The best (work) gift to give yourself
It’s the season of gift-giving. For me, that means devoting hours to contemplating gifts I should give to my family and friends, and even more hours surfing the web for the best deals. This time of year fills me with a particular kind of dread: What if I give the wrong gifts? What if the gifts go underappreciated?
Gift-giving is a risk, even within your closest social circles.
For me, the hardest gift to give is one that is for me, from me.
I’m not just talking about purchasing that new guitar I’ve been eyeing for the past couple of months - although that certainly is on my mind - no, I’m talking about a gift that is much more important and somehwat more elusive. It’s a present that holds particular relevance to my professional work.
The gift of time to reflect and look ahead.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s harder in practice than in theory. Giving yourself time to reflect on your previous year and an opportunity to look ahead is essential not only for your personal growth, but for your professional growth as well. It’s important to chart where you’ve been and where you are to help you get to where you’re going. I probably stole that quote from somewhere, but hoping I avoid copyright infringement by loosely paraphrasing!
So how do you give yourself this gift?
Seeing as I’m in a marketing specialist role, it figures that I’ve developed a little question and answer process for the best, most practical results.
And no, I’m not saying you should take up hours of company time scratching your chin and looking wistfully into the fluorescent lights in the ceiling of your office. I’m talking about ten to twenty minutes here and there - or even over lunch - to dedicate to answering a few questions about your work honestly and thoughtfully. Even those that can be a grueling prospect (trust me, I’ve put off this reflection practice more times than I care to admit), but once you get started, those minutes won’t seem so long. You might even start doing it regularly, and start growing in ways you didn’t realize you could. (But that part’s up to you.) Here's a nice simple image of how this process works!
Grab a sheet of blank paper and a pen answer these questions below:
- What are some major professional accomplishments you made last year?
Personal example: I helped develop and write content for the Creatis eNewsletter, and sales collateral - two things I’ve never done before! List whatever you can. Big things or small.
- How do you feel about your professional accomplishments? Could you have done more? What, if any, stopped you from doing more?
- What are your professional goals for the upcoming year?
Really dig in to this one. Your answers can be simple like, "getting a promotion at your current company" or relatively complex like, “reaching more consumers with a stronger brand strategy.”
- What skills do you posses now that you didn't before last year? What new skills do you want to learn this upcoming year?
For instance, do you want to master excel or that new Adobe product that just came out? What about other kinds of intangible professional skills like active listening, or expanding your creative practices? Think about how you want to invest in yourself in 2019.
I believe fundamentally that to develop professionally, one must reflect upon their “practice” through this practice. You can make up your own or follow mine. The important thing is writing it down and taking time to visualize what you’ve done and hope to do. These are great propellants toward growth - that’s what this little present is all about. So take a few minutes, reflect, take stock of where you’re at and then get working on where you’re going. Next year is well on its way!