Before a meeting or a team project kicks off do you ever pause and ask yourself: What are my goals? How do I want others to perceive me?
Not doing so because of stress, time struggles—or other lame excuses—leaves you unfocused, unbalanced and unprepared and even puts your reputation at risk.
I recently attended a meeting with guns a blazing. I was loud, combative and even a bit accusatory. The topic was one I was passionate about as it involved a project that impacted my team.
For weeks, I had voiced my concerns about the way we had been approaching the project but no one seemed to be listening or taking action. While my determination was on point, my style was all wrong.
Instead of strategically getting the project manager’s attention (along with everyone else’s) I let my emotions get the best of me. To be candid, my behavior was unprofessional, distracting and quite frankly, looked like a kid at a candy store who didn’t get what they wanted.
As a consequence, I didn’t accomplish my goal of influencing and engaging others, and instead, my unpolished behavior caused the manager and others to shut down and avoid engaging me in the conversation.
This teachable moment has motivated me to get back in the habit of checking in with myself and here is how you can plan on doing the same.
Create a mission and vision statement
Years ago, I created personal mission and vision statements that I kept visible on my desk. Because they were visible I would read them a few times a week. Reading my personal mission and vision statements so frequently helped to ensure I stayed true to who I was and who I wanted to be.
Plan on creating a new mission and vision statement to encompass more of who you are today and where you want to be. Make sure you read and review them regularly. Here’s a great way to get started.
Even go as far as to get your personal statements professionally printed on a notepad so you can always have them with you (if I had thought about this a few weeks ago I am confident my meeting would have gone better).
Be more self-aware
Plan on checking in with yourself each morning before you start your day. This will ensure you have a better understanding of how you’re doing emotionally and that you have a solid understanding of what you need to do to stay calm and composed throughout the day. Being mindful of your feelings and goals before the day starts will give you the opportunity to proactively plan out your communication strategies and will also allow you to be more adaptable in meetings.
Plan on asking yourself these questions:
- How can I put my best foot forward?
- How do I feel about the meeting topic?
- Is there anything personally or professionally going on in my life that could possibly prevent me from staying true to my mission and vision statement?
- What do I hope to accomplish?
- What stress management technique will I use if I find myself getting upset?
Also plan on checking in with yourself at the end of the day. This will ensure you’re learning from your successes and failures. Ask yourself these questions:
- What was one approach I took that worked?
- What was one approach that didn’t work?
- Could I have done anything differently?
- How do I think others perceived me?
- What did I accomplish?
- Did my actions support my mission and vision statements?
Keep a journal
It takes continuous awareness, reflection, and hard work to change any of your old habits, especially if you haven’t been self-reflecting. Taking the time to document some of the check-in questions listed and answers, wins and struggles will help ensure you have your learnings documented so that you have a valuable self-wisdom resource always at your disposal.
While learning the hard way is never enjoyable it does lead to self-growth and development; if you let it.
Danielle Clark is a human resources manager with more than 10 years of HR and customer service experience in healthcare and retail organizations. Her work with Fortune 500 companies, in addition to a diverse professional and academic background, has trained Clark to be results-driven, people-focused and a thought-provoking leader. Her goal is to educate and inspire professionals to change their way of thinking. She is also an adjunct professor, active community volunteer, wife, mother and passionate lifelong learner.