10 Ways to Show You're Professional...Even if You Don't Feel Like It

Publisher, CareerTapped.com

There are three truths of life: you’re either in a groove, in a rut, or in the grave.

Of course, it would be lovely to be in a groove all the time, doing what we enjoy most, and just kicking butt. But we know better, and for all the days we’re in a groove, there are many others that feel like we’re in a rut . . . or worse.

When we’re stuck, perhaps even getting in our own way, the energy and vibes we put forth into the world tell that story. Through our verbal and nonverbal communication, people pick up on our less-than-impressive mindset. And that can really backfire if you’re scheduled for a job interview, important project, or networking event. That’s when it’s essential that you drive yourself out of “pity city.”

To help you escape the mundane rut and get into a groove, consider these 10 points. They can have a positive effect on your communication:

  1. Go away. By this I mean take a day (or even a few hours) off and go to a place that’s at least six miles from your home, school, or office. A change of scenery does wonders. It also helps to plan a getaway every few months, especially when you’re stressed.
  2. Keep your promises. The most important promises are the ones we make to ourselves. If you have vowed to take a class, get a certification, or revise your résumé, get going! Feeling stuck is a real drag.
  3. Read often. Learn from the greats like Gandhi, Harry Truman, Rosa Parks, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs. Read their biographies and autobiographies. If you’re pressed for time—and who isn’t? —read magazine articles about successful people you’d like to emulate. Consider these people your mentors.  
  4. Think on your feet. When the power at the 2013 Super Bowl was zapped, the biggest buzz was not about the game and electricity—it was about dunking Oreo cookies in the dark. The company’s marketers immediately jumped onto Twitter with snappy nuggets about dunking Oreo cookies to pass the time. Not only did employees think fast, they took immediate action and created quite a buzz. (On the other hand, Energizer flubbed a huge opportunity this month during a GOP presidential debate when one candidate mentioned the Energizer Bunny. #EpicFail). This leads me to point #5 . . .
  5. Avoid procrastination. When something needs to be done, get right to it. Putting it off will only cause stress and anxiety. Actor Denzel Washington says he and his wife have raised their four children with this rule: “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.”
  6. Be accountable for yourself. Do not blame other people. Take full responsibility for your actions and words.
  7. Always do your best. Every day we are faced with a plethora of choices. But many decisions we make aren’t in our own best interest. “I’ll call my professor tomorrow” or “I’ll just throw together this work project.” The key is that your best will vary. If you have a cold on Tuesday, your best will not be the same on Friday when you’re feeling better. Don’t compare; just do your best in each and every moment.  
  8. Focus on tech. Commit to learning two or three new tech tools each month. Consider what’s hot in your field and what your ideal employers are using or—more importantly—struggling with. You may decide after toying around with a new program or platform that it’s not for you. That’s totally okay, because it still provides an opportunity to grow your skills. Plus, now you can offer feedback or guidance to someone who hasn’t taken the time to learn the product or service. And when you can save people time and aggravation, you’re golden.   
  9. Stop criticizing, judging, and complaining. These three habits destroy people and relationships. They drain our energy and interfere with our potential and achievements. Be aware of how you behave.  
  10. Expect good things to happen. When we anticipate good things, they usually happen. If you expect happiness, love, and success, they will begin showing up in your life. Negativity works the same way, so don’t be a crap magnet. It’s like ordering food in a restaurant: you generally get what you ask for. If you don’t like what you’re getting in life, send it back. Be clear about what you want.

Which of these can you begin right away? Share your successes in the comments or with us on Twitter @CollegeXpress!

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