A Millennial's Guide to Career Clean-Up for 2014

Dueces: A Millennial’s Guide to Career Clean-Up for 2014

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(Image: Thinkstock)

I love a good purge —(Pause. Not going there.)—from getting rid of clothes and shoes I no longer have a taste for (nor can fit) to fasting from distractions of which I’m overly consumed (ie. reality TV or fast food).

I grew up in a household where getting rid of unwanted things and making room for the new and fresh were common. My mom just wasn’t a fan of keeping anything she knew she could replace with something better or that no longer held dynamic credence, and she loved either replenishing or remixing elements of our lives, whether it was home decor, music, family routines or diet.

Her whole practice of renewal I’ve applied to my life as well, and every season I like to evaluate what’s working in my life, both personal and professional, and put those things or people in the “Keep,” “Reroute,” or “Deuces” categories.

(Gosh, that sounds harsh as I read it aloud but hey, just keeping it real.)

Some realizations have led to small changes while others have led to radical, life-changing moves that the average person might raise an eyebrow about or not even take the leap to do. (The great perk about growing up with a mom like mine is that I could literally tell her, “Mom, I really don’t want to live here. I’m moving tomorrow,” and she’d reply, “Go for it. If it’s what you’re led to do, don’t even hesitate. You need help packing?”)

For all my fellow young professionals who constantly seek progression, renewal and purpose-driven change—whether it’s as subtle as a haircut or as groundbreaking as becoming an entrepreneur—here’s a bit of inspiration for 2014: a checklist of ideas, habits and people I won’t be taking along with me on my professional journey into the new year:

1. The 9-to-5 time-management strategy: I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a night owl who does her best work into the wee hours of the morning. I’ve fought this notion, unsuccessfully trying to force myself into a early evening sleep routine, only to remain awake fiddling around with new projects or in bed researching on my laptop. Now that I’ve come to terms with embracing the vamp hour preference, it’s time for some rethinking of traditional time management. This starts with reevaluating how I spend my after-work hours, how to approach my sleep routine, and what endeavors I will either cut altogether to free up in my routine to accommodate naps and super after-work productivity.

2. The friend/boo/ex/family member who just can’t seem to get right: I will always love family and others close to my heart. It’s true: You should be helpful or supportive of those you love. But to be honest, if their movements aren’t aligned with the ideals and agendas of mine in terms of advancement—or worse, they’re hindering the boss moves I want to make in any way—I will slowly but surely be loving from afar. I don’t really have much time to waste, and some people are more of a burden and distraction than a motivation or inspiration.

3. The too-tired-to-work-out-and-eat-healthy excuse: I saw a picture of myself from earlier this year and thought, ‘Janell, you know you were snatched. What were you doing then that you aren’t doing now?’ Exercising and eating healthy. This is something that we all must make a priority in our lives, no matter how busy we get. The best of the best CEOs and bosses take care of their bodies and make working out just as much of a top priority as that meeting with a prospective new money maker.

4. Non-essential leisure activities: I love a good happy hour, but next year, if it can’t include some sort of boss moves, quality networking or business deals, I won’t be partaking. There will be plenty time for happy hours and celebrations once I reach my goals.

5. Guilt of saying no: I’m terrible at this. I really don’t even like hearing the word ‘no’ in response to my own requests, so imagine having to tell someone you can’t or won’t be able to do something. No more guilt. If I can’t, I can’t. And if I don’t want to, I won’t.

6. Fear of not knowing, and hesitating to leap: The Capricorn in me is always planning, (even if it’s a spur-of-the-moment “plan.”) It could be the smallest thing like meeting someone for coffee, and I’d research the most convenient route, the seating, the food, the plan B for if the restaurant is full or closed (and, if I can find it, the chef, type of crowd and drink menu). All this is before even setting out for the casual get-together. I’m not a big fan of failure or setbacks—thus, all the planning— but we all know failure is a huge, unavoidable part of achieving success. Sometimes, even with all the due diligence and strategizing in the world, the flop happens. It’s OK to take one step not even knowing where the next step may lead—if indeed you are strongly led to do that.

7. Worry about or responding to things that aren’t really that serious in the grand scheme of things … at least not right now: If an email/text/social media update pops in as I type, I will, almost instinctively, check it. I’ll totally lose my train of thought, and eventually that one gesture will lead to the reading and responding to another… and another… and another. It takes quite a bit of discipline to build a practice of discernment when it comes to prioritizing and categorizing things in our minds.

Is it really that serious? Can this wait? Is it really something to attach myself to/volunteer for/take on at this time? We can’t do it all, and if we really sat down and evaluated, some of the things we prioritize or take on can keep us off-track and off-focus.

8. The O-D follow up: We can all sometimes want something so bad that we’re willing to push things to the limit to get them. Well, some things aren’t really worth the trouble. In networking, forging relationships or closing deals, sometimes one has to come to terms with the fact that not everything is meant for you or is in the right timing. You may want that meeting with your favorite industry leader or that interview for that dream job, and it just may not happen. It’s best to give it a reasonable try, take a deep breath, follow up within a reasonable amount of time (with limit to maybe two inquiries) and fall back. I’ve found that sometimes, when I back up off the thirst for a minute, a new pool to drink from comes to me. Some successes simply can’t be forced or controlled.

9. Technology overload: I grew up in— and sometimes direly miss— a time when, if you weren’t home, no one could reach you, and not everyone knew (or thought they knew) your every move simply because they follow your social media updates. Unplugging from time to time will be a larger part of my time-management and stress-relief routines and hold a much more dominant ranking in priorities.

I know, I know. Bosses are always ready and on. Hey, what if that million-dollar opportunity calls? Well, I think my peace of mind and mental and spiritual health are more important than closing a deal during dinner with friends or vacation with the beau. Sorry. Not sorry. There are entrepreneurs and professionals who will text and email during what I deem to be off-hours, and I will kindly ignore until the on-hours of which I’ve set for myself. Again, no guilt, at all.

What are you getting rid of, re-evaluating or replenishing in 2014 that will help take your career to the next level? #Soundoff and follow me on Twitter @JPHazelwood.