For some, success at work seems elusive. But it doesn’t have to be. VitalSmarts research confirms that we can stop yearning to be successful at work and start creating it. According to a study of more than 1,800 employees, the most important factor leading to professional success isn’t luck, natural talent, or even decision-making—it’s habits. Your everyday behaviors trump all else when it comes to influencing achievement. In fact, the respondents attributed nearly 46% of their success at work to having the right habits. Even more surprising is that many of the routines people attributed to their success are incredibly simple.
So instead of assuming that you aren’t as talented as your colleagues, you can start taking action. If you are committed to being more successful at work, these five habits will get you on the right track.
Whether working from home or in an office, it’s easy to get distracted. By learning to eliminate interruptions, you can complete your tasks with more attention and in less time. One productivity technique, sometimes called “eating the frog,” involves identifying one crucial task for the day and doing it first. Email is another notorious distraction. Having your email open all day is like someone calling you on the phone every two minutes or having a mail carrier at your door every five minutes. Instead, check your email at designated times during the day—even if you have to schedule it on your calendar.
Set healthy boundaries
One of the most impactful habits for achieving deep work is blocking off time on your calendar. That approach will make it easier for you to shift gears and focus on the project at hand. Another way to set healthy boundaries at work is to learn to say no. Start by choosing some easy, low-risk situations to practice saying no. For example, say no when your waitress offers you dessert. Say no to the street vendor offering to sell you something. Go into a room by yourself and say no out loud several times. It sounds crazy, but it helps build your “no” muscle.
Building relationships can also help you be more successful at work. Get to know the leadership team and meet people in other departments. Look for mentors that can offer new perspectives. Knowing that you have someone in your corner can strengthen your resilience and boost confidence. Allies within the organization can provide advice and act as valuable sounding boards. Also, when it comes time to recommend individuals for a promotion, you will be a more viable candidate.
Hone your listening skills
Listening is a fundamental communication skill that is often overlooked in the workplace. In a 2020 study by Emtrain, one in ten employees say they do not trust their leaders would listen if they made a complaint. As a result, employees don’t feel supported, impacting their productivity and performance. In addition, 31% of those surveyed said their leaders lack empathy and don’t show interest in their direct reports. To be more successful at work, practice active listening. One way to do this is to pay attention to body language and other nonverbal cues. This approach not only establishes trust but also sets a good example and helps you make better decisions.
Record and communicate accomplishments
When you look at your resume and LinkedIn profile, does it look like a laundry list of job duties? Instead, record and communicate your accomplishments on an ongoing basis. To be more successful at work, focus on quantifiable results to make yourself stand out. Some examples could include:
- Number of people you’ve hired or managed
- Number of units sold
- Number of customers served
- Process improvement percentages
- How you rank in performance
- Increase in market share
- Amount of money you’ve saved
- Monetary budgets you’ve managed
- Awards you’ve won
Even if you can’t be that precise, consider using less-specific descriptors like “best,” “top,” or “highest” to illustrate your accomplishments.
Whether working at a large corporation or small startup, great work habits help you stand out from the crowd. Try developing one or two of these first and see how it goes. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself along the way. With consistency and a solid work ethic, you’ll be able to advance professionally that much faster.