The women that I often talk to are taken aback when I tell them that if they want career success, the most powerful thing they can do is to look after No 1 first.
There was a time when I wasn’t looking after No 1 first. A time when I was constantly exhausted, not eating healthily, not exercising, drinking too much and feeling like I had to work harder and harder to prove myself and get career success.
I was always ambitious for success. Even after having children, I didn’t want to give up on my career. I loved my work and love being in the City.
The day that I wanted to self-harm … oh boy. That was a bolt from the blue. I suddenly realised how unhealthy my lifestyle had become. How much damage I was doing. I realised that I was in danger of complete burnout. I started to see that I needed to make changes.
I took up cycling. I paid more attention to what I was eating. I went outside at lunchtime to get away from the desk. Once I started to look after No 1 first and pay attention to my wellness, both physical and mental, my career success hit the fast-track.
How does looking after No 1 first help?
My career accelerated when I started to look after myself properly because I had more energy, more clarity, more focus, more purpose, and more creativity. I was able to think more strategically and my decision-making was more effective. I had better results.
Of you want to make a bigger impact at work and get the recognition that you deserve, whether it’s getting that promotion, being given more responsibility or being assigned to the projects you can really get your teeth into, it’s essential that you look after yourself first.
What does looking after No 1 first mean?
First let’s discuss the obvious: wellness. One of the five key elements in my confidence philosophy. Most of us know what we need to do in terms of wellness. We know how important it is to eat healthily, be active on a daily basis, get good quality sleep, spend time relaxing and taking ‘me’ time.
What we’re not good at is actually doing it!
Looking after yourself, your own self-care, is the EASIEST thing to drop yet it’s the most important thing you can do.
I’m reminded of the time I was talking to a woman who had made a New Year’s Resolution to take a daily walk at lunchtime to clear her head and get fresh air. Ten weeks later and she had not managed it once. Not once. She said to me “Things keep cropping up and I haven’t been able to get out”.
Would that happen if it was her boss or a new client who wanted to talk to her for 15 minutes every day to review progress? She wasn’t valuing her wellness, her self-care.
Look at it this way. If you don’t look after your physical and mental health, there is no you. At least, not a healthy one.
It’s hard enough to come back to work after a baby, but coming back after burnout, breakdown or even an accident is even tougher. It is essential that you take care of your wellness.
The other aspect of looking after No 1 first is taking responsibility for your impact and presence.
It’s about being fully aware of your skills, talents and strengths so that you can be the very best version of you. Knowing what you uniquely contribute to the world. With this knowledge and awareness, you are empowered to say no to projects that don’t play to your strengths. To not sell yourself short.
Be strategic about your career and your career goals. You might not know the exact path for your career however you do need clarity on which direction you are going in. Who do you need to influence? Who do you need to connect with?
Make sure that the right people know you and what you have achieved. Be aware of the language you use. Women tend to be more indirect and often men perceive this as a lack of confidence. We tend to be better at collaboration and often talk about successes as “we achieved this” or “we did a great job” instead of “I achieved this” or “I did a great job“. Unknowingly, we are undermining others’ perceptions of our achievements.
People will form an impression of you based on how you dress, how you enter a room, how you speak (whether you speak) and the results that you achieve. You can take steps to better manage their perception of you.
For example, don’t push away praise and compliments. Be aware if you are always responding “it was a team effort”. It may have been a team effort but every team has a leader, and if you are the leader, YOU made that team effort happen.
Express your skills and ambitions. Don’t expect people to know what you want. Be the first to volunteer when you hear about a new project, new client or a new office opening. Senior management doesn’t always have time to go looking for the best person for this project if three enthusiastic co-workers already showed up in their office saying “me, me, me“.
Looking after No 1 first
This article explores just three ways (wellness, impact and perception) that you can look after No 1 first so that you get the career success and recognition that you deserve.
I’m curious and invite you to leave a comment. Which of these ideas resonates for you?
p.s. If you want more career success …
If you would like to explore your career success further, let’s talk. Maybe a simple conversation is all you need. Sometimes small steps can make a big difference and the hard part is knowing which small steps to take. If we have a conversation, we’ll start to figure that out so that you too get the career success you deserve