How to Stop Feeling Restless at Work

Restless at work

We all know the feeling. You hit the snooze button over and over again; you spend too much time on Facebook at work and are counting the seconds until you can leave the office. You are in a work rut and it happens. The next time you’re feeling like you’ve hit a rut at your job, consider doing the following things instead of just giving up and switching careers:

If you are feeling stuck or bored, ask for more work. This may sound strange, as it seems like what you are doing is something you’ve grown tired of, but it’s just what you need. Instead of starting to look for other jobs immediately, look to advance your skills in your current role. Go to your boss and let her know you are open to more responsibility. Don’t say you are bored with your current role, but rather you are looking to expand your skills and experience.

Get a coffee. When you are early in your career you really don’t have perspective. The good news is you can borrow some. Invite someone that is more senior than you in your field, and that you admire, for coffee. Ask these people to give their advice and keep in mind that you aren’t boring them, but likely flattering them. Professionals with seniority can give you some perspective and inspire you to embrace your job, whatever it may be. Another bonus: having these kinds of personal relationships with other people in your field helps with long-term networking.

Go on vacation. If you’re feeling in a rut at your job, it might be because you aren’t getting enough of a work-life balance. A good reminder is to not completely lose yourself in your job. Don’t let it take over your life. Take adventures outside of work; book a vacation to somewhere exotic or if you are on a budget do something totally different to mix up your routine. Spend time in a new neighborhood for the day or take a dancing class. Doing things that make you feel excited outside of work will help prepare you to focus during the workday.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares that your college roommate founded an inspirational nonprofit to work for right after graduation? Good for her! Each career path is different and getting the job you really wants requires patience. Millennials want instant gratification but we need to stay present and learn along the way. Ride out the rut and embrace the journey to the career you really want—with hard work and patience, you might find it sooner than you think.

The Best Leaders are Mentors

Mentoring

It’s an age-old question: are good leaders born, or created? Are the skills required to become a successful leader developed over time, or are they something so inextricably tied to personality that one born a leader will excel at it, while one who is not cannot hope to succeed? While history has certainly provided us with many examples of leaders who are successful by nature, that is the anomaly and not the commonplace.

Instead, many leaders begin as inexperienced and likely unsure of themselves when they are first tasked with leading others. However, they learn to overcome these issues with the help of dedicated mentors to teach them the ropes and teach them how to become successful leaders. To create a leader, a teacher and mentor is necessary.

Keith Krach, the chairman and CEO of DocuSign, is a real-life testament to the positive impact mentoring can have on one’s career. Krach graduated from Purdue as a General Motors (GM) Scholar. GM paid for his education at Harvard, where he received an MBA. Then Krach returned to GM, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming the youngest VP in company history at the age of 26. However, his tenure at GM was cut short after 10 years when he left to co-found Ariba, a software company, in 1996.

While he did not plan on spending his entire career at GM, he does credit his mentors at GM for providing what he calls “the most important learning experience during his journey to founding Ariba.”

He learned even more from his mentor at Ariba: John Chambers, now the CEO of Cisco Systems. Krach recalled of Chambers, “he said: ‘Keith, you can ask me anything. All I ask is you do this for someone else one day.’”

Krach and Chambers are a good example of the kind of bond that can develop between mentor and student, as well as how mentorship is something that a person carries with them throughout their professional life. Mentoring is a type of professional development that generally involves one-on-one training with a less experienced employee learning from the skills and experiences of a more experience employee. Since these one-on-one interactions and learning experiences are intimate and personal, they also serve to create a strong relationship between the two people involved, which has benefits beyond professional development.

While it is possible to learn the hard skills of any profession by climbing the ladder and accumulating new skills and knowledge, many of the soft skills necessary to become a successful leader are not. These skills include the ability to work with others in a position of authority, to delegate tasks, to make decisions, and to lead and train others.

These soft skills are best learned from someone who knows what to do and is willing to help a new leader learn the ropes, in other words a willing mentor. Mentors are useful for developing professionals because they can provide a new leader with advice during their transition, as well as being someone to bounce ideas off of and confide in during trying times.

It’s important to consider that there are several different types of mentoring as well, including group mentoring (as part of a group instead of strictly one-on-one), peer mentoring (with a peer instead of with a more skilled employee), and flash mentoring, mentoring for short periods of time, generally with many different people in a style reminiscent of speed-dating.

Mentoring is a vital process for sharing and exchanging valuable skills and information from person to person, and even across generations. We can be sure that we will have quality leaders in the future, just so long as they have mentors to guide them.

Google and Uber to Become Ride-sharing Rivals?

It appears that Uber may have some stiff competition in the near future, as word has spread of a competitor app that would use self-driving cars.

You might say that Uber, an app-based transportation network based in San Francisco, has enemies on all sides. Following bad press generated by numerous articles describing shady business tactics and the mistreatment of employees, Uber has begun to face stiff competition—competition which now includes the technology giant Google, whom used to be a faithful investor in Uber.

Apparently, Google is preparing to roll out its own ride-hailing service. Given the money Google has pumped into research and development of their self-driving cars, it is easy to assume that the service offered by the app would be driven (bad pun intended) by self-driving vehicles. All of this comes from an unnamed source, which has allegedly seen screenshots of the app that is said to currently be in use by Google employees.

To make matters worse, if Uber lost Google as a business partner (and investing in competing ride-sharing apps seems to suggest this may happen), then Uber may be left in the dust when it comes to self-driving car technology. Currently, Uber has access to this technology because of their partnership with Google. However, should that tie be severed, then they would have to get their hands on that technology in some other way—likely through a partnership with another company with the same technology, or investing money in research and development to invent the technology themselves.

Regardless, things aren’t looking good for Uber. If Google isn’t the company to overtake Uber, then another company will rise to the challenge.

What do you think of a potential Google app that could offer rides from self-driving cars? Would you use this app if you could?

5 Proven Ways to Reduce Stress

Work Stress

IMG: via Shutterstock

Maybe it’s just the New Year, but man this year is off to a busy start. Whether you are stressed or overworked, it’s miserable when being too busy affects the quality of your relationships and hampers your quality of life. Here are some tips to help reduce or manage stress, regardless of who you are.

Get up earlier than everyone else. Wouldn’t an increase in productivity help your stress level? Well think about how much more you can get done at 5 am when everyone else is still in bed. Try to beat those deadlines and then use your extra evening time to get in a workout or have dinner with a friend. Early birds tend to be more productive people, which leads to professional achievement.

Exercise every day. There are beyond countless health benefits to working out. It helps detoxify your system and reduce stress and inflammation. If you hate working out, why not try to incorporate some physical activity into your day through multitasking. Do wall pushups while you wait for a conference call to start, or park further away and do a lap around your building before going in.

Check your email less. Once you are off work, try only checking your email a few more times before going to bed. Better yet, leave work at work and don’t check your email until the next day when you’re at the office. Of course, this isn’t realistic for all businesspeople, as some need to be connected to clients at all times. However, it will help to make you feel less stressed if you cut back just a bit.

Make new friends. Making new friends helps avoid loneliness and boosts confidence. In the wintertime, many people become hermits and it’s easy to fall into patterns where you aren’t spending much time with friends or loved ones. Don’t let this be the case for you this winter, as meeting new people or fostering relationships with current friends can help relieve your stress.

Get more sleep. Being under stress can often make it harder to get good sleep, but make sure you are getting enough each time. Abstain from alcohol or caffeine when it gets closer to bedtime, and don’t watch TV right before you try to get some shuteye.

How to Deal With Passive Aggression in the Workplace

passive aggression

It’s almost a guarantee that you won’t be in love with everyone you encounter in the workplace. You don’t get to be surrounded exclusively by your best friends, but you do have to figure out how to get along with everyone. Of course, this is often easier said that done as conflicts can arise and people react. Although your passive aggressive behavior may be minimal, it’s important to nip any kind of passive aggression in the bud so you can take a step toward clearer and more positive communications at work.

Perhaps you sometimes feel your demeanor shift when a particular coworker’s name comes up. Maybe you wait longer to reply to their emails or don’t respond at all. It may seem imperceptible, but these small reactions to a coworker’s presence are examples of passive aggression. Once you assess your issue with that person, you can determine whether you can handle it on your own, or address the specific person.

If you don’t make eye contact, or give one-word answers to someone who bothers you at work, that’s also indicative of passive aggressive behavior. Gesturing, like offering a shrug or nod rather than a verbal response, can also create problematic dynamics. If you try to resolve your issue with this person and just can’t, the solution may be transferring departments, teams or even companies. If you are participating in office gossip put a stop to it and change the issue so no one else will continue.

Voicing your opinion at work can sometimes be like walking a tightrope; often, you don’t feel like a team player when you do this. However, speaking up against coworkers who are gossiping will show your boss and others that you could handle being strong and having integrity in subsequent projects. Any kind of gossip—in the office or out—is a subtle form of passive aggression. Discourage this behavior among your coworkers, and don’t allow yourself to gossip. Being direct will only strengthen your work relationships and is far more professional and effective.

Should You Get a New Job in 2015?

New Job

As we begin 2015, you may be reflecting on the past year and wondering if your current job is where you want to be. If you really don’t like where you work or aren’t satisfied, you are not alone. But quitting your job in today’s difficult economy is a scary decision to make. And if you make decent money, finding another job with the same or better pay can be challenging to say the least. If you are considering quitting, though, it’s a good idea to have a long and hard think before you walk away from your current job.

The sad truth is, it can be difficult to tell just how bad—or not bad—your current situation is when you’re all tangled up in it. To help yourself determine if it’s time to leave, ask yourself a few key questions before leaving. How many problem behaviors can you identify? What has the duration of the problems been? What is the intensity of the behavior? Have you tried to fix it, or are there solutions you haven’t yet considered?

Think through tough questions like these and write down the answers. Next, it is time to reflect. Remember, this is your life and if you don’t take responsibility for it, no one will. Choosing to do nothing is as much a choice as choosing to act. If you decide to stay, identify what you need to do to make it better. If you decide you need to leave, make sure you are taking the proper steps to leave on the best terms possible and prepare for a new job. Don’t get yourself into a position of being desperate.

Your career is a pathway over time comprised of individual steps you take. Continue pursuing your goals and going in the right direction—forward. Make adjustments along the way and it will lead you closer to your ultimate goal.

A Guide to Appropriately Socializing with Coworkers

Socializing with coworkers

Not all of us work in a Mad Men environment where drinking at work is no big deal. You know, the kind of work environment where you drink due to celebration, failure, boredom or anything in between. Nowadays, in-office imbibing isn’t completely taboo, but drinking with your coworkers, boss, or direct supervisor is still murky territory. Overall, it seems pretty obvious how to handle this situation – don’t drink too much or embarrass yourself. Still, there is more to mastering the art of after-work cocktails with coworkers.

Encourage yourself to socialize. After a long day at work, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go to a work function and talk to coworkers about more work-related things. However, these events are where real lasting bonds are formed. While you are at home eating takeout and watching reality television, your colleagues will be bonding over beers. Once you pass on several of these outings, you fall way behind in forming personal relationships. So suck it up and go get a drink – even if you aren’t in the mood to go out you’ll feel better knowing you took part in a social gathering with colleagues.

Don’t just order your favorite drink. When you order your go-to spicy margarita, chances are you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll suck it down, which could lead to debaucherous decision making later on. Instead, choose a mixed drink that you aren’t completely in love with so you don’t overindulge, and sip rather than gulp. This way, you’ll be able to pace yourself and avoid risking your pristine reputation by having too much fun while out with coworkers.

Resist the urge to gossip. When you drink together, it can form a false sense of camaraderie. After some social lubrication, you may feel like it’s time to really tell everyone what you think about your boss. Or you may lead into the conversation of how incompetent so-and-so is. At the time, it feels intimate and exciting, but the next morning when everyone knows all your loves and hates, you may regret it.

On Making Career Decisions for Yourself

Career Decisions

The only person who is in charge of your life is you, regardless of what others may say or think. One of the hardest parts about making a career change can be explaining your job status to everyone and having to defend your decisions to those who may consider them “untraditional.” Although the people in your life may be supportive, it can be hard for them to not pass judgment.

Because of societal norms, people get a little uncomfortable if your professional “track” does not consist of graduating college, getting a full-time career and continuing to work this way until you achieve financial success or start a family. Although for many this works, it is not the ideal plan for each person. There are so many careers nowadays that make it so you don’t need to fit into this bubble to be successful. With technology, more and more people are learning and working from home and pursuing less conventional career paths.

However, that same technology which makes this possible also makes it so our private lives are increasingly scrutinized. With social networks booming, people are now accustomed to having detailed information about each other’s lives at their fingertips. Feelings of shame and insecurity are byproducts of being constantly exposed to the updates and accomplishments of our peers and it’s easy to feel inferior about our jobs and lives.

With this culture of comparisons, it’s become harder than ever to leave a job or find a job, and the pressure to land a great gig and prove to others that you are successful. Don’t be discouraged by what your friends, current coworkers, or family members think of your decisions. You’re the only person who truly knows which career path is best for you; be confident in your knowledge and skills, and always trust your gut.

Taco Bell Plans to Open Over 1,000 International Locations by 2023

Taco Bell had a humble beginning, starting as one location in LA County in 1962. Since then, Taco Bell has grown to more than 6,000 locations with 95 percent of them in the US. Taco Bell has announced that they want to make “Tex-Mex” or “Mexican-inspired” cuisine a global fast food staple, as they plan to add 1,300 international locations by the end of 2023. To accomplish this, Taco Bell would have to open two to three new franchises outside of the US each day for the next nine years!

They are currently looking to spread to all corners of the world. Among the countries that Taco Bell wishes to expand into are the UK, Korea, Chile, India, Poland, Japan, Thailand, and Peru. Taco Bell currently has franchise locations in the UK, Korea, Chile, and India.

So why are they making such a bold move? One common theory is that Taco Bell is following in McDonald’s footsteps (a wise business decision) and looking to boost their profits by tapping into new foreign markets.

They really do need that boost. Even with the success of Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu, they still appear to have more or less plateaued in the American market. Therefore, a move to fresh international markets might be just what the doctor ordered.

There is a lot that goes into expanding into so many different regions. One special challenge for fast food chains that open franchises in multiple countries is tailoring their menus around the cuisines of those new regions. One adventure into adapting regional tastes into their menu is already at Taco Bell locations in Korea, where they have started serving bulgogi beef tacos and burritos.

We’ll see if the world is ready to eat more Tex-Mex. For now though, the US will continue chowing down tacos and burritos.

How to Leave Work at the Office

Work Stress

Sometimes, it’s hard to leave for the day and head home without a work worry on your mind. We all think about tomorrow’s calendar and all the things we have to do; we check our work email well after the workday is done. It’s not healthy to feel constantly overloaded, which is due in part to always bringing work home with you. We all need a life outside of work. Below are a few ways to overcome the common habit of not being able to leave work at the office.

“Should I have said that?” It’s a question that eats away at many of us. You made it home to your couch but you’re still second-guessing decisions from the day and can’t get your mind off it. Try washing your hands when you walk in the door. It’s a simple but powerful way to achieve a “clean slate,” and it helps us mentally wipe away doubts.

“How will I get it all done??” This kind of panic-inducing anxiety is something we’ve all felt in the middle of the night. You wake up and feel instantly attacked by all the stress from your seemingly endless tasks. Try to focus on your to-do list; analyze what you have to do in relation to how you will actually do those things. At the end of the day, review the list and write down the steps you’ll take to finish everything by the end of the week.

You check your email 24/7 and never allow your mind to rest. Checking your email incessantly puts your heart rate on constant high alert. Try, if you can, to log out of your office email when you leave work. If that seems impossible try to only check it once every hour and don’t make it the first thing you check when you wake up in the morning. Remember, the first step to leaving work at the office is to actually, physically leave it there when possible.

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