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How to thrive in the workplace in 2016

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Martha Germann
Martha Germann

by Martha Germann

Now that 2015 is just a year you used to know, what are you hoping for 2016?

When imagining the coming New Year at your job and the work environment, it may seem hard not to be anxious or worried, especially if you listen to the pundits on the news. Or you may be resigned to the fact that 2016 will be pretty close to what 2015 was like.

But with the New Year comes the opportunity to relook at what can be possible and choose to thrive instead of just survive.

Here are five ways that you can begin to thrive at work in 2016.

  1. Create meaningful goals for yourself.

There was a year when the performance goals I was given was a total shift from the enjoyable projects I was working on the year before. In essence, they were not goals that I would have created for myself or was excited about doing and at first glance, my year look filled with drudgery.

Many of you may feel you are in this same spot. But don’t get stuck in that mindset.

We thrive when we feel like we are contributing to something meaningful. When we are doing something that has meaning to us, we are more engaged, creative and productive.

What had me shift my experience from one of surviving to thriving was creating my own personal goal that was meaningful for me that my given performance goals would be a contribution.

One of my personal go-to goals is to make a difference to the people I work with and work for. When I was clear for myself how my performance goals contributed to that difference, I was able to fully opt in and start to enjoy accomplishing the projects because my focus was on the difference I could make.

Create your own meaningful goals around your position at work.

  1. Be clear on your “why” and expand your opportunities

There are times when we believe we know what we want. We know we want a promotion, or a raise, or to be put on a certain project, all nice things to go for. But I am not convinced that many of us really know why we want those things. And when we don’t know exactly why we want what we say we want, we are trapped in only one path to get there and a low probability of getting it. There are limited promotions, raises and openings on projects and if we don’t get it, we feel we have failed. And we start to beat up on ourselves, or blame the ones who make the decisions. This is not thriving.

As an example, some people may say they want a promotion and when you really get to why, their answers are to be seen as successful, or to know that they are valued. So when they don’t get the promotion, they are left feeling like a failure, or not valued and fall into resentment or are left with little confidence. Or if they do get the promotion and they now have to deal with responsibilities that they really don’t want, because it wasn’t about the position but what the position represented to them.

If you know that your why is about feeling valued, you can find many more ways of knowing your value and demonstrating it without having to get a promotion. And if you are not promoted, you won’t have to see it as proof that you are not valued.

But if you find that why you want the promotion is because of how it will let you use your strengths and develop more skills and if you don’t get the position, you may feel disappointment, but it doesn’t decrease how you view yourself.  And if you do get the promotion, you are excited about the new adventure the position brings.

So, ask yourself why you have the goals that you have for yourself and write it down. Than ask why the answer you just wrote down is important and write that down. And then ask why again until you have asked it at least five times. This will help you get at your true why and allow you to see other options and opportunities to get what you really want.

  1. Be mindful of your focus and actions

An advantage of being clear of your goals and knowing why they are important to you is that it gives you a point of focus to evaluate the actions you are taking and the results that you are getting.

The work environment can be a fast paced experience where you have a huge list of things to do. Many of us get so focused on the list and marking things off that we don’t see if what we are doing is moving us any closer to our goal.

Take time to be mindful that the actions you are taking are actions that align with your desired results.

When you really pay attention you may find that you are able to make quick adjustments to stay on track and also minimize time spent proving or justifying why things are not working.

  1. Quit competing so much

We live in a culture that is heavy on the belief that it is all about competition. This mindset has us comparing ourselves to others in a way that diverts our focus from our meaningful goal to a goal of beating another person. With that change in focus, we are put in a state of fear of losing and we are back in survival mode and off track from accomplishing our meaningful goal.

In 2016, take yourself out of competing mode for a while. Instead, when you do a comparison of what others are doing, use it as information that will give you new ideas on approaches you can take or skills that you can learn that will have you be successful in your meaningful goal.

  1. Appreciate more

One of the distinguishing and powerful emotions of thriving is that of appreciation.

Most of us realize that we should be grateful and count our blessings. But just being able to list what we know we appreciate does not have much of an impact on our well-being. It may even make us feel guilty when we are feeling negative emotions when we know we don’t have it as bad as others – once again putting us in survival mode. Cultivating the emotion of appreciation, on the other hand, allows us to see that we ourselves can create the positive emotions that we had been hoping to receive from a person or circumstance.

There are several benefits to cultivating this positive emotion. According to studies done by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, positive emotions fuel psychological resilience, triggers upward spirals towards greater well-being in the future and seeds human flourishing.

How do you practice cultivating appreciation?

  1. First, think about someone, someplace or something that has you feel authentic appreciation.
  2. Be conscious of the emotion itself and how it feels in your body. Are you relaxed? Do you feel it all over or just near your heart? Are you smiling?
  3. Realize that you created that good feeling by what you thought about. See if you can grow and intensify the feeling.
  4. Keep a journal of the things that you appreciated throughout your day. This will have you create a habit of looking for things to appreciate.

2016 may bring you different situations or more of the same, what will have you thrive is how you perceive each situation and where you put your focus.

Focus on thriving.

 

Martha Germann, author of “Thriving beyond Survival: How to Know What You Really Want and Have Fun Getting It,” teaches people the outstanding power of thriving in the workplace, using her own journey in a toxic work setting. Germann, CEO of Mindful Games Institute based in Lewisville empowers readers with a different mindset to discover creative solutions that result in fulfillment and inner peace instead of resorting to drama as the primary go-to coping mechanism.

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