The transition to a new year is a time traditionally set aside for reflection and renewal, but we’ve all experienced too many times the setting of big goals in January that fall apart just a few weeks later. Often, that’s because they are just that – too big. So big, that keeping to it means a dramatic shift in our daily routines. And because we human beings love our routines, change ignites in us a primal response for fight or flight. So, we flee from the big goal and settle back into the comfortable, despite our best intentions.
Then how do we achieve lasting change? Make positive progress? The trick, according to the Japanese concept of ‘kaizen‘, is to make continuous small improvements. So small, in fact, that it’s almost laughable to think about not keeping the change. So achievable that even at your most exhausted moment you can conceive of getting up off the couch to do it.
Here’s a few ideas for small, manageable goals that can help you find or create your dream job:
- Decide on a direction. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about where you want to go in your career. It can be when you’re on the bus, in the shower, walking around the grocery store – but this mental prep time will help drive your daily decisions at work once you know what you really want out of your career.
- Work an extra 10-15 minutes per day. Whether you come in a little early or leave a little late, your boss will take note that you are putting in an extra few minutes to make sure everything is handled. This extra few minutes can make a world of difference when it’s time for your review, or when the next promotion comes up, because you’ve shown every day that you’re dedicated to getting the job done right.
- Call an old classmate or instructor. Just one phone call can help renew a relationship and keep your networking skills working for you, and you never know who’s doing what as time goes by…they may just have the perfect job waiting for you!
- Make your bed every day. It takes only a few minutes, but it can set the tone for your day.
- Give a compliment. Never underestimate the power of positive communication in your life and work. People naturally gravitate to those who make them feel good, and you’ll feel better about yourself for being the cause of someone’s smile. And as you know, the more people like you, the easier it is to get help finding your next job when you need it, because they’ll want to work with you and feel confident in recommending you to people they know.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” U.S. Navy Adm. William H. McCraven told the graduates of the University of Texas in 2014. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” he said. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.*
Now, the challenge for 2017 is, what small thing can you really do that will stick?
*Source: Today.com, http://www.today.com/news/navy-seals-advice-grads-make-your-bed-every-morning-2D79695461, emphasis added