Students go back to school this week which has me thinking about how I used to prepare for the first day of school and all the accompanying jitters. There was always something so magical about the first day of a school year. Anything that happened last year was gone, and your potential was suddenly limitless. Who knows – maybe this was the year you would make the team, get asked to prom, or star in the school play. Perhaps last year’s math class was a disaster, but on this magical day you had a chance to erase your mistakes and come in kicking butt and taking names. Somehow, even though you would be rejoining many of the same classmates, there was still a chance to make a new first impression. A killer outfit, a cool story about your summer, and the unwritten successes of the coming year all combined to create a situation where anything was possible. Wow, I miss that.
I truly think it’s a shame that we professionals don’t get a summer break to restart our year “à la etch-a-sketch”. I propse that we can use this fall season to our advantage though, and that it presents a chance for us to pause and fabricate a little first day of school mojo. So if our “first day of work” is coming up, then we’ve got some strategizing to do!
The Look. I remember agonizing pre-school mall trips with my mom trying to break my bad style tendencies and find the perfect look for the first day of school. Thankfully, I’ve made some improvements since then, and I’m no longer jumping on stupid fads and unflattering fit. On my “first day of work” I’m going to perfect my look. I may hit the Target clearance rack, or I may do some sprucing up on one of my existing looks – but the key here is taking a little extra time and declare my confidence. I suggest laying out your clothes the evening before your designated first day of work – just like you used to do when you were a teen. Grab an accessory you haven’t used in a while or try a new jacket/blouse combo. Watch a youtube video on a cool makeup technique and employ it. Just walk in on that morning like you own the place. Sometimes looking the part is half the battle.
The Relationships. On the first day of school you never knew who you might be sitting next to in History class. The laws of proximity could turn an acquaintance into a bestie in no time flat. You may also have entered your school year determined to make a good impression with the heavyweights of popularity in your school. There’s no reason you can’t do the same at work. Make intentional connections starting this week. There are tons of ways you can achieve this. Seek out an opinion on a project from someone you respect. Eat lunch with coworkers instead of scarfing down food at your desk. Be brave at a business event and spark up a conversation with a big wig. You have been told your whole life that it’s not what you know, but who you know that counts. This “school year” at work communicate with others like you believe that’s true.
The Plan. It may have been different each year, but when you started on your first day of school you probably had a plan of attack. Maybe your plan was to get a 4.0, or maybe you wanted to run for student government. What was great about the first day of school is that you hadn’t yet experienced the failures and disappointments that keep you from dreaming and making big goals. Take some time to write out some measurable and achievable goals that you want to tackle at work. Don’t worry about what happened last month – these are NEW goals. Commit to taking baby steps that will get you to your goal. If you take small, actionable steps you’ll be at your end goal before you know it. A to-do list is a great way to keep track of these action steps. There’s a good online tool/app called Remember The Milk that can help you track this process. There are lots of other online goal setting tools out there as well, and the good news – many of them are free!
So – as you make your commute this week, look at the school busses that have joined you on the road and get inspired. You can make real change for the better this year, and tomorrow is a great day to start.
What are your goals for your “first day of work”?
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