There are many ways you give your power away in your career, often without you even knowing it. Here are 6 that leap to mind, along with solutions for avoiding the power drain:
#1: You spend too much time and energy trying to change others.
We all do this. We want to change our boss, our co-worker, our husband—you name it. At one time, I felt as though I spent a lifetime trying to change a few people on my team.
Here’s the reality: You can’t. People only change when they want to. You give away your power when you spend too much time and energy trying to do the work for them–when you want it more than they do.
You may be doing it for their good. You may be doing it for your good. Either way, it’s no good.
Change your approach. Change the way you see them. Change your attitude. Change your circumstances. Change your mind.
Use your power for the one person you can change: you.
#2: You put all your eggs in one basket.
“Diversify” is the name of the game in your career today. Like any investment portfolio, you need to allocate and grow your assets to minimize risk and maximize return. These assets include: your time, your skills, your connections.
However, if you’re like most people, once you get a job, you stop looking. You stop networking. You stop staying in touch. You focus only on the job at hand, allocating all your assets to it. You don’t diversify, which can be risky.
It’s important to do your best for the company that hired you, but remember that this job is only one piece of your career portfolio—a portfolio that you need to continually build.
In today’s volatile world, you increase your risk the minute you take yourself completely off the market. You decrease that risk by learning new skills, meeting new people, staying in touch with your connections and watching the job market. That’s how you keep your options open.
That’s how you keep your power.
#3: You allow other people to define you.
You are not your title. You are not your executive level. You are not your salary. You are not a company’s definition of you.
You are your definition of you.
Case in point: I recently had a guest on my TV show who, when asked how he wanted his name displayed on the screen, gave his title as defined by his company. Oddly enough, this was not the job he aspired to—in fact, he disliked it so much, he was getting ready to hand in his notice. I asked him what he sees himself as, and he gave a better title—one that describes him and what he loves to do, not his place in a company.
When you allow others to define you, they have the power to change or take away that definition. And when they do, you not only lose your power, you lose your identity.
Your power needs to come from you—no one else.
That’s how you never give it away.
That’s how your definition of you is always yours.
#4: You can’t disconnect and just be.
In this over-connected world, many of you have become addicted to social media, email, and text. Left to your own devices, you’re always “on” and never “off.”
This addiction, like all addictions, leaves you anxious and powerless, and always wanting more, when you should be looking down less.
For instance: Do you lose the thread of an in-person conversation in the 3-dimensional world because you’re too wrapped up in the virtual world?
Do you keep your smartphone on all night?
Is your device right next to your bed?
Have you answered (or considered answering) correspondence from work in the middle of the night?
Need I say more?
Learn to work to live, not live to work.
Learn to disconnect and just be.
#5: You don’t take any, or all, of your vacation days.
Many of you that think your business, career, team–all of the above–would collapse if you weren’t there to constantly keep an eye on things. This is not handling business—and your health– right. It’s doing it all wrong.
This type of vigilance is a sure sign of insecurity, and, over time, will zap your power.
To gain confidence, do the opposite of what your anxiety dictates (like avoiding vacation!)
Taking a much-needed break actually increases productivity and lowers your chances of burnout.
In fact, a Framingham Heart Study, discussed in Prevention magazine revealed that, “Men who take regular vacations are 32 percent less likely to die of heart attacks, and 21 percent less likely to die early. And women who go on vacation have a 50 percent lower risk of heart attack.*”
Talk about power!
When was the last time you took a vacation?
#6: You don’t ask for what you want because you fear rejection.
You don’t ask for that raise. You don’t ask for a promotion. You don’t ask for a referral. You don’t ask for help.
Any of this sound familiar?
Many people think: “I’ll wait till I have more confidence (more experience, more this, more that), and then I’ll ask.”
But, confidence comes from doing, not waiting. It comes from moving past your fear and taking risks.
You’re actually rejecting yourself when you don’t ask, mainly because you don’t think you’re worth it.
There’s an old saying: “Don’t ask, don’t get.”
So, start asking and start getting.
Start believing you’re worth it.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan
*Excerpt taken from the Prevention magazine article, “4 Reasons to Take a Vacation” by Holly C. Corbett, copyright 2012