Approximately once a year I question the career equivalent of the meaning of life. What purpose do I bring? How different would things be if I used my talents elsewhere instead? Do my contributions matter? Is this 40+ hour workweek worth it?
Even if your career is well-established, a period of change or a period of stagnation can make you feel a bit lost. At those times when your professional environment is not providing engaging experiences, it becomes important to re-energize yourself.
This simple formula to do just that applies very broadly, no matter your level or source of employment. You could be a student, an entrepreneur, a specialist, a generalist, a director, a coach, or a president. When you know yourself, do good work, and celebrate your accomplishments, you create a foundation for further success.
Your personal-professional brand is the unique value that you bring, with the key word being “you.” It is the collective image of your personality, your skills, your abilities, and your interests. It is “what you do around here” and it’s crucial because that is how people judge your success and it is often how you judge your own success as well. Put it into words and create a cohesive “about me” statement or “elevator speech.” It’s OK if it is a little aspirational—we often become what we think and what others say about us.
Work in a way that allows you to be at your most productive and efficient. Ensure you are not spending time on busywork. Find the important work, and focus your energy on it. For example:
Note how different this is than responding to emails, reacting to fires, engaging in last-minute tasks, and sitting in meetings. Evaluate how you spend your time, and spend your time consciously.
The last step is focusing on the value you bring, with the key word being “value.” Simply doing good work is not enough if others never know about it. Yes, it can be awkward to share our own accomplishments with others without feeling as if we are boasting. To overcome that, point to the facts and tell a story about the process you took. Talking about your work encourages deeper processing and stronger critical thinking, which helps you learn from your failures and successes, and it can help others as well.