Leadership Update is a free monthly newsletter by David A. Weiman, Psy.D. and www.leadershipfirst.com. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential. Please feel free to forward unedited copies of this newsletter.
- Quotable: They Said It
- Executive Life: 5 Signs It’s Time to Go
- Guest Feature: The Power of Proximal Goals
- New Book: Managing Stress
- Diversity: Management Communication Workshop Combines Psychology and Law
- Readers’ Forum: Your Observations
- Subscription Information
Quotable: They Said It
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
— Nelson Mandela
“For me, the worst part of playing golf, by far, has always been hitting the ball.”
– Dave Barry
EXECUTIVE LIFE: 5 SIGNS IT’S TIME TO GO
In last month’s issue, we talked about the work/life balance and how to make sure that you’re attending to all the roles you have in life … not just the executive or professional role.
As part of that discussion, I talked about lifestyle goals, and how to align your work life with the overall lifestyle that you wish to lead. For example, if it’s important to you as a lifestyle goal to spend time with your children during the weekends, but your job requires you to work many weekends, there’s a conflict between your lifestyle and work goals that needs to be resolved.
So, how do you know if there’s a conflict between your larger lifestyle goals and the requirements of your job? What are the signs that it might be time to leave your job, because it’s not a good fit?
- You don’t seem to be making progress toward long term life goals. For example, your dream is to run your own firm with a few close friends in the same field, but you never seem to get around to planning and making that dream come true. The daily things that you do at work every day are not steps toward achieving that business dream.
- There’s a conflict between your values and the requirements of the job. You value honesty, but your job requires you to be dishonest in order to get contracts, influence colleagues or to tell half-truths in your reports to key stakeholders. When you sense a conflict between your deeply held values and those that drive the company you work for, that’s a sign that a change might be beneficial.
- You’re not using skills you prize. Think about what you’re really passionate about. The things that make you feel most alive, and most like yourself. Is it presenting to groups? Or designing a really novel solution to a problem? If your position no longer demands the things that inspire you to offer your best skills and abilities, and you’ve learned directly or indirectly that the company doesn’t value those things that motivate you the most, it may no longer be a good fit.
- You’re tired and bored! There’s all kinds of reasons for feeling this way … all work and no play … a lack of challenging goals … poor physical fitness. But this may also mean that whatever originally attracted you to the position you’re in now is no longer there. If you’ve looked at the other reasons why you might be feeling this way and you’ve ruled out other sources, it may be that you’ve run out of challenges in your current role.
- Key decisions are being made without you. If you’ve noticed that key decisions that you used be involved in are now taking place without your input, it may be an external sign that your input is not valued as much now as it was before. Although oversights occasionally happen accidentally, if you notice or feel like you’re being left “out of the loop,” it’s a good idea to meet with those involved to find out why. It may be a sign that your contributions aren’t valued as much anymore. If that’s true, you’ll find more fulfillment somewhere else.
If you’re experiencing some of the above and you want to discuss it, you can contact me at 610-642-3040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUEST FEATURE: THE POWER OF PROXIMAL GOALS
By Stephen Kraus, Ph.D.
Everyone knows that deadlines can be very motivating. Among college students, for example, about three-in-four report finishing projects precisely on the day they are due. As the deadline for a particular goal looms, people think more about that goal, and work harder toward achieving that goal. Writers, for example, typically experience a burst of productivity as they approach the completion of a manuscript. Psychologists studying animal behavior have even found that rats work harder as they get closer to their “goals.” So it makes sense that setting deadlines for your goals can help you use this “imminence” effect to your benefit.
Because people work harder as they get closer to their goals, you should set goals with a relatively short time horizon. Think weekly or monthly goals rather than yearly goals. Psychologists call these “proximal” goals, and have documented that they tend to be more motivating that longer-term goals.
A Stanford University study of children doing poorly in math found that those asked to set near-term, proximal goals not only began outperforming those asked to set more distant goals, they also developed a sense of personal control, confidence, determination, and even (gasp!) an interest in math that wasn’t there before. Another Stanford University study of weight loss reached similar conclusions – proximal goals led to more weight loss than distal goals, and those who did lose weight setting distal goals did so only because they “improvised” more proximal goals as well. It is also easier to “measure” your progress toward proximal goals – you’ll quickly be able to assess if you are on track to accomplish your goal, and if not, you’ll quickly be able to devise new strategies for getting there.
Certainly there is some benefit to setting longer-term goals such as yearly ones. They can provide a clear sense of the overall objectives and outcomes that you are working toward. Businesses often emphasize yearly goals and annual sales quotas because they can help in financial planning, estimating how many new people to hire, and so on. But top businesses also set quarterly or even monthly goals because they realize that, for the most part, yearly goals are simply too far in the future to be truly motivating. Annual goals are too abstract. If you set a yearly goal, it is easy to find yourself sitting around for 9 or 10 months doing little about your goal, feeling uneasy and overwhelmed about such an ambitious goal, and then freaking out as the end of the year approaches.
There’s certainly value in having a long-term vision of what you want to accomplish in the coming year, but you’ll accomplish more by also setting progressively more challenging shorter-term goals and building on your success.
Dr. Stephen Kraus is one of the world’s foremost success scientists. Author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil, Steve has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University. Steve can be reached at his web site: www.RealScienceOfSuccess.com.
ABOUT DR. WEIMAN
David A. Weiman, Psy.D. is a psychologist who specializes in executive assessment, development and consultation. For information or a confidential consultation, please call 610/642-3040.
333 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 202
Wynnewood, PA 19096-1929
(610) 642-3040; Fax (610) 642-3041
NEW BOOK: Managing Stress
Do any of these things happen to you:
- You spend more than half of the day worrying about work?
- You can’t remember the last time that you took a vacation?
- It seems like everyone around you is trying to tell you that you’re overstressed?
- You try to work more hours to get ahead, but it doesn’t seem to help?
- You have regular difficulty falling asleep at night because you’re worried about the day you just had, or the one that’s coming up?
Almost every executive experiences these kinds of problems at one time or another, but if you experience them regularly, chances are that you’re overstressed. My new guide for executives, Managing Stress, covers what it is, how to recognize it, and how to manage it effectively. It’s a thorough, concise and practical guide based on my experience as an executive and as a psychologist. For more information or to order your copy, please visit http://www.davidweiman.com/managingstress.htm.
DIVERSITY: MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION WORKSHOP COMBINES PSYCHOLOGY & LAW
Diversity workshops usually focus just on the federal laws that protect certain groups and how to avoid being sued for violating those laws. But they haven’t addressed the subtle psychological factors that impact how supervisors communicate with their staffs. Until now.
When your managers are aware of the correct way to instruct, motivate and manage their staffs, your entire organization is strengthened. Dr. Weiman and labor attorney Mignon Groch recently introduced their new workshop, Management Communication in a Diverse Environment, and it’s available to your company. For a PDF file that shows the benefits to your staff of this outstanding presentation, download it here, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Reader’s Forum: Your Observations
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