Woman meditating at her desk in front of a laptop in a how to be your best self at work concept.
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5 common sense tips to be your best self at work

20 Nov 2023

Being your ‘best self’ at work simply means that you set yourself up for success by working on ousting bad habits and adopting good ones.

Making improvements at work is not just about boosting your performance; it’s also about looking at how you work and trying to make holistic improvements to your working life.

You should be re-evaluating your attitude to work every few weeks so you can keep track of what’s working and what’s not working. The important thing is not to become complacent. If you’re struggling to bring what you usually bring to work have a chat with a mentor that you trust or ask for increased support from HR if you need it.

And remember that whether you’re just starting out or you’re aiming for a big promotion, self-improvement should always be on your agenda. You don’t need to take out a loan that is equivalent to a second mortgage and buy a cartload of self-help books; you just need a little bit of common sense and focus.

Focus on you; ignore the noise

Beware of getting caught up in a cycle where you are constantly looking over your shoulder at how your colleagues are performing. The person that matters most to you should be yourself ­– don’t let insecurities or office politics get in the way.

Focus on the aspects of your job you find rewarding and seek out opportunities there. You might find mentors and people who you can be inspired by. Learn from people instead of comparing yourself to them. And if you can’t find anyone to learn from, perhaps you’re in the wrong job. Either that or you need a reality check to appreciate the people you work with. Whether you are the sort of person who has a tendency to suffer from imposter syndrome or you think you’re better than all your colleagues (with no good reason) the answer is the same: work on yourself.

Cultivate a good work-life balance

If you don’t look after yourself and your mental and physical health, you’re in trouble. Work is not separate from our lives; it’s a part of it – and that means you need to take a holistic view of your wellbeing. If you are under a lot of stress, there is no shame in telling someone that you need to take a step back for a while. You are not superhuman.

Don’t let yourself reach the burnout stage because when you’re burned out, you won’t be doing yourself or your colleagues any favours.

Try not to overfill your plate

To use another food-related analogy, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Setting yourself for success means knowing your limits and knowing what you can realistically achieve. Yes, it’s good to work hard but burning the candle at both ends or being involved in too many projects will lead to the quality of your work suffering.

Set realistic goals and targets and avoid trying to outdo yourself and others. Don’t be a martyr to your job.

Stay open

Whether it’s learning new skills or exploring alternative career avenues, having an open attitude is one of the most liberating things you can do for your career. You don’t need to suddenly start saying yes to everything and everyone – remember the advice about not biting off more than you can chew – but embracing new people and new ideas is good for your mind, your social life and your professional life.

Don’t automatically reject an opportunity; think about what it could bring. What are the pros and cons? Taking calculated risks is the sign of a person with vision and tenacity.

Be yourself

It sounds a little bit trite, but being yourself and being true to yourself are both very important – and very simple – things you can do to have a valuable career. Being yourself at work doesn’t have to mean telling your colleagues every last thing about yourself; it’s more about showing who you are through your values and your behaviour. If you’re a leader, this is especially important because your team looks to you for guidance.

As research by Hays and Workhuman has shown, it can be counter-productive to pretend to be someone you’re not at work. Putting on a so-called stiff upper lip and denying your personality can create an environment in which everyone feels uncomfortable around each other.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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