How to Get Started in IT – Make an Immediate Change

 In TCM Post

Nick, what do I do? I don’t know where to start. PLEASE tell me.  What is the secret?

I hear this ALL the time from almost everyone that I mentor or coach. Here’s the secret.

Break the Procrastination
We talked about Doing Something Now. What if you don’t have any ideas? You have a job or other responsibilities that are keeping you from getting to the next level. You may find yourself “stuck” in a career rut or a helpless job situation. You may feel there is “no way out” and can’t imagine how you will overcome your current work or life situation to start, create, or advance your career. The first thing to try is to improve your current position. You ALWAYS have an option. Procrastination is an excuse. I don’t want excuses. Excuses are problems. I want solutions.

I Wanted to Change
At one point in my career, I was by no means stuck in a place I didn’t like. I loved my job, but I wanted a lifestyle change. Instead of cutting the cord on my reliable income, I worked to change my current situation. How did I do this? Well, the first step is to ASK! Speak with your supervisor or their boss. Reach out. Perform. Work harder. Smarter. Be pleasant. Be helpful. Most importantly continue to provide value to your company and its mission, which is precisely what I did. I worked harder and smarter and demonstrated business value to my boss solidifying the position that I NEEDED while I worked on the one I WANTED.

It’s Not Nepotism. It’s You.
You may find it surprising that people that work hard and provide value are the ones that get the perks. Why does that other person in your office always get the special treatment? Let me tell you; it’s because she’s valuable to the company not because people like her. There’s something she’s doing that the company feels they can’t live without so they treat her well. I’ve seen both sides of this many times. People work hard and provide value are rewarded; meanwhile, those that are struggling have a cynical viewpoint of this person. Sure there’s favoritism, nepotism, and bias in the workplace, but the one thing that negates all of that is you providing real value to your employer. Nobody argues with money!

What do I mean by Break the Procrastination?
If you don’t feel like you can quit your job and find another job that may leave you stranded without a job for a couple of weeks, try making a difference at your current position. Contributing unprompted value may lead to promotion as one small step to your end goal. The cliché is: “a means to an end…”

Here’s an example: If you work in retail, every day you see customers and products. You are on the front line. You know the processes. You use the systems. Find an area of the product, method or system that you feel could be improved. Identify it. Analyze it. Plan and design your improvement (with your notebook.) Then take that work and present it to your boss. You may have to go one or two levels above your boss. Not every manager is going to share your enthusiasm; if you get “turned down” do not be discouraged. It’s just a lesson, and we’ll get into that in the next article.

What If
Sometimes though, you do have a lousy boss or unbearable work environment. If you stay positive, work hard and provide real value to your company but it is not recognized the answer is simple: it’s time to move on. You need to pause though; this is an area of brutally honest self-evaluation. If you are true to yourself, to your boss and peers, and you are positive, but everyone around you seems gloomy, then yes, change your environment. Assume that even at your very best brutally honest self, you are still not being 100% fair about your self-evaluation. You will always have a reasonable degree of self-bias. However, don’t get caught being indecisive when your environment is not a good one. Change it.

Start Small
You don’t have to bite off a huge chunk. Your first move is not your career move, make it your happiness move. Even if you have to take a pay cut or adjust your hours it is worth removing the negativity, thus increasing your efficiency. My previous article discussed time and money management. Now that you’ve taken some time to improve those two areas of your life you should feel a little more comfortable about making what seemed like an impossible change. Do it!

What Else Can you Change
I’m repeating myself, and I’m doing it on purpose. I don’t want you to forget earlier lessons. Repetition is key to changing both body and mind. So, find something easy to change. Start with that 30-minute commute on a bus, or car drive home, or weekly allergy shot. Insert some reading, listening or note taking to fill up that time. Make this change now. On your drive home, find some good podcasts. On the bus ride read a book or certification exam prep guide. At the allergist take that 10 minutes in the waiting room to jot down some notes. My doctor has a giant fish tank in their lobby. It’s quite soothing, 10 minutes in there is pretty peaceful. I’ve written notes on my phone in those couple of minutes.

Try New Things
I just got back from my first ever Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. In fact, it’s the first “training” I’ve ever done of any kind besides a school or job-training classroom. My friend had tried to convince me to go for years. I put it off for one reason or another. One of my “fears” was the public gym. All of these other folks that are watching super noob Nick make an idiot of myself. I decided to go, and the best way I thought, for me, was to take a few private lessons first to break the ice. Then if I liked it, I’d enroll in regular classes. After one session I signed up for ten more private lessons with the intent to immediately sign up for the weekly classes! The beautiful thing about this first lesson was that it opened my mind to an entirely different world. Now my mind is racing in more directions and providing me more brain and body activity which honestly just gave me the energy to sit down and complete this article.

The more I work, the more I Want to Work
I realized this years ago when I was as busy as ever, switching between many different brain activities. I was working on several teams across AWS, Microsoft Azure and Office 365 while at the same time sponsoring the Capstone University teams and at the time I had just started to lift weights. All of these activities fed off of each other. I broke my procrastination and created a cycle of activity. The BJJ class I just attended reminded me of this. Working harder leads to more work and more work and more brain activity and more body awareness and more work.

Stay engaged with mind and body. There is always time to make a change. Make small ones. Make big changes. Make them right now. Do it! Get out of your seat and run for a mile (or walk – start easy!)

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