Every day, I go into work, do the tasks assigned to me and, I like to think, I do them well (I’m sure some would disagree). The problem is I’m really really hungry. Not for food, I just ate lunch (delicious turkey sandwich with avocado). I’m starving professionally. Unfortunately, I’m not one to patiently sit at my desk working and improving “on schedule.” Quickly a concept hit me when I first started. If I want to accomplish my goals, I need to add other activities to my schedule to help expedite my growth and be better… every single day. Here are my three tips for doing so:
Tip #1: Read – I know, tough sell, but bear with me
Everyone has ambitions they’re working towards accomplishing. Remember, there are 7 billion (last I heard) people in this world so someone has accomplished that feat before you. My recommendation is…cheat! Why re-invent the wheel when you can learn successfully from others who have done it before you? Personally, the way I apply this is reading. I downloaded the Kindle, TED, and Audible apps. I read, listen and watch my way to achieving my goals by learning from everyone who came before me. The Kindle app is for when I’m on the metro or watching TV and Audible is for those long car rides through traffic. I also have an email account that I use to subscribe to newsletters for subject matters that interest me, are good for me or preferably both (that way I don’t flood my actual inbox). Be curious about your profession, about you (developing yourself), and about your world.
Tip #2: Find an outlet for creativity
Let’s be honest, your first few years in professional world you will not be doing the most scintillating work. You are going to learn from it, sometimes slowly, so make sure to provide yourself other opportunities to grow personally and professionally. The way I apply this is finding leadership positions inside and outside the firm. Inside, PwC, I started the People Committee to address areas for development in employee retention and satisfaction. Outside PwC, I sit on the Board of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (my high school), Leveling the Playing Field (a local non-profit), and Wise Guy Ventures (a technology start-up). Find something you are passionate about and be really good at it. Make sure it challenges you to perform tasks you would not usually undertake. This outlet could even help you identify your dream job. For me, the various organizations have helped me develop skillsets that I couldn’t work on until later into my career at the firm.
Tip # 3: Meet everybody and be real
How often do you find yourself talking about traffic or the weather? Don’t you think those topics are cop-outs? Who really cares about them anyway? Work to meet new people and develop real relationships. Public accounting can make you feel really busy but if you can’t take a moment to show that you care about others, you need to re-evaluate some things (I know because I have to step back and do so from time to time myself). Ask about people’s goals, family, friends and dreams. Doing so will allow you to learn about others, help you get better at your craft, and develop stronger connections with the people in your life. Having real conversations with people will have an incredible impact on your relationships with your colleagues, friends, and family. Suddenly the conversations you have matter, instead of filling space. Care about the people you interact with on a day to day basis and you’ll be surprised to see the how much more interesting and satisfying your interactions become.