Do you understand the connection between what you think and the success you experience, or do not experience, in your job or career? If you could learn to discipline your thoughts towards an attitude of success, do you believe it is possible you could in turn become successful?
There is a well-known phrase that talks about the importance of working smarter and while there are many interpretations of what it can mean, overall it is meant to emphasize the benefits of being focused, disciplined, and working hard. Hard work is the backbone of any career but over time, and when routine work habits are established and set in, the effort that a person exerts may become conditionally based. It could be due to a person's perception of a "bad" boss, poor working conditions, not receiving a pay increase or recognition for their effort, and the list continues. While there may certainly be merit to these feelings, it serves no real purpose to make working hard a conditional characteristic of your job performance.
If you care about your career development then working hard needs to be a top priority every day. However, hard work may seem unjustified if a person's expectations are not being met and that is where self-discipline comes into play. It is a matter of always being in control of your performance and responsible for the quality of your work. It also involves making a commitment to yourself and your career, one that is not dependent upon circumstances or influenced by circumstance no matter how challenging it may seem at the time. This will allow you to become disciplined and know that your best performance depends upon consistent effort, which establishes a mindset of career success.
Why Self-Discipline Matters
The development of a disciplined mindset allows you and your job performance to shine; whereas, the lack of intentional discipline sets you up for failure. Self-discipline is based upon a logical and rational perspective, is focused on being in control, and prompts the use of productive work habits. It is proactive with regards to job duties and career development, and it requires concentrated effort rather than striving to achieve absolute perfection.
Without self-discipline a person is more likely to be impulsive and unfocused, act based upon emotional responses, and be reactive to circumstances. It is easy to begin to work on becoming self-disciplined, whether or not it is a habit now, if you start by establishing an intention and make it a goal to perform your best at all times. It does not require prolonged struggle, only career goals. You can make choices based upon what is best for your job and/or career. Self-discipline involves maintaining control over your attitude, mindset, emotions, and thoughts at all times.
Discipline and Doing Your Best
Your job has a specific description, or at least an expectation of what it is you are supposed to accomplish. Over time, and as you become familiar with the daily tasks, you can determine what the minimum amount of effort is needed to complete the required duties and that may be enough for you to feel good when the workday ends. Then there are circumstances that influence the amount of effort you put in. There may be too much work, an upcoming deadline, or person in authority who is pressuring you to take on more work. You may willingly or grudgingly do more as requested; however, when you stop to consider this job do you realize it is your career at stake?
The attitude you develop about your job will also influence the attitude you have about your career development and progress. If your job performance involves putting in the minimal effort it is usually accompanied by feelings of job dissatisfaction and that may create a negative mindset about your career. It means you view your effort from the perspective of what you get from the job rather than what you can gain from it in the long term. When you are disciplined you maintain behaviors and an attitude that bolsters your daily productivity, which also provides you with the confidence needed to excel even when circumstances are less than perfect.
Learn to Develop Purposeful Intent
How do you feel good about a job and maintain that attitude, even when circumstances cause you to dislike it? You cannot force yourself to feel positive emotions when there are events or people who prompt negativity or feelings of frustration. What you can do is to change your perspective and that is where self-discipline matters. You can decide that you are going to feel good about yourself as a professional or as an employee despite the current conditions and anchor it to a position statement that is focused on your career goals. This allows you to create a disciplined mindset with purposeful intent and focus.
Your career is a series of steps and progress will occur over time and for some it will be accomplished through more than one position or job. At the heart of this is you as a person, and it is you who has an ability to learn and grow. With purposeful intent you can view each job as a stepping stone, which provides skills, knowledge, and direction. If one job does not meet your expectations or provides difficult conditions to work in, itemize what you have gained from it, list this information on your resume, and decide upon your next step. But no matter what, always make certain you have a disciplined focus or you will venture off course in your job and career plans.
Consider How an Employer Views Your Disposition
Consider for a moment that you are a hiring manager. What is the type of candidate you would consider hiring, if you were looking at more than the job description? Is it someone whose tone displays obvious frustration and does not seem to have much to say that is positive about their current employer or existing job? That is not a likely candidate for an employer based upon their attitude alone.
Now consider a candidate who comes along and has a professional presence, demonstrates a clear understanding of their career path or goals, and can articulate what they have gained from each of the jobs they've held throughout their career. That is a candidate who will likely gain your interest, even if they are not considered for the position, because they have demonstrated a disciplined mindset.
The point of reviewing these scenarios is to show the contrast between someone who possesses an underlying feeling of career helplessness or career control, which also demonstrates the difference between a disciplined and undisciplined mindset. If would like to be the candidate who is likely to get hired, establish a goal to be highly disciplined and productive.
Your disposition will carry over into the tone you convey when you speak with potential employers, along with your overall attitude about career development. As a professional resume writer I can spot a person's disposition through their choice of words and how they describe their jobs when I talk to them. Someone who is disciplined and views all jobs as a learning experience has self-confidence about who they are and the talents they possess, regardless of job conditions or circumstances.
How to Develop Self-Discipline and Focus
Career Planning: You can begin to develop a hard-working, self-disciplined mindset right now by first examining your career plans. If you cannot articulate the specifics of your career, now is the time to get started. At the very least, decide upon a short-term and a long-term career goal. This will give you a sense of direction, one that can help you find what can be learned instead of focusing on existing working conditions.
The purpose of developing a career plan is to provide you with an ability to create purposeful intent. When you walk into the workplace each day you can remind yourself you are able to learn from any situation, even if what you learn is that you are no longer growing or moving forward in your career.
Learning and Growth: An important component of a disciplined mindset is maximizing your learning and growth potential. If you have developed a productive working relationship with your supervisor or manager, ask them if there is more that you can do. For example, perhaps you can take on an extra project that is based upon a departmental or business need. To some people this may seem to be counter-intuitive and an attempt to become the "teacher's pet" – or some other type of negative phrasing.
If you are asking from a perspective of having a genuine interest and seeking professional development, and the need is recognized, this will create a feeling of accomplishment within you. As you continue to work hard you may even extend the timeline that you work for this particular employer. You will also likely be viewed as valuable employee, although the ability to remain disciplined will matter most in the long term for your career.
Self-Discipline as a Success Mindset
Becoming disciplined can have a variety of descriptions, including working hard, attaining maximum productivity, or maintaining a focus on what must be accomplished every day. The most meaningful correlation between a focused mindset and effort is the development of peak performance. This working definition speaks to the heart of what working to the very best of your abilities should mean. It is striving to maximize your performance with your current skills and abilities while being open to learning and development, and putting in more than the minimum effort required.
There are going to be times when you aren't at the top of your game and that is certainly understandable. There will be some days that you find yourself working to the very best of your abilities and other days that find you putting in the best effort possible. The importance of being disciplined means that you do not allow job conditions be the reason why you are not functioning at peak productivity; whether there are new policies to adapt to, additional demands made of your job, or other circumstances.
You can always be in control of your actions and strive for peak performance as a matter of your career development. Learn to develop self-discipline as a mindset and attitude about how you work every day and watch your career continue to evolve as this sense of self is reflected in the outcomes you experience, both personally and professionally. The most effective way to be in control of your career and establish a pattern of success is to control how you think and how you work. Self-discipline is a productive state of mind and focused attitude that you can implement starting now. When your attitude is honed on performing your best, you will find yourself mentally resistant to adverse conditions and ready for new career opportunities. You are mentally disciplined and both you and your career are transformed.
About Dr. Johnson
Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. Presently Dr. J is a Core Faculty member for one of the premiere online universities, fulfilling his life's mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others.
As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.
Dr. J offers the following transformative resources:
• Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs
• Appreciative Andragogy: Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning
• Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business
• Brand New: Mindset Tune-Up Inspirational Card Deck (The very best of Dr. J's Inspirational Quotes.)
• Brand New: Dr. J's First-Class Coffee Mug (What a way to start your day!!)
To learn more about these transformative professional development resources, please visit: http://www.drbruceajohnson.com/resources-and-store
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