Editor's note: This is a guest post from Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living.
In 2007, I felt like I was trapped. Trapped like you would be in a cave, a closed space, a cell. Except I was a perfectly free person, living in the most free country in the world. Ironic, right? I felt so trapped in my job that I stopped seeing anything else. I turned blind to the world around me and all the opportunities that were open to me. And one by one, all the opportunities passed me by, as did the years, until I finally woke up and figured out the rules of the game.
I know now that I stayed only in a mental prison because the truth of the situation is that you are not ever trapped in a job. Ever. You simply create that condition in your mind and then project it to your perception of reality. When you feel that way, when you are miserable and powerless, it is very difficult to do anything but barely survive the days and the weeks of your job.
It does not have to be that way: not in any job, and least of all, in a corporate position. Today, I am going to teach you 3 actionable and powerful steps to get you back in charge of your corporate career and to help you not just survive but thrive in the workplace.
These steps are field-tested; that means that not only have I put them to the test in my corporate life of 11 plus years and seen them work brilliantly, I have also taught them to my coaching clients and watched them begin to thrive in their respective careers.
No one teaches us how to thrive in the corporate world when we are going through our schooling. No one pulls us aside and says, "Hey, don't ever do this because you will sabotage the rest of your career with saying this one phrase!" or "This is precisely how and why those idiots get ahead while you, a hard-working high-integrity person, stay grossly underpaid!" or "This is what you do to rise on the corporate ladder."
Yeah. I missed those lessons, and perhaps you might feel the same, too. Today, I hope that my bitter experience can serve as a lesson for you. Take these golden nuggets and apply them to your corporate situation.
Even though I resigned from corporate a year ago, I had an extremely successful career up to the day of my resignation. I know very well that a corporate career can be a great thing and land you a lot of opportunities but not until you learn how to play the game. It is a game whether you like it or not, baby, and I am going to show you how to win.
First, I want to emphasize the importance of your attitude because you have to apply the right attitude to the actionable steps that I teach you later.
Do a check-in with yourself right now: How is your attitude as you go through your day and interact with your peeps at meetings or on the phone? How is your attitude with your boss or the customers of the company or with other teams in the organization during collaboration projects? I want you to adopt the most professional attitude in every single encounter.
That means no more self-loathing, self-pity or self-misery whatsoever. Don't talk about it, don't act on it, don't feel it, if you can help it! Treat everyone with respect, don't start or engage in gossip, be cheerful, and show integrity in all that you do.
Now let's talk about the 3 quick and actionable steps in helping you move beyond survival and into the thriving land. These actions may require some guts and courage, so repeat this affirmation after me at least 3 times: "I have everything it takes to take these actions."
Here are those 3 actionable steps to enable you to thrive at corporate:
If you dread going into work altogether, if it zaps your energy and especially if you have a long commute to work, I want you to ask your boss to allow you to telecommute - which is a term that means you work from home - once a week if not more often.
Here is how you convince him or her:
- You can be more productive without the office distractions.
- You can get work done during the time that you are not commuting back and forth in traffic.
- You can really get more motivated with this one change in "scenery" and environment, and that can benefit your energy and vibe around the office.
You may wonder why your boss should do you "this favor" or why your company policy does not allow this. Trust me, you will be surprised at how you can create exceptions to your company policy. And as for motives for the boss, I give you two big ones:
- It's extremely cost-beneficial for companies to let employees telecommute. In fact, if you wanted to become a full-time telecommuter, it would really look good in the books for them but they don't always want you to know that.
- Your boss can get more productivity out of you by knowing that you will be happier and able to focus more and out of his/her hair so they can focus more. Especially if this is done on a once/twice a week basis.
2. Transferring to a New Project:
If you have lost your excitement for your current work and have no interest in doing the current project to which you are assigned, then remember it's not set in stone that you work on this one thing. There are many projects at every company and you can easily ask for a change. I want you to ask to contribute to a new project or an existing project in a different group.
Here is how you go about it:
- You remind your boss that the beginner mindset is extremely beneficial for allowing you to be your best and brightest and a new project helps you learn again.
- You research other projects and organizations and do the home work for your boss by making suggestions on which project to move you to and why you would be a good fit there.
- You show that it is to the ultimate benefit of the company to make sure employees change things up and grow and give their very best instead of becoming complacent.
3. Asking for a Raise:
Oh yes! You read that right! I want you to face your biggest fear and that is asking to be fairly compensated, especially if you are a good performer. This is the hardest thing for a corporate employee to understand: You do not get a raise automatically for doing good work, great work or even stellar work. At least, that's not the norm and it certainly was not at my Fortune 100 Company, even though it kept ranking high on Forbes' best places to work (with all due respect, whatever!).
Here are my top 3 tips on how to prepare your boss for giving you a raise:
- You set up a 1:1 meeting just to have this conversation. It does not matter if you have never had it before. Start now. And make it very clear that you want to discuss your financial compensation (as opposed to the pat-on-the-shoulder recognition).
- You go into that meeting preparing for all the questions you are going to ask and all the excuses you are going to hear. Check out my podcast episode for exact details on how to have this conversation.
- You will set correct expectations and not leave that meeting until you've made it clear to your boss that he will need to take care of this for you especially if you are grossly underpaid (Not that I was there or anything!), and then set up the next meeting for a follow-up.
Let me reassure you that you are not going to get fired by asking for a raise.
So those are my top 3 tips for you in creating the exact conditions that are going to help you thrive. I remember how scary it was and how terrified I felt every time I had to take each step above, but soon, I had set clear expectations with my management, received not one or two but three nice raises, and worked on a project that I truly enjoyed and pulled in less hours than ever before as a full-time telecommuter. To top it all off, I was the top performer that year in my performance review.
Now if that sounds good to you, take the actions above.
And if you want to work with me closely to learn precisely how you can apply these tips and more to your corporate career, check out my coaching program or sign up for my free and uncensored career tips.
Which suggestion has worked for you or did you use another technique?
Farnoosh Brock left a 12-year career at a Fortune 100 Technology in IT, engineering and project management in order to start her own company, Prolific Living Inc. Her business coaching program empowers unhappy professionals to transition out of the wrong job and teaches them how to turn their passions into profit. She podcasts at The Daily Interaction. She is also crazy about yoga, world travel and a little bit of photography and green juicing!
* Image courtesy of Kevin.
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