The Career Bucket List: Things to Accomplish At Your Job Before You Go

February 15, 2012  |  

By Blair Bedford

A “bucket” list, as many might recall, is a list of accomplishments and encounters to experience before passing away. From skydiving to visiting a new country, bucket lists are complete with goals that round off the complete picture of living life to its fullest.
Create a bucket list for your job to help you reach certain goals, make moves, and make your work more about making it to the top and enjoying your job rather than just about getting paid. You might have a few goals in mind for how you want to conquer your latest career move, but here are a few other professional objectives to include on your bucket list to maximize the experience in your career and your resume at the same time:

Pitch A New Idea To Your Supervisor/Company
For those of us who thrive off of feeling appreciated in the office setting, pitching a new idea or project to our superior should be one of the top three missions to accomplish while at your place of employment. In pitching a new concept to your supervisor, many details must be considered, like whether it will promote the growth of the company, how you would spearhead the project and manage your current workload, etc. Although this might seem time-consuming and risky, the benefits definitely outweigh the work involved. In addition to making your presence known within the company as a beneficial and valuable employee who brings ideas to the table, it establishes that you are willing to tackle new territory that falls in line with the company’s goals and objectives: to grow and to thrive.

How to achieve this:
Make an outline of a new idea or way of doing things that you’ve wanted to see happen at your job; make sure it goes in-line with the company’s overall mission and won’t cost extravagant amounts. Listen in on conference calls and meetings and take notes to figure out where the “holes” are in certain areas or projects. Research your idea thoroughly before you present it to an upper-level manager; it shows your dedication and commitment to making sure that this project is worth the company’s time.

Learn the difference between “fear” and “respect”
There are many lessons to learn while on the job, but one of the most important ones is to learn the difference between fear and respect when it comes to upper-level management. Teach yourself that respect is normal in the workplace, but fear is an abnormal impression to have about your supervisor, employees, or your job in general–and people shouldn’t be trying to instill that in others. Give a voice to your feelings (in an appropriate way) if you are sensing that the job situation makes you feel uncomfortable as to where you are in fear instead of experiencing a mutual respect level for those above you.

How to achieve this:
Evaluate the relationship between you and your co-workers, supervisor, etc. Also, evaluate the company’s culture. Overall, is it an environment that allows you to work to your fullest potential? Do you feel that you “respect” your manager rather than “fear” their authority or wrath? Make sure this is not a personal feeling about your job, but rather a professional opinion about your job that you have. Sometimes it is hard to decipher the difference between the two, especially if you are in a position at a job that is NOT the wind beneath your wings–if you know what I mean.

Maintain your professional networks like friendships
Most of the time, it’s quite difficult to look at co-workers or other professional acquaintances like friends, those you can share personal details about you with, or even be your complete “self” around. Starting to maintain your professional networks like friendships, whether they be online (LinkedIn) or co-workers in person around the office, gives you a better perspective on your current job. When you know who the team is around you in your professional life (outside of the work email), it helps to create an established work relationship. It also helps get projects and other job-related assignments done efficiently without a lot of awkward moments.

How to achieve this:
Gain connections with others past the work email or LinkedIn profile. Establish a rapport with clients, professional contacts, co-workers and upper-level management by making yourself personable. Instead of emailing your co-worker about a project at work, try calling them personally or going to their office to discuss it. It creates a faster turnaround response and gives a voice and face to the email. Also, make small talk while talking business. Instead of getting straight to the point of the conversation, ask them how their day was, was their weekend relaxing, etc. Be cheerful. It keeps the relationship business-minded but personable, and makes the work atmosphere a little less tense. Just don’t get too in their business…

Participate in company activities outside of the office if they are offered, like community service
Work should never be all about the business side of things, but the welfare of its employees, with company activities like community service, holiday parties, etc. If offered, plan to take advantage of a few activities to engage more in your office atmosphere. Just like with networking, participating around the office makes you personable and present within the company. Community service opportunities are one of the best ways to connect with your company outside of the daily grind of work. Join in and become a team leader or even just a participant and help out, showing your company pride in its other programs. If these opportunities are not available, suggest one, like a community service project the whole office can participate in or a holiday lunch that’ll get co-workers together.

Teach yourself to work smarter, not harder
Another very important bucket list item, working smarter at your job could get you where you want to be more efficiently than taking on multiple tasks to prove yourself. Taking your time on each project and task helps you find ways to work better; rushing through each task to prove that you are capable of working under time constraints can also make you seem unorganized and careless when it comes to getting the task done right.

How to achieve this:
Start by nailing your daily tasks until they are completed with ease and are error-free, with little to no supervision. This will establish you as a valuable employee, and gear you up for bigger, more substantial tasks ahead. Do not overestimate the size of the task, but don’t underestimate its importance. Yes, it might seem like a lot of work to complete, but don’t make this your concern. Know that whatever the task is, it has been done before, so it is not impossible. Know when to ask questions if you are unsure and find your own way to complete the task that is thought out with a keen sense of detail. There’s no such thing as a perfect job well done, just one that has been completed with the best effort involved and with time, was done thoroughly.

Make your office or desk a reflection of who you are and where you want to go next in your career
With a traditional office building full of harsh, fluorescent lighting full of cubicles and an office with no friendly feel, it could seem like your creativity and motivation dwindles throughout the day, and it does. Your daily environment makes a huge impact on how you perform in the office. Personalizing your office or desk could make a big difference on your overall outlook on your job surroundings. A friendly, inviting, creative and inspiring atmosphere around you can enhance the way you work and your effort behind it.

How to achieve this:
Personalize your office or desk with inspirational quotes, pictures of family and friends and other important motivators in your life. If you have a love for books, put a few of your favorites on your desk to make the space feel like your own (make sure they are work-environment appropriate—no personal Zane collection!). Also, cultivate your career future with quotes and other inspirational notions to always remind you of where you could or will be after you climb the career ladder of success.

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