results, academically, personally and professionally, you can take the initiative and action and to make things happen. Stop beating yourself and others up for things that happen.   Take responsibility for your role in both successes and mistakes.

Make an impact!

Focus on clients, projects, and priorities with the highest opportunities for meaningful results. Don’t get distracted by process or minutia.

Stop complaining.

It is easy to dwell on reasons our career, lives, and families are challenging, unreasonable, or stressful. In 2014, instead being negative, take control and change your situation for the better. And as the cliché goes, “choose your battles”—stop stressing about organizational or personal situations you truly cannot change.

Avoid drama.

You are never going to win an argument with someone who isn’t rational. Instead, turn the demand or rant your boss or client spouted into a calm and positive opportunity. Don’t get defensive or seek validation; overcome your need to be right or prove a point. Walk away from situations that truly aren’t worth your energy. This includes office gossip.

Admit you’re human.

Take responsibility for your errors. Admitting you are wrong and working to rectify the situation in a thoughtful manner builds camaraderie and encourages an honest approach to business.

Maintain perspective.

We aren’t doing life-saving surgery, fighting a war, or solving the debt crisis. It may feel like that sometimes, but although the work we do may be important and meaningful, maintain perspective and lose the self-importance.

Get over it!

Your professor, boss or client criticizes your work, or worse, you. Not everyone is going to love your  work all the time. Your openness to suggestions or criticisms and ability to  learn from them, and not dwell on the negative, will serve you well.

Turn off the devices.

Being accessible 24-hours a day not only kills work/life balance, but it also sets unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. Truly shutting down for even a few hours a day will lessen your stress and help you recharge your body and your brain.

Consider your legacy and be benevolent. 

We are all too young to think about our long-term legacies, yet take a moment to think about how you wish to be remembered and reflect on how you are living your life. If you honestly consider how you are perceived by colleagues, friends, and family, you  may change your behavior, relationships, and perhaps even your professional  path.

Volunteer, take on a pro-bono client, and consider building your corporate social responsibility offerings or career path. Working to improve society should be an element of everyone’s work and lives, regardless of the profession.

Best wishes for a productive, prosperous, joyful, and healthy 2017.

Lorra M. Brown is an associate professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. and was a former senior executive at Ogilvy and Weber Shandwick.  Follow her on Twitter @LorraBrownPR.


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