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Reset the Practitioner Mindset for Career Performance and Growth

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Elaine Ahumada
January 12, 2024

Many Westerners revisit goals at the start of each year. According to a Forbes survey in Oct. 2023, the top resolution for 2024 was to improve fitness (48 percent), and the least was to perform better at work (3 percent). It is also no surprise that these “resolutions for the new year” will not be achieved, as most only last a few months.

Ditch the resolution and reset the mindset. Consider performing better at work to be at the top of the list if the desire is career growth in 2024. Work provides elements of structure, interpersonal social interaction, physical activity, and financial stability. Prioritizing performance at work can result in appreciating work daily. Improving career performance is an ongoing mindset for life, not a yearly resolution. A satisfied employee can propel to greater career heights and life satisfaction. Ensuring better work performance is not only the employer’s responsibility. Successful practitioners employ the cultivation of a proper mindset. Setting the course for effective practitioner performance enables improving skills, networks, opportunities and financial gains.

Performing better at work involves setting larger concrete goals through actionable short-term goals with a positive mindset. Clear goals and a positive mindset ensure that each day of work has purpose, excitement and challenge and leads to the career destination envisioned for the future.

Not all practitioner paths are the same. Some paths include the desire to promote, lead or create, while others may imagine retiring with a legacy or knowing of implementing effective succession planning. In either case, practitioner mindset development for improving work performance is necessary to remain relevant, competitive and motivated in a career. With many employers becoming more cognizant of work-life balance, diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) and self-care, the practitioner must also share the investment of creating conditions for career performance, growth and success.

Mindset Reset Tips for the Practitioner

Learn a New Skill

Whether enrolling in one course or an entire degree program, continuous learning improves brain function and confidence and keeps one relevant in a respective field. New skills can lead to new opportunities, a promotion or ignite the inspiration in the self to embark on a new venture in another entity.

Join a Board or Volunteer with a Non-profit

Utilize inherent knowledge for the good of the community. There is joy in realizing how talents and abilities can contribute to improving the lives of others. There is a benefit to witnessing how others run organizations; mere observation can improve leadership skills and serve as mentoring moments. Meet new, inspiring and exciting people. Non-profits celebrate aptitudes and competencies, which pays dividends in the self-esteem bank. According to Ward, K. D., & Miller-Stevens (2021), public sector employees who serve on boards demonstrate the highest levels of public service motivation.

Maximize Efficiency and “Sell Yourself Up”

Consider executing specific work details earlier than the proposed deadline. Evaluate how time is spent while in and out of the office. Intentionally commit to allocating blocks of time in a consistent weekly or monthly schedule for specific tasks. Volunteer to give a presentation, work with a new team or volunteer on a new project. Decide to participate more actively in meetings and offer to assist colleagues. Be visible and vocal and see the rise of workplace credibility.

Self Reflect

Critically analyze an area of weakness and be deliberate about improving it. Consult books and attend workshops or trainings on how to strengthen and shore up performance weaknesses. Contemplate past events, behaviors, attitudes and thoughts and evaluate how to implement change if presented with a similar context, scenario or feeling. Journaling and meditation are productive ways to self-reflect. Self-reflection aids in stress reduction and also enhances personal growth and interpersonal communication.

Validate and Improve Professional Acumen

Join a professional organization related to a precise skill set. Professional networks, like ASPA, provide resources and current information within the realm of specialized work that can lead to exploring new avenues of opportunity. Careersingovernment.com is a helpful site for exploring additional professional associations and career resources.

Visualize Greatness

Practice seeing and believing the end game of the career in the mind’s eye. Imagine how life will be in ten or thirty years or after retirement. When resetting the practitioner mindset, there is no telling what is in store. New adventures, places, people and the best version of the self await at the end of the journey.

Unlike a short-term resolution for a quick and unlikely behavioral change, resetting the mindset is a shift in thinking to allow positive thoughts combined with action to unleash limitless potential. Release the old thoughts that thwarted previous progress. Unravel and work to understand the root causes of past feelings of fear, complacency and monotony to unlock and maximize potential. Allow January 2024 to be the start of new positive thoughts for performing better at work and realizing career growth.

Author: Elaine Ahumada, DPA – Dr. Elaine Ahumada has taught Public Administration and Public Policy courses over the past twenty years. She is the Director of the Doctoral Program in Public Administration at California Baptist University. She has extensive practitioner experience in non-profit consulting and serving on boards for regional non-profits in Southern California. Email: [email protected]

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