Work-at-home women are the savviest entrepreneurial people I know — and I’m not just saying that because I've been one. They are people like Lisa Gates, who started SheNegoiates.com to teach women key negotiation skills and Sara Caputo of Radiant Organizing, who helps organizations and people achieve peak productivity. Who doesn’t need more of that, right?
Even me. I have been an author, coach, and consultant, often working from home in between or in conjunction with “regular jobs.”
What I know about all of us is that we always hunger to improve ourselves, seeking to take our skills to the next level. Just reading this post is an example of that — you want to get to the top of your game or keep yourself there.
Here are three practices to help you do just that.
1. Stay Relevant.
There’s no question that technology has changed the marketplace. More and more successful businesses are launched in living rooms, and social media has made it possible for individuals to compete with industry giants.
But the downside is that technology is constantly changing. To be at the top of your game, you need to stay relevant and current, which can be a full-time job in and of itself.
I think most of us rely on some aspect of social media to market our products and services. Blogging, tweeting, pinning and plussing are just a few of the key skills I needed to learn quickly. Luckily, I found Lynda.com, which has great courses broken into short videos I could watch on any device. My monthly membership more than paid for itself as I learned key business skills about marketing, building a blog, and using social media for business.
I saved a lot of money learning how to do some of these key skills myself. And when I did outsource, I could negotiate more effectively because I wasn’t clueless. For staying relevant, I have a few subscriptions that I know I will have for a lifetime like LinkedIn Premium and Lynda.com.
Staying relevant often goes beyond technology. In my work, I need to stay current on the latest research in leadership, neuroscience, consulting and psychology. I have a strategic plan for following journals, organizations and other thought leaders. Needless to say, this can quickly become overwhelming so it was imperative that I create a system for keeping all that amazing content organized. Thank you, Evernote!
What does it mean for you to stay relevant? What are the skills and information you need so you can be at the front edge of your industry? And how can you create a system that works for you? Stay relevant and you can leave your competitors in the dust.
Related Content: Best Work-at-Home Courses to Start Earning Money This Year
2. Reinvent Yourself.
The average American adult has five careers in her lifetime — that’s careers, not jobs. As I hit midlife, I’m on my fourth — I’ve been a graphic designer, university professor, author, and now business coach and consultant. The Millennial generation is on pace to have even more careers given that technology creates never-before-seen careers and the average tenure at a company is now two years.
As you change careers and possibly work for an organization, you’ll need to reinvent yourself. Perhaps you need to brush up on skills that have gotten a little dusty, like managing a team or working with a database.
Or perhaps you want to jump into a hot industry with high paying jobs like web development and computer programming. It used to be that you had to get an academic degree, taking months away from paying gigs and racking up debt to boot. Not anymore. Online education has made reinventing yourself easy and affordable.
My journey has included the Khan Academy, Coursera, iTunes University, and Skillshare. It’s now possible to reinvent yourself in just a matter of weeks, which makes the job market infinitely more accessible than ever before.
I’ve also benefitted from career coaching. A few sessions with a career coach can do wonders for your clarity and also get you ready to compete in today’s job market. If you like books, my favorites are Get Clear on Your Career by Lily Maestas and A Life at Work by Thomas Moore. And you’re already reading one of Forbes top career sites, but you may find the rest of their list helpful too.
Related Content: How to Make a Midlife Career Change to a Work-at-Home Business
3. Rest and Play.
Yes, the third practice is rest. I think we all know this – we have to be rested to be at the top of our game. But it can be the first thing to go when we feel the pressure of staying relevant and reinventing ourselves.
In fact, Arianna Huffington’s recent book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success was written after she literally collapsed in her office from exhaustion. Breaking her cheekbone on her desk was a wake-up call that motivated her to find more balance without sacrificing her success.
She now provides nap rooms to her employees, saying, “I am paying them for their judgment, not their stamina.” Leaders like Arianna are changing what it means for business leaders to engage employees and cultivate their full potential.
Modern science is proving just how important sleep is. Doctors at Harvard Medical School state, “Sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, our ability to focus, and our mental performance.” And consider these amazing things that sleep provides:
- Getting enough sleep reduces your likelihood of illness, stress, traffic accidents and even weight gain.
- During sleep, our brain clears out harmful waste proteins that contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- The last hour of sleep is when learning we did the previous day gets integrated into our memory. When you set an alarm, you lose this precious last hour of sleep.
How much sleep is enough? Researchers say that it’s when you awake naturally, without the need of an alarm. It’s different for each of us, so pay attention to how much sleep you really need and honor that.
While Arianna is the CEO of a major media conglomerate, we are all our own CEO — Chief Energy Officer. You are in charge of how you treat your employees even if you have a payroll of one (you). Being worn down and stressed out is no longer a hallmark of success. Dr. Brené Brown, NY Times bestselling author of The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, recommends that we “let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”
She even encourages us to play more and shares compelling research on how play boosts our creativity and innovation as well as our empathy, relationships, and happiness. Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul states, “The opposite of play is not work—the opposite of play is depression.”
Taking time to play and rest is a challenge for me—and most women I know. We are so busy trying to be good at our work, our relationships, our parenting and even caregiving to our parents. I am often tempted to forego rest or play to get that next item, or ten, checked off my ever pressing to do list.
But if you really want to be at the top of your game, you have to take care of your business’s most important asset, its leader. When you rest and play, you will have new and innovative ideas, you will be calmer and focused, and you will build better rapport with customers and colleagues. It will also make you a better partner, parent, and friend.
Having a Ph.D., I have the title of “Doctor” and I often give this prescription to my coaching clients. “You are hereby ordered to rest, play and invest in your future.” I hope you will follow this doctor’s orders because you have a unique contribution to the make to the world and we need you in good shape to make it.
How do you stay on top of your game? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you! If you enjoyed this post — please share it on your favorite social media site.
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Lynda.com author Dr. Britt Andreatta is a seasoned professional with over 25 years consulting, coaching and teaching. Drawing on her research and experience working with businesses, universities and nonprofit organizations, she creates powerful solutions to today’s most pressing workplace problems. A highly sought-after speaker, Britt is known for engaging audiences with her insightful content and humor, as well as sharing practical tools for transformation. Learn more at www.BrittAndreatta.com.
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