Stop Talking About What You Need to Do

I normally love the holidays but personal circumstances left me feeling a little low this past season. I found myself getting irritated a lot more easily with the people around me and the tasks I had at hand. Like many people, I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed out until I realized, there was nothing left to do. I was all set for Christmas. The stress that I was feeling was coming from other people and I was taking it on as if it were my own.

In fact, when I think back to the month of December, every time I felt frustrated or panicky was when I was talking to my friends and family about all of the things that were on our to-do lists.

I love my friends and family, obviously, and I love helping them out but I realized that talking about all of the stuff that needed to get done wasn’t actually helping anyone out at all. Not only was I subconsciously taking on other people’s tasks as my own, but we weren’t even doing any of the things that we said we were going to do. We were just talking about it.

And sure, it feels good to talk things out and get a clear picture in your head of what needs to be done. Or maybe you find it helpful to get another opinion about your plan of attack. But the more we talked about what needed to be done, the more we talked about it, and the more we put it off. Strategies were formed, dissolved and discussed over and over again. It felt like we were being productive and we weren’t. We were wasting precious time and it was making us even more stressed out.

Even though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (at least, ones that stick), this year I’m enforcing a new rule on my life: do the s#&! you say you’re going to do. Don’t talk about it; just do it. (Nike has been saying it for years, so it must be true, right?)

I mean, we can still talk. It’s good to check in with friends and family, or to ask for help, even if it’s just organizing your thoughts. But let’s multi-task, shall we? The more we get done, the less we’ll have to discuss, and then just maybe we can talk about something fun- or we could just brag about how 2019 is going to be the best year ever!

What are some of the things that you’ve been talking about forever that just never seem to get done? This is the year we’re going to do it! Tell us all about your plans below or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and let me know how it’s going.

I’m always looking for the best ways to manage my time and workflow more effectively and efficiently. If you’re looking for more ways to increase your productivity as well, click here for more strategies that I’ve developed and researched and here for more ways to stay organized. For more ways to deal with your busy lifestyle, click here.

Professional Development is Your Project

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The problem with high school is that there’s a lot of people telling you what to do, where to be, and how you need to complete x,y and z in order to get your diploma.

Then in university or college you’ve got a little more freedom to decide how and when you do things, but you still have to meet the prerequisites to graduate, and do more schooling, or become a whatever and by then you’ll have totally figured out how to do things for yourself, right?

Unfortunately, I’ve found this isn’t always the case. Sure, each workplace has a certain set of rules you have to follow, and most jobs have a job description that you have to adhere to. But your job is just you job; your workplace is just where you work. That is, for now. Who helps you to decide when it’s time to move on? Who tells you what to do to gain upward mobility in your company? What the prerequisites for getting promotions? For changing careers? For scaling back?

For some, knowing that your career has the ability to head in whatever direction you want is really freeing. Others might be totally cool with finding a good position and sticking with it, providing it meets their lifestyle needs. If you’re one the latter, congratulations- it sounds like you’re already in the place that you need to be.

I think most of us meet somewhere in the middle (myself included). We crave the autonomy to make our own decisions about when, where and what we work at (exciting!); at the same time, we wish there was someone to guide us where we need to go otherwise how else do we find our way of getting there? (Scary!)

It’s kind of brutal, but it’s the truth: professional development is your project.

Don’t panic; it’s actually pretty liberating. Does it require a certain amount of discipline and motivation on your part? Totally. But you’re in change of when, where and how you want to develop yourself professionally.

The most exciting (and challenging) part is deciding the what:

  • What skills do you want to acquire?
  • Which skills do you want to improve?
  • What contacts do you want to make?
  • What experience do you want to gain?
  • What do you want to get certified in?
  • What do you want to learn?

Once you’ve figured out the what, the how comes so much easier: take a workshop, join a club, go back to school, audit a class, attend a conference, get a membership, volunteer, shadow a mentor.

And read, read, read: books related to finding your ideal career or better yet, find the biography of someone who has achieved success at what you want to do. Read magazines, newspapers, blogs and other industry publications to keep your knowledge current.

You may want to map out what of some of these steps look like on a long-term scale. What are some of your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to go? Where do you want to end up?

Or maybe you’ve already found yourself in a good place career-wise and you’re looking to keep the momentum going. Your professional development projects might be more along the lines of expanding your target market, developing a new product, or re-branding your company.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to change it up, or hate challenging the status quo: professional development is definitely a project we have to take on ourselves. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. In a way careers can mimic- they can be ebb and flow and take us to destinations that we never thought were possible.

The beauty of it, is that you have the freedom to choose how you’ll navigate that flow, and hopefully you’ll end up somewhere wonderful.

At the very least, I hope you enjoy the ride.

KBwB-BFlower-50What are some of the professional skills that you’ve been working on? Share your trials and tribulations below, or email me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

For more advice on navigating careers and the workplace, click here.

How to Do a Yearly Review

KBB_notebook_and_coffee_cupA little while ago I published a blog post on the wisdom of the weekly review. It’s one of my favorite ways to get perspective on all the roles I juggle within my life, but what happens when we’ve lost sight of why we’re doing and what we’re doing? Where exactly are our paths taking us? What does it all mean?! (Hey, I never said this blog wasn’t deep.)

I got the idea for a Yearly Review from Chris Guillebeau (he’s not my friend or anything, I’ve just read a bunch of his stuff) as a way of taking one giant step back and looking at the lessons you’ve learned over the year- what you’ve accomplished, what didn’t work for you. As a workaholic, I love the idea of getting stuff done but it all becomes meaningless when you find yourself working for the sake of working instead of actually working towards something.

At the beginning of last year, I told my story about how bad I am at goal-setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions (for the full confession, click here). It was a brief but interesting experiment in pulling back and examining what I really wanted out of my life. Inspired by Guillebeau, I’ve decided to take it to the next level and force myself to look at all aspects of my life in the same way, not just reading.

Depending on the commitments and goals that you have in your personal and/or professional life, you may want to tailor this process to fit your own particular needs. There are no right or wrong answers, and there aren’t really any rules. What I do suggest is booking some quality time with yourself- grab a latté, listen to some great music and take a little trip down memory line. (It may be handy to have your agenda and a notebook for this process.)

What did you accomplish this year? What deadlines or goals did you meet? Which new habits did you adopt that worked for you? What did you say yes to? What surprised you? Which project makes you feel the most proud? The happiest? What did you enjoy? What got you the most excited?

The ebb and flow of life means we experience positives and negatives, ups and downs. I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of both this year. You’re not alone in this- we all have! But instead of looking at the past year with regret, we can use these less-than-perfect moments to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just be honest.

What was a challenge for you this year? Which habits or behaviors didn’t work for you? Which projects or goals did you walk away from? Which things did you say no to? What would you like to see less of? What more do you wish you were doing?

If you’re a daydreamer like me and keep a someday/maybe list (here’s how to make your own here) you may want to use this time to review and gauge what you’ve accomplished, what you’d like to work on, and which of your priorities have changed.

What would you like to work on? Where would you like to be? What do you wish you had tried? What do you dream about the most?

This is not necessarily about goal-setting (although it can be) or forming a plan of attack for the year ahead (although in some aspects it is). Instead, I’m looking at my Yearly Review as a way to check in with myself- not as a daughter, or a sister, or a blogger- but my own human being self, the one that has wishes and goals are dreams that exist in both my external and internal realities that are all my own. It’s my cue to stop working and start thinking about what I want (and continue to want) from my life. It can be difficult because you’re asking big questions that don’t always have easy answers. Am I happy? Am I satisfied? Am I fulfilled? How do I continue to give to myself and to others?

More than a workflow exercise, the Yearly Review is a great way to figure out who you are right now as a human being, of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Don’t think this is a static exercise either! We’re constantly changing, learning and growing as human beings. You may want to make this a bi-annual practice, or something you do at the end of each month to feel a little more grounded. In any case, I hope that you all have an opportunity to take the time to yourself to figure out what you really want out of life. I give you permission. You deserve it!

KBwB-BFlower-50Do you have a similar ritual at the end of the year? What are the things that you’re the most proud of? What do you hope to work on for next year? I want to get to know you better so leave your comments below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com and we can have a chat.

Stay tuned because tomorrow on the blog I’m going to be celebrating the year’s end by highlighting some of my own favorite moments from my 2016 Yearly Review. Hope to see you then!