When you’re re-building your life in your forties and fifties, one of the biggest issues is likely to be spelled M.O.N.E.Y. It’s important that you are earning enough not just to deal with the here and now, but also to be putting something away for your retirement. Perhaps you, like me, are re-entering the workforce later in life. We will have to play catch-up. When my marriage dissolved I had a part-time job covering for someone who was away on vacation. Let me share with you the four things I did which catapulted me from being the last one hired, to the first one promoted.
American producer Aaron Sorkin said, “decisions are made by those who show up”. This might seem fairly obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who call in sick, or make excuses to go home early, etc. Don’t do it. You need to be the most reliable person on that team. You need to turn up, on time, properly prepared, every … single … day. In time, this will be noticed. You will be there when decisions get made. You will be there when the boss is wondering who to ask. You will be there when a problem needs to be solved.
Leave your problems in the elevator
I don’t mean to be harsh, but the truth is that no-one wants to know about your problems. (Well, that’s not true. Your mum does, and your closest friends!). When it comes to the workplace, no matter how nice people are, don’t ever give yourself the luxury of bringing your problems to work. And above all, NEVER bring a grumpy mood to work. I don’t care what has happened, you need to straighten your shoulders and step out of the elevator with a smile.
One night a few years ago, my then 15-year-old decided not to come home and not to tell anyone where he was. By 11pm I had called everyone I could think of, had a raging argument over the phone with my ex, and had called the police. At 2am I had the police were still at my house. At 7am he was located (safe and sound at a friend’s house). At 8am I was at work.
You will have nights like that. Drink water, take two Panadol and smile. Fake-it-until-you-make-it. No-one should have to tip-toe around you because you’re in a bad mood, no matter how justified you may be. And in fact, it can be strangely refreshing mentally to shelve your personal problems while you’re at work.
So, by now you’ve proven yourself to be a reliable and even-tempered person. Guess what will happen next. You will start to be asked to do more. Can you? Can you cover an extra shift? YES! Can you take on some extra responsibility? YES! Can you do a job no-one else wants to do? YES!
The answer, unless it’s absolutely impossible, needs to be YES.
And the result of your yeses will be that your boss will start to lean on you, to look at you as a solution to their problems. Hooray! This is what you want! Because when a position becomes vacant, who will they think of?
Upgrade your qualifications
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When it comes to upgrading your qualifications, it may seem like quite a journey. The good news is that it honestly is just one step at a time. When I did it, I only took one subject per semester, because with work and family it was all I could do. But I did it. I took that step. And after that the next. And eventually it was done. I found that studying on a Sunday at a local coffee shop eased the pain. Buy the largest cappuccino they have, take your notes and a pencil and get busy. It’s strangely satisfying and will be worth it in the end.