Five Ways to Give It Your Best at Work and at Home

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1 Five Ways to Give It Your Best at Work and at Home Overview Five ways to give it your best at work and at home. Set personal goals that will help you give it your best. Take short breaks throughout your day to renew and recharge. Decide to be engaged and committed to what you are doing. Build your skills so you feel capable and confident. Take care of yourself. Giving it your best has many benefits for you and the people around you - - your family friends, partner, and the people you work with. The Gallup Organization has found that engaged employees are more optimistic about their personal lives and less likely to bring stress home. Many studies show that work takes less out of you if you feel positive about it. In fact, it can energize you. And that positive energy spills over into all areas of your life. So why not get started learning how to give it your best? Following are five action steps you can take to tap into your energy, talents, and enthusiasm for work and life. 1. Set personal goals that will help you give it your best. To give it your best, it s important to have goals and to keep on setting new goals for yourself. If you find it hard to set and achieve your goals, you re not alone. This is true for many people. Here is some advice: Set both easy and hard to reach goals. Experts agree that we need both easy and hard to reach goals to stay motivated. Say, for example, that your goal is to begin an exercise program. An easier goal might be to get outdoors and walk four times a week for ten minutes each time. A harder to reach goal might be to work up to a three-mile walk four times a week by six months into your exercise program. Achieving your easy goal, which you should be able to do fairly easily, will give you a sense of accomplishment as you start out. Your harder to reach goal will give you something exciting to work toward over time. Setting easy and hard to reach goals is helpful in all areas of life, from losing weight to tackling big projects at work to cleaning out your basement. Track your goals and progress. Keeping track of your goals on paper or on a computer helps you stay the course. Let s say you want to adopt a healthier diet. Get out a piece of paper or new document on your computer and draw a vertical line down the middle of the page. On the left side, write down everything you eat and drink every day for two weeks. On the right side, write down one goal, one diet habit you d like to change each day or week and how you re going to do that. Be specific. You might write, Stop drinking soft drinks in the late afternoon at work. Drink water and bring pretzels and a piece of fruit to snack on. If you have goals at work you aren t achieving, ask your manager for help in prioritizing and reviewing your workload with you. Don t take it as a failure if you need to ask

2 2 Five Ways to Give It Your Best at Work and at Home your manager for help. Most managers understand that part of their job is to help employees prioritize their work. Say, I would like to make sure I am giving priority to the critical tasks that need to be accomplished, could we review my workload and priorities together when you have some time? 2. Take short breaks throughout your day to renew and recharge. You can only give it your best at work if you give your body and mind regular breaks. Many of us forget to take breaks throughout the workday. Do you take regular breaks at work no matter how busy you are? Even if your work is very structured, there are ways to take planned breaks. Here are some ideas: Listen to music in the break room. Go to an exercise class or take a walk during your lunch hour. Practice deep breathing in a quiet area. Take a stretch break at your desk. Take a short walk to a bathroom on another floor. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk outdoors to get some fresh air. Take regular breaks every day so they become an automatic part of your routine. 3. Decide to be engaged and committed to what you are doing. You can t give it your best unless you commit yourself to doing that. This is true whether you are starting an exercise program, taking a class, maintaining a friendship, or handling a project at work. Most people want to be fully committed to what they are doing. Here are some suggestions: Make the choice to be engaged. The advantages are clear if you make the choice: better results, more energy, and more satisfaction. Once you decide to do something, own it. Give the task your best effort and complete it on time. You may find it helpful to really focus on each work situation or personal situation, one at a time, without checking your or smart phone messages or thinking about what else you need to be doing. Try to avoid making commitments you won t be able to meet. Look at what s preventing you from giving it your best and try to fix it. Many things can get in the way, from overload to personal issues to a bad boss. How is your relationship with your manager? How is your self-confidence? How are your time management skills? If you know that something is preventing you from giving it your best, work on it. For example, if you know that your organizational skills aren t strong, develop an action plan to work on ways to improve them.

3 3 Five Ways to Give It Your Best at Work and at Home Have a positive attitude. Focus on what you like about people rather than on what you don t like. Focus on what you can do at home and at work to make things run more smoothly. Even on bad days, try to find something that went well. Think of President Teddy Roosevelt s advice when you feel stretched, He suggested Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. This is still good advice today. Find role models you admire. People who excel at what they do often have good role models. The ideal role models are those who give it their best -- people you can respect and admire, people you d want to be like. Avoid blaming others for mistakes, misunderstandings, and what went wrong. Negative feelings like aggravation and blame keep you from giving it your best. (You re too busy thinking about what s wrong instead of about how to fix things.) Are you still holding a grudge against your brother for something that happened a year ago or blaming a co-worker for a problem on a job? People who give it their best are able to forgive and move on. Instead of blaming others, they take action to improve matters going forward. 4. Build your skills so you feel capable and confident. The people who give it their best are constantly learning. They re positioned to move forward in the organization, in their jobs, in life, because they re continually expanding their talents, knowledge, and skills. Learn about yourself, about what you are good at, and build on your strengths. The best way to succeed -- to give it your best -- is to do what you are good at. Are you a creative problem-solver? A great collaborator? Highly analytical? Understand your strengths, build on them, and make every effort to use your strengths at work. Talk with your manager about ways to do this. Don t wait for learning opportunities to come to you -- make them happen. Take responsibility for updating and expanding your skills. If you haven t been offered the opportunity to learn a new skill at work, identify one you d like to learn and discuss this with your manager. Attend classes, workshops, or online seminars. Read books and articles, and see if your library has videos, CDs, or DVDs about a skill you want to acquire. Take training classes offered in your organization or online. Volunteer for new projects or cross-functional teams, as some of the best learning experiences occur on the job. Let your manager know if you d like more coaching or support. Keep up to date with technology, advances in your field, and new and improved ways of getting the work done. Learn outside of work, too. Learning new things helps keep your mind sharp. Research has shown that people who stay mentally active -- by reading, taking courses, or by learning a new skill -- have better memories into old age. Commit

4 4 Five Ways to Give It Your Best at Work and at Home to learning something you think would be fun that is new to you either this month or year. You ll feel more energetic. Find a mentor inside or outside your department. Find someone accomplished and knowledgeable in a field or subject you want to excel in and who can help you reach your goals. Your mentor might be a neighbor, a friend, or a more experienced co-worker. You might have many mentors, each of whom serves a different purpose in your life. Take advantage of the ways that social networks, such as Facebook ( and LinkedIn ( can help you find mentors. Join professional online groups such as the groups available on LinkedIn and start contributing to the discussions. Social networks can also help you reconnect coaches, teachers, managers, and others who have inspired you in the past and might be able to do so again. Online networks also make it easier for you to talk about your goals with friends who could help you find potential mentors. 5. Take care of yourself. You can t give it your best if you don t have energy and don t take care of yourself. Here are some reminders: Get in shape. Improving your energy level and make you feel better about yourself. It s also good for your health. Being out of shape raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, back or joint pain, stroke, and some forms of cancer. Of course, talk with your doctor if you plan to sharply increase your exercise routine. Get enough sleep. Experts agree that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Developing regular sleep habits is an important part of being able to give it your best. Too little sleep can affect your energy, mood, and productivity. To establish good sleep habits, finish eating two to three hours before your bedtime, avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime, and don t exercise too close to bedtime. Visit the site for the National Sleep Foundation ( for other tips on getting a good night s sleep. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Get regular exercise that makes you breathe harder on most or all days of the week. Go for brisk walks. Ride your bike. Swim. Rake leaves or do yard work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Remember that daily exercise doesn t need to be done all at once. You might take a 15-minute walk at your lunch hour and another one after work. Consider using a pedometer to count your steps when you walk, with the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day. Eat healthy foods and pay attention to your diet. Avoid junk food and fast food. And avoid overeating. It s bad for your health and leaves you feeling sluggish. Limit how much alcohol you drink. Over time, it depletes your energy. Alcohol is also high in calories due to the carbohydrate or sugar content.

5 5 Five Ways to Give It Your Best at Work and at Home On Sunday night, pack a healthy snack bag to bring to work for the week. Add wholegrain cereals, plain yogurt, and healthy snacks like fresh fruit to your regular shopping list. Some energy bars are actually high in calories but don t live up to the claim of giving you energy, so choose your snacks wisely. Pay special attention to taking care of yourself when you are feeling low-energy. Low energy can be caused by many things, including not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, going too long between meals, lack of exercise, or an underlying health condition. If you have low energy on a regular basis, it s important to talk with your health care provider. Learn productive ways to stop or manage feelings of stress when you feel them coming on. You might take a walk, read a book, practice deep breathing or yoga, or listen to music. Do whatever you can do to feel better and calm down. Get help if you feel overwhelmed or are facing a problem you can t solve on your own. If you could use help with a relationship problem, a personal concern, or a parenting issue, your employee assistance program (EAP) can give you information and resources. Try to incorporate some of these ideas into your everyday routines. Have a plan and work at it. Before long, you ll find you re giving it your best in all areas of your life! Remember, too, that the program that provided this publication has a wealth of other resources on how to achieve your goals at home and at work. Written with the help of Elizabeth Bakken, B.A., M.A. Ms. Bakken has a certificate in organizational development and an extensive background in the fields of human resource development and career coaching. She is an expert in leadership development and executive coaching and has written extensively about human resource issues including a column, CareerWise, on executive career issues for the Rochester Business Journal. 2004, 2010 Ceridian Corporation. All rights reserved

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