People used to follow a straightforward path in their careers from education to steady employment and on to retirement. But the world has changed, and it’s more important than ever to know how to adapt. In Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO (2015), Beverly E. Jones outlines her tips for becoming a more agile, resilient professional in charge of her or his career.
New beginnings are exciting, but a strong start requires more than just a positive outlook, something the author, Beverly E. Jones, learned the hard way.
On her first day at a Washington law firm 30 years ago, she faced a surprisingly chilly reception. A senior partner even told her that he didn’t see why his colleagues had hired her. She would need to prove herself to get work inside the firm, he told her. She spent her first day with nothing to do – no one offered her any work, and she hadn’t prepared anything for herself.
Things quickly got better, partly because she learned something from the disaster of the first day right away: no one else was going to make her successful – she had to do it herself. On day two, she had already begun planning ways to keep busy, manage clients and make others inside the firm aware of what she could do.
These days, an employer would probably do a better job of onboarding you to a new job. But creating your own plan for success is still crucial, and a few tricks can help.
Figure out what your boss wants. Keep an eye on her schedule, how she prefers to communicate, and what she needs to keep her bosses happy. How does she typically share information with both subordinates and superiors? Don’t expect to be told these things.
As you start to settle in, set yourself realistic objectives that you can work toward in the short term. Prioritizing and achieving goals will help keep you on the right track. High-priority items can be included in this, but so can small, achievable things like scheduling introductory meetings with new colleagues.
Put in an intense effort for four to six weeks, giving an extraordinary amount of focus to kickstarting your new endeavor. Clear your calendar to focus on work – it won’t be sustainable for the long term, but it doesn’t need to be. Set a deadline for transitioning back into a more normal life, satisfied that the intense work you’ve put in is a worthwhile upfront investment. This step isn’t likely to be easy but, as the CEO of your own career, laying the groundwork for future success is crucial.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on your stress as you adjust to a new and unfamiliar environment. Take responsibility for managing this and be sure that you invest time in a fitness program that will help you stay cool-headed and energetic. The only person who can keep you healthy and functioning at your best is you.