Do you know what your greatest professional resource is? No, it’s not your mentor, network or even the you graduated from.
It’s none other than Y-O-U. Yes, you read that right. If you burn yourself by working long hours and eating a steady diet of takeout, all those other professional resources aren’t worth a thing.
So, let’s start developing that most precious resource of yours.
Develop a Growth Mindset
Each individual has one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. People with fixed mindsets believe that talent is everything – you can only work with what you’ve got and there’s nothing you can do to improve your inherent talent. People with growth mindsets, on the other hand, believe in lifelong learning and development.
Between these types of people, who do you think has more potential to go farther in life? Yep, your guess is as good as ours.
Train Your Brain
To adopt a growth mindset, your brain must be conditioned to pick things up faster than usual. Invest in brain training programs like those from Lumosity, or learn more about how your brain works, and how to make it work for you.
Be More Globally-Aware
Keep up with current events, learn about other cultures, and understand issues from both a local and global perspective. Knowing more about what’s happening halfway around the globe, as well as what’s happening halfway down the street, will help you see things in a new way.
Nurture Your Creative Side
Speaking of seeing things in a new way, that’s basically how creativity works. You don’t have to be the next Van Gogh, Hemingway or even Rowling to be considered a creative. As long as what you’re creating contributes something of value — not necessarily of the monetary kind — to the world, you have a gift worth nurturing. And the only way to nurture that gift is to practice it like there’s no tomorrow.
Read (More) Books
Don’t limit yourself to your favorite kind of book. If you like nonfiction books, try leafing through a novel or two. Likewise, fiction lovers would do well to read biographies, almanacs and other forms of writing. Understand how writers of all genres make meaning and represent life.
In case you don’t have time to read, you can always buy or rent audiobooks instead, and listen to them while you’re doing something else. If you’re like most Americans, you spend over 600 hours in your car each year. That’s about 75 audiobooks you could listen to this year alone.
It’s one thing to read or hear about a foreign land and another to see it for yourself. List down the places you want to visit, narrow them down to the ones you’re most likely to visit, and plan your itinerary from there. Ask your travel-loving friends for tips, or just fly to wherever you want to go and make up your adventure as you go along.
Meet New People
The best way to understand people is to go out and meet them. Even if you’re the shy type, know that forging genuine connections with others is essential to your well-being. Don’t fret if your social circle seems tiny compared to that of more gregarious people; what’s important is that you expand that circle at your own pace, and in your own terms.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Contrary to popular belief, multitasking isn’t always a good idea. It actually hampers your productivity, because you’re unable to give any of your multiple tasks the attention they deserve. It’s better to focus intensely on a single task for 90–120 minutes, and take short breaks in between, than to stretch your willpower — a finite resource — to its limit.
“Unplug” Once in a While
It’s easier to focus on a task if you’re nowhere near Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and other time-sucking sites.
Also, there are other benefits to unplugging from social media. For one thing, you no longer have to fight that pang of jealousy when friends upload pictures of their awesome European vacation. You no longer gnash your teeth in anger when an ex posts a vague — and unflattering — status update that may or may not be about you. Best of all, you no longer have to pretend to be someone you’re not on the Internet — and that’s a liberating feeling.
You don’t need an expensive gym membership for this. Even walking briskly for at least 30 minutes a day already grants you a good number of health benefits. If walking isn’t an option, you can always maximize your office breaks by performing these exercises at your work desk.
One More Tip
You know how Sherlock Holmes spends his free time playing the violin when he’s not being, well, Sherlock Holmes? Sometimes the best way to do things is to do nothing. Relax, empty your mind and feel yourself reinvigorating your greatest professional resource — you — to fight another day.