Tag Archives: career women

How to stop comparing yourself to your coworkers and focus on you

“Why are they getting a promotion? I’ve been here longer and no one is giving me a promotion.”

“Why are they getting called into a meeting and I’m not? Are they talking about me?”

“How come they get to leave early? Must be nice!”

During the work day, these are just some of the thoughts that have run through my mind. If these questions have also recently swirled around your brain, instead of getting angry, upset and jealous of the unfair advantages you believe are happening to your coworkers, see this as your wake-up call.

Turn that frustration into focus and take a serious look at your career, your skills and your performance. Don’t waste time thinking about what your colleagues are doing or why they appear to have more opportunities than you. I know it’s hard but concerning yourself with what other people are doing is not going to help you get you the status you are looking for.

Focus on your own paper
You have NO idea what your colleagues are really doing, who they are networking with, or their career goals. It can be so easy to look at someone else and think stellar things just happen to them but realize you are only seeing their highlight reel. You don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. You also have no idea what they might’ve given up or compromised on to get where they are. And furthermore, it’s none of your business. So focus on you!

Take a career inventory
Consider what you have been contributing to the company since you arrived and what you plan to contribute to help the company’s mission move forward. How have you improved since you’ve started? What new projects have you worked on, completed, collaborated or executed to perfection?

Start keeping track of the projects you’ve managed, praise you have gotten, kudos you’ve received, processes you’ve created, etc. so when it’s time to speak to your boss, you are prepared with evidence.

Bottomline: Focusing on your colleagues are doing does nothing to further your career, all it does is make you jealous, resentful and unproductive. There are better uses of your time that can actually help you achieve your career goals.

Your action this week is to start documenting your achievements, whether that’s in a journal, a file on your Google Docs, or cutting out clips or articles that mention you, however collecting praise works in your world. Get to it.


What to do when you have no idea how to get it all done?

Your boss has asked you to take on a new project. You excitedly accept and think this is your chance to shine and show off your skills.

Yet, when you start to dig into this assignment and begin dissecting the pieces of what it takes to get it done, you suddenly realize you are a.) not as excited as you once thought you were or b.) realize this project is going to take a lot more work than you originally planned.

What do you do then?

You continue to work on the project, of course! You stress yourself out to the point of exhaustion and put in late hours, instead of admitting you need help. You don’t want to look incompetent and convince yourself that you alone can get it all done, if you just focus and work harder and longer.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Consider while you are working so hard, you could be damaging your career and reputation producing crappy work, because things are slipping through the cracks that you didn’t anticipate. You’re also going to be in a foul mood, and annoyed at your co-workers because they should know you are struggling and offer to help.

Reset expectations
When I first started out as a proofreader, this used to always happen to me. My bosses would shove jobs in my face, saying it had to be reviewed yesterday. I would dutifully review the job, sometimes while they were standing around me, waiting, and I always missed something.

Finally, I started speaking up and setting the expectations up front. I let them know, their rush was not mine, and no they could not stand around waiting for me to review the job. If they insisted they had to wait, I would take the job and leave the room.

If I didn’t set my boundaries, I would have continued to miss things and wouldn’t have built the reputation I have now for eradicating vexatious errors.

Ask for what you need
When you find yourself with projects that are just too much for you to do alone or you need more time, admit it and speak up! Share with your boss what assistance you need, whether it’s a connection to someone, guidance on how to proceed, more time, more people, more space, more whatever.

You are doing yourself and your career a disservice by trying to figure things out on your own. Your boss and coworkers may be willing to help you, if you tell them how, but first, you have to ask.

What was your dream career growing up?

Standing in the professor’s office, surrounded by dusty books, she looked at me and asked: “What do you want to do after you graduate?”

I matched her gaze and told her I wanted to write short stories for a living.

Without missing a beat she said, “You can’t do that.”

And me, feeling the truth, looked down and whispered, “I know.”

I wanted to be a writer.
In May of 2000, I graduated from The College of New Rochelle with a bachelor of arts degree in Communication Arts. I had absolutely no plan or direction for my life after graduation.

To be honest, I didn’t even try. I didn’t apply for any jobs and I hadn’t put any effort into looking at grad schools. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was to write stories. I’d been doing it since I was twelve but I was convinced, and my professor solidified it for me, I could never make a living creating fictional worlds for others to enjoy.

That was something for someone who was prepared to live in poverty or had a rich spouse to take care of things while they joyfully tapped on a keyboard all day.

At least that is what I believed because when I was growing up–Ha! I never thought I’d use those words–the internet was in its infancy. If you wanted to write stories, you had to submit by mailing them with a self-addressed stamped envelope, and wait until you were ordained worthy by an editor in order to get published anywhere.

Thankfully, in the last few years, all that has dramatically changed. To my utter delight.

Wait! You mean I can make a living as a writer?
Since that day in my professor’s office, I never thought of writing creatively again. Instead I focused on journalism and other non-fiction writing, my dream career of being a short story writer buried and forgotten.

All that changed when I visited JA Konrath’s blog, to see what books he had coming out next, and realized he’s been documenting his journey from traditional to self publishing for over ten years. It’s his full-time career.

He’s actually make a stellar living writing books and short stories. From his website, I learned about other writers doing the same thing.

Stumbling on his digital home and coming to the realization that I actually can achieve my dream career is what catapulted me to return to writing regularly.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Maybe what you have always wanted to be, someone told you that you can’t. And maybe at the time, you really couldn’t see a way. Now that you look back at that idea, can you see, with new technology or your experience, how you can actually do this thing?

If last week, when I asked you what do you want to do when you grow up and you thought back to an idea you had but didn’t actually let it flourish, it might be time to dust that off and take a fresh look at it. Do you still want to do it?