While it doesn't top the list of the most prevalent resume buzzwords, "action-oriented" has to be up there. Action-oriented people don't habitually procrastinate, and they do jump on new tasks as they arise. These qualities are, of course, something all employers want their employees to have, and it's something we all want from ourselves. Yet procrastination and inaction are something that many of us struggle with on a daily basis.
Why companies would want action-oriented people at every level within their organizations is obvious. However, it is difficult to prove that you're action-oriented in writing- which is often how we first introduce ourselves to a prospective employer. This creates a problem for both the job seeker and the hiring manager. After landing the job, being an action-oriented employee, teammate, or leader continues to be a highly desirable trait. In short, this is because everyone wants to have someone they can count on to just get stuff done.
Getting stuff done is great for our companies, and it is good for us too. We experience less stress when we have the greatest alignment between who we say were are, who we want to be, and what we actually think about ourselves.
Here are some practical steps to becoming more action-oriented that you can take today:
- Make a list of the next steps. Procrastination happens when we're unclear about the specific step to take next. Fixing procrastination means getting clear about what next step (as small as it might be) is needed to move forward. If you're really at a loss as to what to do next, ask someone.
- Avoid making "research" your next step. Additional fact-finding and analysis can be an endless task that we hide in and is ultimately a way to procrastinate further. Until you get some momentum going, you're going to have to work with the information you have on hand right now. When you hit a road block where more information is needed, you'll know exactly what facts you need to find.
- Get organized. One thing that immediately helps me clear any mental blocks is to clean off my desk. If you accumulate papers over time, stand up while on your next conference call and start recycling everything you can. Be ruthless.
- Kiss your idea of perfection goodbye. Done is better than perfect every single day because making something "perfect" usually means going past your deadline. You can go back and make something more perfect the next time around. For now, just focus on completion.
- Build your confidence. If you're stuck worrying about what other people will think of your work, stop and spend 3 minutes listing all of the bad things that you fear might happen if you move forward. Next, make a quick list of your strengths that you'll be able to bring to any challenge that arises. Tuck these lists away and push forward. Most likely, you'll come back to them later and realize that the problems you worried about never came about and if they did, you were able to mitigate the risk and complete your task anyway. Trust yourself.
- Fuel your passion. If you were once passionate and excited about your job but now feeling burnt-out, take some time to evaluate why and what you can do (a lot more than you think) to regain that spark. When in a rut, it helps to make sure you do a couple of things that you enjoy each day. It also helps to volunteer for a new task or two around the office. Sometimes just changing up your routine helps stoke a broader interest in your work.
- Change your priorities. You likely have 2 or 3 main issues that you're working on continually: your high-priority tasks. Periodically, take some time to reflect on whether or not these are still the right things to prioritize, or if it makes sense to put those tasks on the backburner for a while so you can come back to it with a fresh perspective.
Being action-oriented will help you both in your day-to-day tasks, as well as, make you a more valuable employee. Developing a track record for exceptional productivity and the ability to jump on new tasks as they arise will earn you a positive reputation as a solid performer and help build your self-confidence.