If you’ve ever embarked on the journey toward improving your finances and enjoyed any semblance of success along the way, you can probably attest that the process of facing your situation head-on and creating a plan, is often more difficult than the actual follow through. Personally, I like to think of it as the “Wisdom of Ignorance Syndrome”.
Wisdom of Ignorance Syndrome: The process of recognizing that you don’t know what you don’t know. Oddly enough, this actually puts you in a unique place of power where you can provide an honest assessment of your knowledge and capabilities, as well as your ignorance and limitations.
Unfortunately, as a side-effect of this syndrome, we take care of those easy targets that fuel the momentum to keep us engaged and motivated, but many times; overlook the things that have the potential to propel us farther, faster.
In my case, a few of those easy targets came in the form of lowering our non-essential spending categories and limiting how much we spent on eating out. Sure, they were important items to tackle but by focusing so much on controlling the money coming out of the checking account, I neglected to look for ways to increase the money coming in.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about 28 Ways to Put Money Back in your Pocket. While this was an informative and very enjoyable read (*pats self on back*), I was disappointed to realize that I left out arguably the most important way to put money into your pocket: Getting paid more at your current job.
The idea is simple. But please, PLEASE don’t mistake that for meaning that you should just walk into your bosses’ office and request an increase because you ‘deserve’ it. The truth is, you probably don’t. Yet.
Not to worry, I’ve got you covered with what I feel are the best ways to boost your worth at work, which should translate into also increasing your net worth. (<–See what I did there? You’re welcome.)
Think of yourself like an iPhone and upgrade every year
Even if you’re #TeamAndroid, you are still remotely aware of the way that Apple presents an updated product once a year with enough tweaks and modifications to draw people to their stores in droves. Although most of the changes are aesthetic, you will generally also notice a minimal upgrade like a higher resolution camera or faster processor.
The fascinating thing about the process that Apple takes is in their simplistic effectiveness. What I mean by that is, the changes aren’t groundbreaking; in fact, they’re often not even the first company to introduce the new feature. However, the improvement is just enough to make you appreciate the value that the change brings and question how you managed without it.
Start thinking of your skill set in the same way that Apple views its iPhone and iPad. Take personal inventory of the things that you do well and those that could use some improvement. For example, if your job requires you to give presentations and this is an area that you don’t feel confident in, look to groups like toastmasters or online courses like coursera.org to strengthen your ability. Small, incremental changes like these are sure to pay huge dividends and create lasting value long-term.
Downplay your needs and find ways to add value
As the millennial generation, so often we are labeled as self-absorbed and needy. Like it or not, stereotypes carry some variable of truth – and although you may not personally identify with those qualities, that is the theoretical burden that we all must bear.
More than just a millennial issue, as humans, we have a hard-wired desire to have our needs met before others. If you have children, just think about when they’ve kept you up all night because they’re sick or uncomfortable, do you think they really care that you have an important meeting the next day? Not one bit! They are solely focused on the way they feel.
No matter how ingrained this behavior is in our general makeup, it is to our benefit in the workplace to quiet our personal desires and find ways to add value and meet others’ needs. This can be as simple as thinking about what your bosses job entails and figuring out how to produce quality work that makes them look good.
Take work home
Even if your office hours are 8a – 5p, that doesn’t mean that your learning should stop there. So often people (myself included) make the mistake of completely checking out once we leave at the end of the day and this small action is doing us no favors.
While I’m not saying that you need to become a work-a-holic in order to succeed, there are plenty of ways that you can improve your performance at work by just sacrificing a small amount of your personal time. I’ve actually had to do this exact thing when I started my current job.
Although I thought that I was pretty proficient at using Microsoft Excel and had a decent handle on understanding financial reports, when I started in my current role I felt so overwhelmed with the amount of information that I didn’t know. I began to take reports home to review on a daily basis and eventually the knowledge became second nature and I was able to transition from a trainee into one of the strongest contributors on the team in just a matter of months.
Now of course when I say ‘Be present’, I’m talking about more than just physically being there. That’s the easy part. Have you ever been out with someone who was constantly on their phone to the point that it felt like they weren’t even there? Maybe that person has been you. Whatever the case, you are probably fully aware that it is possible to be present and not present at the same time.
Think about the work ‘you’. Are you just a “cheek in a seat” that’s physically there but not really present? If so, then you need to identify the ‘thing’ that’s distracting you the most and eliminate it. For me, far and away my most distracting object is my cell phone. Maybe you can relate.
In an attempt to eliminate as many distractions as possible, I’ve gone as far as deleting all of the social media apps from my phone while I’m at work and on a few occasions, purposely left my phone in the car for the day. No matter how extreme it may seem, in order to be better at work, you should do whatever is necessary to remove distractions and be engaged.
Exude positivity even when you don’t feel like it
I’m positive that we’ve all encountered those ‘Negative Nancy/Negative Nelson’ co-workers that complain about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! Aren’t they exhausting?! So…yeah, don’t be that person.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it – work is not always the most positive environment but you can (and should) find a way to exude positivity even when you don’t want to. Just think about the way it feels when you run into an exceptionally upbeat cashier while shopping, doesn’t that change your attitude for the better? Think about how far that would go with the people that you see for hours at a time on a daily basis.
Ask a lot of questions
Let’s face it, people like to hear themselves talk. Whether it’s explaining a difficult concept or spouting off about your accomplishments, there’s just something about the sound of your own voice. If you’re looking to grow in your job and add value, look to get people talking by asking a lot of questions.
Doing this will produce a number of benefits. Primarily you will appear engaged and eager to grow. By asking the right questions, you will get a deeper understanding of what is expected of you and the best practices to produce the desired results. Finally, as a fringe benefit, you’ll have a good chance to build rapport with your peers and superiors.
Be careful to avoid asking questions just for the sake of asking them, though – because you run the risk of appearing disingenuous. Take a genuine interest in the people you ask and listen to the answers that they are giving. By actively listening and putting into action what you learn, you give yourself the opportunity to add tremendous value to your employer and become an indispensable member of the team.
I’d like to hear from you! What are some of the things that you’ve done to boost your worth at work? Join the conversation!