Defining Your Price Tag

Most people have high expectations of their first paycheck.

The promise of getting your first job is like a treasure chest containing wonderful jewels of life — like independence from your family, a ticket into real adulthood, the promise of defining your own life and finding your way in the world.

And depending on the profession you’ve chosen, you will either be satisfied with your first paycheck, or completely disillusioned. I think it’s safe to say that your initial ‘price tag’ — or salary — might not be what you imagined it would be.

I discovered Jim Rohn a few years ago and loved his definition of how we bring value to the marketplace: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” It took me a while to assimilate this but it eventually helped me to get free from connecting my income to my sense of worth.

Your salary is not a determination of your worth. It is a remuneration of your current skills set. Your salary is a cost to your organisation in exchange for the benefit of your service. Earning a salary is a great way to start out your career and gain experience — but in the light of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s short-sighted to make that a long-term plan.

So many university students that I’ve been interacting with are teeming with entrepreneurial ideas. Some already have start-ups on the go as they take on their first job, knowing that they have a side business that can eventually turn into their full time gig.

Increasing your value in the marketplace

 

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Entitlement in the workplace, in any form, is not rewarded.

Never be limited by your salary and don’t let your job title define you. Give your best at work, serve your company and your clients as if you were an owner in that business. What you don’t realise is that your work shapes you.

As you expand your skills set, gain experience and learn how to solve problems, your value to the marketplace grows simultaneously.

One of Rohn’s refrains is also: “If you do more than what you get paid to do, soon you will get paid more for what you do.” Some might scoff at this idea but I’ve found it to be true in my own life. We all you have a choice to make: you can either be limited by your salary or you can be guided by your salary.

The answer is not to focus on getting more — but to better manage what you have right now. If you learn to manage what you have well, then you will soon receive more to manage.

Most people want the increase in salary — but they don’t want the increase in responsibility that comes with the higher pay package.

So if you want to define your price tag, decide to show up for yourself everyday. The best way to future proof yourself in the rapidly advancing world of work is to inculcate an entrepreneurial mind set.

Become someone who takes initiative, who thinks creatively, who is adaptive and flexible. Make the commitment to lifelong learning. Be realistic about what you have to offer. Resolve to know yourself better than others do. Be open to constructive feedback.

Stay humble and keep growing.

Eventually, you will get to determine the price tag on your work — once you’ve proven your value to the market.

Work week reflection question: What is my current value to the market? How can I increase my value to the market in the short to long-term?

Who Are You Working For?

As the champagne bubbles from the New Year celebrations fade into memory, something else is rising on the inside of you as you face the work year ahead.

What is that feeling?

Is it anticipation? Dread? Anxiety? Excitement?

Pay close attention to those feelings as you make your way back to the office. Were you looking forward to the escape and dreading the inevitable return to chaos? Or are you grateful for the break but amped to jump into action and take on new challenges with your team?

The answer to that question provides a clue into the driving force of your work life. You are either working for yourself – where you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how to get there. Or you are working for someone else – doing what your boss wants you to do just to get paid the salary and go home.

One reality has you thriving – the other one has you stuck in survival mode.

It’s not possible to bring your best to work when you’re either not sure what “your best” is, or you haven’t yet found your “passion pocket” – the thing that you love to do and others will gladly pay you to do.

While finding one’s ‘sweet spot’ is a personal journey, your life is entirely in your hands. You don’t have to stay stuck. You have more options that you might imagine.

And if you love what you’re currently doing, challenge yourself to expand the borders of your current experience.

You only get one life.

And you decide who you will work for.

Work week reflection question: Am I working to achieve my potential or just to meet the expectations of others?

umbrellas, one pink

Own Your Uniqueness

You have something unique – and immensely valuable – to bring to your workplace.

Even as a graduate starting out with huge learning ahead of them, the energy and passion that you bring to your team will determine how much your current environment will add to your personal growth. Yes, you spent four (or more) years just grinding those books but the learning isn’t over once you get that precious parchment. Your head full of knowledge on campus will need to be matched with your heart full of passion in the concrete jungle.

EVERY work environment is an opportunity to learn about how the world works, how to work with others and how to apply understanding within a practical context. The biggest tip I can give millennials entering the workplace is to learn how to apply inter-generational communication. The internet abounds with information on how to integrate successfully with diverse teams (here’s an interesting Ted Talk to get you started).

It may feel like you know more than previous generations because you’re more tech-savvy and street smart but there are countless times that I’ve been humbled by insights gained from older colleagues. There are ways to build synergy between the impatient-lets-get-this-done-already individuals and the lets-think-this-through-and-do-this-right people. Yes, it can be infuriating some days (remember that you might be that cause of irritation to your colleagues!)

You go to work to solve problems. So expecting challenges and difficulties helps your brain to deal with the complexities coming at you on a daily basis. You have something to add to your current company. Your ability to see a simple solution to a complex challenge might be just what is needed. Maybe your positive energy and humour boosts team morale more than they might let on.

Yes you’re still a work in progress – but you’re never going to achieve ‘perfection’. Bring all your messy brilliance to your job and the results might surprise you!

Work week reflection question: Are there creative solutions to our current challenges that I can share and build with my team?

Finding The Fun In Your Work

We’re all tempted to press the snooze button one too many times on days we feel like we can’t face the office.

Work is challenging, it can be rewarding – but it’s not going to be something that makes you feel like you’re floating on clouds all day playing the harp. (Unless you’re a harpist – and all the best to you).

I cannot stomach work that is tedious and boring. I’m sure you’re not rearing to go in the morning to face another day of mundane, monotonous, unchallenged tasks. Yes there are people who avoid work like the plague and seem to get a high out of avoiding work like bullets flying at Neo in The Matrix but they’re probably not interested in reading a blog about taking responsbility for feeling engaged in your work space.

As an entrepreneurial thinker, I am always energized by improving processes, finding solutions to serving the client and harnessing stories to capture the impact of partnerships. Millennials, more than other generations, need to have fun in their work environments: https://goo.gl/eZeJhY

While many environments are evolving to embrace the new world of work, most are stuck in traditional patterns that can feel stifling at the best of times. So how does one stay engaged and motivated in environments that can be stogy and overly conservative?

Here are the five fun factors that help me enjoy the work I put my hands to:

1. Bring your own brand of fun: If everything around you is grey and dull, then think about ways that you can add some colour to your environment. Whether it’s playing around with colours and patterns in your work wardrobe or bringing some personal items to place on your desk or in your space that make you smile when you look at it, there is something you can to to bring a bit of your vivaciousness to the work environment. You can brand yourself as a carefree and fun individual without being too risqué.

2. Have lunch with a colleague whose company you enjoy: Some coworkers can be taxing on the mind and when it feels like you’re liable to head into an unhealthy emotional space, arrange a lunch date or coffee with a colleague whose company you actually enjoy. Someone who ‘gets’ you, a kindred spirit who you can laugh with and just be yourself around helps to take some of the pressure off a stressful day.

3. Schedule your week and try and have one thing you’re looking forward to every day: As much as it is up to you, spend some time at the end of each week to plan out what your week ahead will look like. Carefully consider the meetings you think is actually valuable to attend and as far as possible, eliminate time wasters from your schedule. Plan at least one thing that makes you feel a sense of excitement each day: either finishing up an overdue project (I know that doesn’t sound like much fun but you will be surprised at the relief you feel when you hand it in), or talking a walk around the office park that you’ve been wanting to do for a few weeks, or even that coffee with your kindred spirit colleague. Life is too short to hate your work days.

4. Don’t be a poopy head just because there is a ‘culture of stuffiness’: People may be older than you who have been working there for years – but just because there is a culture of conservatism, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to run for the hills. More than likely, your bright and cheerful spirit is just what’s needed to brighten up the place. At one of my former jobs, I was convinced that my manager despised my very existence. She was generally a negative person and would aggressively shrug off any encouragement I tried to lend to the situation. Imagine my surprise when she said: “I will miss your positivity”, when I finally tended my resignation. I wanted to say: “Fancy that – I thought you barely noticed it!” But being a professional I said something positive and encouraging instead.

5. Put forward that idea for a project that gets you excited: While there are some people who take a job with a retirement plan in mind, most employees are more concerned about training opportunities. Don’t let the sands of time pass without having a clear vision of what skills you want to add to your resume when you take on a new job. You’re there to make things better, so don’t wait for permission to present new ideas. Managers (secure managers) love initiators and those who don’t just get the job done but also bring life and energy to the office and take things forward. The proactive, productive employees will be those who learn and grow – and take on new opportunities, while the retirees-in-waiting will keep dodging bullets and wondering how people can actually have fun while at work.

You put a third of your life into work – why not try and find the life in your work?

 

 

 

 

Defeating The Workplace Passive Aggressor

We spend a third of our lives sleeping, a third of our lives working and the last third is left for doing everything else!

This life ratio means that we spend more time with our work colleagues than we do with anyone else in our lives.

If you’ve been dreading the office over the past few weeks (or months), you’re most likely facing a passive aggressive colleague. These “I’m-wearing-a-mask-and-I-bet-you-don’t-see-me” people would never make it into your inner circle of besties. (If only we could unfriend difficult people in real life).

I once had to deal with a colleague who made my daily tasks feel like I was handing on the edge of Mount Everest with my fingertips – and life as I knew it could end at any moment. (Think I’m being too dramatic? You didn’t have to work with her. )

Continue reading

Image of young boy dressed in a suit looking at hot air balloons

My Top 20 Workplace Lessons

People are living longer than ever before. This means that we will be working for longer that we expect to. Current research reveals that the average expected lifespan of the Millennial Generation is 100 – 110 years (http://huff.to/1JkBT6w). That’s a few decades past the current average retirement age of 65. So like it or not, work is going to be a necessary aspect of our lives for longer than we may currently envision.

I started working at the age of 18 with much fear and uncertainty. Now I’m 36 and suddenly it’s my crown work anniversary. Things are a little less cloudy now and I’m facing up to my fears. Here’s a few things I’ve picked up over the past 18 years.

Continue reading

(Image source: goo.gl/slQEJz)

Five Signs You’re An Intrapreneurial Employee

For most of my working life, I could never understand when my colleagues would expect the company (the nebulous spirit we all refer to when we use that term) to make their lives easier or give them meaning and happiness.

It took me a while to discover, after some entrepreneurial training, that what I was experiencing was cognitive dissonance between an employee and an entrepreneurial mindset.

An employee mindset says: “the company should…” An entrepreneur mindset says: “I will…” An employee mindset says: “that’s not my job…” An entrepreneur mindset says: “I haven’t done that before, but I’ll try…”

Continue reading