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This month marks a year since I started working at my full-time job which caused me to ask one rather large question: what have I learned? The simple answer is alot, but hey, I know you aren’t reading this to hear an answer as vague as that. I spent a lot of time reflecting over the week and I have come up with a short list of the most important things that I learned in my first year of working. (As a disclaimer, my current job is not my first ever job. I’ve had loads of part-time/summer jobs over my life but never one I considered an “adult” job.) Here is my list of what I learned:
1. Anticipate the Need
The best tip that I can give to those new to the workforce is to anticipate what is needed before it’s wanted. The biggest question I ask myself every morning at work is “what will my boss need today” and I start there. By being an employee who solves potential problems before they happen (or even as they happen), you alleviate future stress for your coworkers and boss. This makes you an invaluable part of your team and really shows that you have the potential for more responsibility. It’s also the best feeling in the world to hear your boss rave about you to other employees in the office because of your efficiency and performance.
2. Be a Team Player and Get Involved
This one ties into the first tip, but I wanted to reiterate how important it is to remember that you are a part of a team. Unless you work completely independently (and even then you probably have a team of support virtually) you will have to learn how to be part of a workplace dynamic. We spend more time with our coworkers than anyone else in our lives, so we might as well get along with them, right? You are all part of a common goal and getting involved in your office space will only help you grow.
3. Prioritize Your Off-Time (and Take Vacation!)
The biggest immediate change I noticed from going from graduate school to the workforce was the amount of free time I had. It dramatically decreased (no brainer) and I had to learn how to get things done during evenings and weekends. I have many evenings where all I want to do is go home, lay on the couch, and have a glass of wine because I’m so exhausted. When I do that the errands and chores pile up. I have learned to prioritize doing important tasks during the week, even when I don’t feel like it, so that my weekends don’t feel so hectic. No matter how good you are at prioritizing though, sometimes balancing work and a busy life can just be plain overwhelming. To that I say, take a break! You earn vacation days during the year, so take them! Having a few days off from your job leads to higher overall productivity, happiness, and will reduce your stress levels. Never feel guilty for taking days off from the office. You’ve earned it!
4. Keep the Bigger Goal in Focus
I have days where I can get hung up on the little things and it can totally ruin my mood. What I have tried to do when this happens is to keep the bigger goal in focus. Remembering why I work at the company that I do and how I am impacting the lives of those around me helps to keep these little annoyances in check. Thinking about what you like about your job and what you are grateful for is a perfect way to keep a bad day or week in perspective.
5. Have Fun
This last tip may seem a bit obvious but it is so easy to forget to have fun at work! While I know that work isn’t fun all of the time, I learned in my first year that my coworkers are really amazing people that bring a lot of happiness into my life. My favorite day of the week is when my boss and I have our weekly meeting- we spend a good chunk of it decompressing and laughing because we both need to after a long week. I never mind being at work because I know that everyone around me makes me happy. Bottom line: you can be amazing at your job and have fun.
There are so many other things that I could include in my list of what I’ve learned from work. It’s cheesy to say it but I really do learn something new everyday. I’m still learning how to balance a career, personal hobbies/goals, a social life, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s alot! Some weeks I am amazing at balancing it all and some weeks I’m merely treading water. But, hey, I’ve also learned this year that that’s pretty normal!
What are the most important things that you have learned from your job? How do you balance work and your outside life?
Have a great weekend everyone. See you back here on Monday! xx