Every winter, when the New Year rolls around, ambitious people set equally ambitious career resolutions: I’m going to launch my own company. I’m going to have the highest sales number on my team. I’m going to get promoted. Too often (80 percent of the time, to be exact), resolutions like these go unmet — not because they’re impossible, but because they’re unsustainable. To achieve the most ambitious goals, you need to conquer some smaller ones to get there. That’s where Microsteps come in: They’re better than resolutions because they’re attainable and stackable. One by one, your Microsteps will become new habits, which will help you wind up exactly in the position you want to be. So rather than set your sights on resolutions that won’t actually lead to personal improvement at work, try committing to these 5 Microsteps instead.
Take one more lunch break each week
If you normally only pause for lunch one day a week, this year, make it two — or three, and so on. There are more than just nutritional benefits to taking a lunch break during the workday. When we step away from our desks to enjoy a moment of reprieve, we allow ourselves time to gather our thoughts, spark new ideas, release stress, and be fully present. Try blocking off time on your calendar for lunch in the same way you would for a meeting, or inviting a co-worker to sit with you and nosh at a communal table. Sure, there may be days when a desk lunch is better suited for your workflow — but there are still ways to use that time to your advantage. On those days, take a walk outside to pick up your lunch, or to stroll around the block before hunkering down again.
Say hello to your teammates
A recent report found that the simple act of saying “hi” goes a long way in boosting morale and employee well-being in the workplace. Specifically, when a manager engages with others — like saying good night at the end of the workday, or “how was your weekend?” — it helps enable open communication between teammates. Even if you’re not a manager, it’s important to be kind to others at work, and small gestures and simple acknowledgments make a difference in how the people around you feel.
Suggest a 15-minute meeting with a co-worker to get feedback on a project you’re working on
You can schedule this conversation with a peer or with your manager — but if you’re a manager, make sure to ask your direct reports for feedback, too. Being open to feedback is how we course-correct and grow as individuals. Approach these conversations with empathy, compassionate directness, and a desire to grow. Remember: feedback conversations are where many of our best ideas come to light, and can further develop our social intelligence. Be sure to ask for one piece of feedback a day.
Reframe challenges with a positive mantra
Positive thinking is a powerful tool, and just like all muscles, it develops over time and with practice. When harnessed in the workplace, positive thinking can help you reframe roadblocks, and complete tasks with efficiency and less stress. For example, next time you feel stuck and unsure of how to solve a problem, tell yourself, “I am never stuck because I can always generate a lot of ideas.” Repeating mantras like this one can influence your thinking for the better, according to research.
Adopt a wind-down routine that’s free of technology
As the saying goes, a productive day starts the night before. Our sleep is connected to every facet of our well-being (including our success at work), yet one in three adults report not getting enough of it. There are various individual reasons a person may stay up past their optimal bedtime — but the presence of technology is a big one (research shows that 88 percent of Americans stay up too late because they’re binge-watching shows). To quickly improve the quality of your sleep (and your work the following day), adopt a nighttime routine that is free of technology. When we engage in sleep-promoting activities before bed, like reading an actual book or doing some light stretching, we send a signal to our brain that it’s time for rest.
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