Zareen Wajid, Talent Acquisition Specialist
Connect with me via. LinkedIn
Remember those questionable habits you developed when you began your freshman year of college? Ahem, all-nighters, ramen five times a week, and doing laundry in your Halloween costume from last year because that’s the only clean/washed item you own. I understand. You are in the fast-lane as a college student, jumping through the ring of fire with 100 lbs weights and a one wheel motorcycle. Not sure that exists, but I digress. Anyway, you are a senior now, and take it from me, your time has come… time to start “breaking bad” habits.
There is no doubt in my mind that cramming for exams actually paid off or that saving all the dishes until the end of the week was actually time-efficient. The real world, however, doesn’t function that way. The bad habits that made you a successful college student will lead to your demise as a first-class employee. Take that senior year to begin your transition from a student to a professional… be ready to show your boss that “America’s Got Talent”.
Procrastinating. Okay, we all procrastinate. We procrastinate on tasks we don’t enjoy, tasks we aren’t equipped to handle, tasks we can’t prioritize, and even tasks we can’t perfect. Regardless, procrastinating will not help you succeed in the workplace.
Procrastinating not only delays your projects to the point of no return, but it also stresses you out and prevents you from showcasing your talent. You boss wants to see your enthusiasm, passion, and eagerness to learn. He/she wants to see you succeed.
As much as procrastinating until the night before to write your 10-page paper worked out, displaying this type of mismanagement will hinder your career advancement. Simply put, your procrastinating habits are noticed, portraying to your boss that you can’t be trusted, can’t be held responsible, and can’t lead a team project.
Lesson here is to break your bad habit of procrastinating, and accomplish tasks in a timely and orderly manner.
Studying without a Strategy. As a college student, the concept of studying boils down to cramming for exams and rereading notes over and over. In the real world, the concept of studying (yes, it still exists) is more like learning and relearning as ideas evolve. This means that you must break your bad habit of cramming, memorizing, and “studying” to strategizing a focused plan.
Let’s say that your organization is looking to earn a national designation. What should you do? Well, develop a strategy. Figure out the designation’s requirements. Figure out where your organization is in terms of those requirements. Figure out how to meet national standards. Implement. Evaluate. Re-strategize. Don’t forget to persuade stakeholders and clients
That is studying in the real world. Lesson here is to break your bad habit of imna-go-study-bye to here-is-my-action-plan-to-study.
Multi-tasking. Oftentimes, multi-tasking is confused with juggling multiple priorities. As a college student, multi-tasking is typically defined as focusing our minds on accomplishing 2+ things simultaneously. New research has suggested that that’s not possible. Your mind cannot consciously focus on 2+ things simultaneously.
This takes us to the breaking-a-bad-habit part. Don’t try to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously. In the real world, yes, you will have multiple tasks i.e. projects, but focus undivided attention to each project aspect individually to yield productive results. Forego the multi-tasking. Instead, focus attentively to anticipate problems and their solutions, think creatively, and accomplish tasks in a time-efficient manner.
For example, in college, you may have checked Facebook, listened to music, and browsed Reddit while writing a lab report until you actually wrote your lab report, correct? Well, in the real world, you should be dedicating only an hour or two to email, and then focusing the majority of your time on specific projects. Going back and forth from answering emails to project management will more-than-likely lead to an unproductive day.
Lesson here is multi-tasking is an illusion. Break this bad habit, and replace it with focusing on task #1, and then, switching to task #2. Note that background noise is fine if it helps you focus, but if you start to lag in productivity…
Flying under the radar. A typical 200-seat college class scenario depicts a professor asking if anyone cares to guess the answer to his/her question, and in response, each student is thinking.. avoid eye contact. look down. pretend to take notes.
Yeah… that’s not going to fly in the real world. For career success, you must stand out. You must showcase your talents. You should not be afraid of failures. How do you expect to move ahead if no one knows what you are doing and what you are capable of doing? Speak up in meetings- make a contribution, ask a question, point out loop holes, clarify, suggest process improvement techniques, interact with your coworkers and management.. the list goes on.
No, you will not look stupid asking or answering… just be passionate and contribute
To push forward in your career, lesson here is that you must break your bad habit of avoiding attention, and instead, showcase your know-how and talent at your earliest opportunity. Note that more likely than not, these opportunities are few and far in between, so use them wisely.
Misusing the Body, Mind, & Spirit. This one is simple. As a college student, you could survive a day with 3 hours of sleep, four Redbulls a day, and partying Thursday through Saturday. Well, in the real world, you just can’t do all that. You must break your bad habit of misusing your body, mind, and spirit. You must workout, eat, sleep, and repeat.
A career-advancing habit consists of taking care of your body, mind, and spirit. It means eating omega-3 fatty foods, fruits, vegetables, and drinking 8 glasses of water per day. it means working out at least three to four times a week. It means sleeping 7-8 hours every night (including weekends). Why is this important for career success?
College is a phase of life- a 4 or 5 or 6 year education period. A career is a lifelong journey, during which you will settle down, have a family, vacation, retire, and care for others amongst other things. During this lifelong journey, you need to develop healthy habits to take care of yourself so that you may take care of your loved ones, your community, your company, etc. You need to develop a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
Lesson here is to break the bad habit of misusing your mind, body, and spirit, and take care of your well-being so that you can showcase your talents.
Realize that everyone has had these bad habits at least once in their life. Essentially, some of the habits played a critical role in your college success. Interestingly though, these habits are highly detrimental to your workplace performance and career success. It is better that you begin “breaking bad” habits in your first job so that you can form career-worthy habits showcasing that “America’s Got Talent”.