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Using Unsolicited Advice to Cultivate New Work Habits

Holidays mark the season when every family member crawls out of the woodwork to wish you well. Or, all too often, they poke their heads out to examine your life choices, work habits, and sense of style to offer up the most remarkable unsolicited advice they have. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked out with my family. They’re all wonderful, and they do their best to shy away from being too judgmental. But even I get my fair share of weird pieces of wisdom from my family around the holidays. 

As much as it feels good to ignore that advice and affirm yourself that your way is the right way, maybe this year it’s time to find some sense in what our relatives have to say. 

After all, recent FlexJobs research highlights that 42% of American employees are currently stressed. Perhaps using family wisdom to cultivate new work habits is precisely what we need right now. 

Here are seven examples of how to put wise words to work…at work: 

1. “Normal is nothing but a setting on a washing machine.”

work habitsTranslation: There is no point in trying to be normal or establish a work pattern that feels normal. Rhythm is good, but a sense of normalcy is an illusion. 

Work habits to implement: 

Expect uncertainty. Even when the world isn’t in the middle of a pandemic, you can’t be in control of everything, nor should you be. 

Allow yourself to get pushed out of your comfort zone and acknowledge that it is inevitable to feel unsteady from time to time. These experiences aren’t signs that you’re doing something wrong; they’re…”normal.”

2. “It’s all about relationships.”

Translation: You can be the best and most productive employee on the planet, but that gets you nowhere unless you develop connections with your co-workers and employer. 

Work habits to implement: 

Engage with the people around you! Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work lists collaboration/ communication and loneliness as the top complaints of remote workers. And you have the power to fight it!

Take the initiative to check in on your colleague’s day, learn a bit about who they are outside of the workplace, and be attentive during those conversations. 

Building relationships with the people you interact with every day goes a long way toward a healthy work environment and greater satisfaction at work. 

3. “But have you tried looking at it another way?”

work habitsTranslation: I heard this question far too often in high school that I got sick of it. Now, I refer to it all the time. What can you learn from negative situations? If you’re in conflict with someone, what are their motivations to be acting in a way you dislike? 

Work habits to implement:  

Nobody views every situation the same way, and that’s healthy! It sparks creativity and collaboration, leading to brag-worthy projects to present. 

But it can also lead to conflict with others and with yourself. If you refuse to approach your mistakes at work from various perspectives, you’ll never be able to forgive yourself. And if you don’t take the time to understand someone you butt heads with, that tension will only continue to brew. 

To cultivate a great work environment, give yourself moments to pause and remember that the world is not black and white.

4. “What would you regret more?”

Translation: Decisions are hard. Ask yourself which option you would most regret not getting to explore. (That’s the one you should go with.)

Work habits to implement: 

Important decisions should be thoroughly thought-out, but you’ve got to avoid decision paralysis when it comes to making smaller, everyday choices. You’ll lose at least half the workday fretting over what to do if you can’t learn how to make the call promptly. 

Take a quick walk, ask for advice, talk it out with yourself or a pet or a plant, and question what would you regret more if you don’t do it. Then pick something and stick with it.

5. “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” 

work habitsTranslation: It is best to find a balance between too much and too little. But there are also special occasions when excess or complete elimination is necessary…like when it’s absolutely imperative for me to overindulge in cookies on Christmas Eve. 

Works habits to implement: 

You need to start practicing moderation in the workload you’re willing to take on. The same FlexJobs survey reports that 75% of people have experienced burnout at work. It’s not healthy, and you need to stop. 

One week, you might realize that your work-life balance is finally stabilizing. The next, something will come up at work, and you’ll struggle if you keep attempting the same work-life ratio. Find a happy medium and continuously adjust as needed. 

Recommended reading on stress management at work: How to Manage When You’re Overwhelmed at Work 

6. “That’s so good!” 

Translation: The first time I hung out with my mom’s boyfriend, I felt like I was drowning in all the compliments he bestowed. But, whether we’re comfortable accepting them or not, they are necessary for everyone’s mental well-being.  

Work habits to implement: 

Acknowledge your accomplishments. Big or small, you deserve to find ways to celebrate your victories even if you’re the only one who knows about them. 

Put “you did such a great job with this” or “that’s so good” on a sticky note on your desk where you’ll see it often. The validation feels excellent coming from others, but it isn’t going to sink in until it comes from within. 

7. “Why make bread when you can build cities!”

Translation: There’s no point in restricting yourself when you have the means to push yourself further. (For the record, my brother declared this while we played Catan. In the context of the board game, I promise it did make sense.)

Work habits to implement: 

Take the risk. Ask for the raise. Go above and beyond on a team project. Stop playing in the little leagues at work when you are perfectly capable of going pro. 

At a certain point, you have to recognize that you’re doing fantastic where you’re at — but staying comfortable doesn’t do you any favors in the long run. So don’t settle. 

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About Sanya Grace Kunicki

Sanya Grace is an intern at Ride the Sail Marketing, serving as a Marketing Associate. Writing, researching, and learning new approaches have always been a favorite that never gets old! In her free time, she is busy playing board games with loved ones, spending time in nature, and gearing up for her junior year at Hood College.