The other day I had a good conversation with a manager about my post Six Positive Professional Development Strategies for the Toxic Workplace. He's dealing with a lot of work drama and interested in how you can address these issues.
One of the things I recommended in that post was to do a daily debrief with yourself to provide a sort of "reality check" on what's happening and to focus on learning.
After doing some additional work with career journaling and reading more about the power of small wins, I think that there's real value in keeping a daily log of progress at work, both for people who are in a toxic workplace and those who want to focus on building their career resilience.
What the research shows is that when you focus on forward progress and what you want MORE of at work (as opposed to all the problems, etc. you may be facing) you are more likely to experience your work in a positive light and you are better able to build on your strengths. Even on the worst work day ever, you can find some small glimmer of hope and progress to focus on.
To help with that daily practice, I created a Small Wins Journal that you can print out and use for yourself. It includes three prompts:
- Today I made progress in . . .
- I can apply what I learned today to. . .
- What worked well today that I can do MORE of tomorrow . . .
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to respond to the prompts. This will help you see where you've made progress (however small) and keep you thinking more about what's working, rather than about what's not working in your career.
I'm finding that over time, as you pay attention to these small wins, you start to build up some valuable momentum and clarity. Your strengths and talents come more clearly into view and you see patterns in how you should approach your work and your environment.
For me, for example, I'm finding that the best days are when I build in some opportunities for interaction with others, something I forget is important when I'm toiling away at my desk. I can also see that I'm chipping away at several projects, even when I worry that I don't have the big chunks of time I think I need to work on them. This keeps me motivated to continue moving them forward.
Feel free to download the Small Wins Journal and use it yourself. Let me know in comments how it's working for you.