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Tips for a Successful New Year

Do You Accept the Challenge?

A new year is upon us as we gear up for a fresh start in both our personal and professional lives. We all have a goal that we strive for in the new year – maybe it’s joining a gym and losing some weight, maybe it’s saving up for a new house or a much-needed vacation with your family, or maybe it’s striving for a prosperous and more meaningful time at work. My focus in this article is on the latter. 

We all work, so why not make that time more enjoyable? Before joining the fire protection industry, I ran my own company that held business networking events around the country and I spoke a lot on panels about best practices to engage yourself more in your line of work. During that time, I found one common theme throughout most of my travel and public speaking: most people don’t get involved in anything work related outside of their cubicle and 9-to-5 job. They literally just punch in and punch out. Does this sound like you?

Sometimes I wish there was a study on how involved those people are outside of just their job description as it would give a clearer understanding on a few key points. Are those who are happier with their career path more involved and engaged in their line of work outside of their 9-to-5 duties? Do they feel more satisfied by understanding current events and topics in the industry as well as meeting some of the key players in their market and learning the progression on how they got to that level?

Some of the most successful people I know both in the fire protection industry and elsewhere are active within their trade – at all different levels of engagement. Since it’s 2019, I challenge you this year to commit more time outside your office to the following 19 priorities:

  • 1. Being active and getting more involved in your industry associations such as AFSA.
  • 2. Learning from your failures and growing from them personally and professionally.
  • 3. Challenging yourself and seeking new opportunities within your company.
  • 4. Writing down some achievable three-month-interval goals.
  • 5. Brainstorming about harder, long-term goals that you would like to accomplish this year. 
  • 6. Seeking mentorship from those who have been in the business longer than you have – those leaders had mentors, too! 
  • 7. Asking questions and truly understanding each level and department of the company in which you’re working – maybe your strengths are better suited in another position that will, in turn, make you a happier employee.
  • 8. Prioritizing tasks during work hours that will leave you time to go to association meetings during lunch or after work.
  •  9. Exuding confidence but seeking assistance when you don’t know the answer – none of us know everything!
  • 10. Expressing gratitude – we’re not perfect and a helping hand is sometimes all you need.
  • 11. Showing humility when you have successes and, more importantly, when you don’t.
  • 12. Modeling a work-life balance – making sure that self-care is a priority. 
  • 13. Enhancing your listening skills – if you talk the whole time, you can’t learn from others.
  • 14. Becoming invaluable at your company – learning more skills at your job and expanding your repertoire. 
  • 15. Getting out of your comfort zone! 
  • 16. Managing stress efficiently – you can’t be productive if you’re constantly overworking.
  • 17. Being a team player – everyone at work should have the same goals – as the saying goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.”
  • 18. Having a positive attitude every day – no one likes working with a grouch! 
  • 19. Probably the most important priority this year: Building meaningful, long-term relationships with people who add value to your everyday life.

If you’re under 40 years old, I hope you can get more engaged and attend your local NextGen events to learn more about what AFSA can do for you. If you’re over 40 years old, I hope that the fire protection industry has afforded you wisdom that you can now bestow as a mentor to aspiring leaders in the NextGen community. The question is, are you up for the challenge this year?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Josh Shapiro is the Mid-Atlantic regional sales manager for Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. in the Washington, DC area. He is the chairman of both the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia chapters of AFSA NextGen and a member of the AFSA National’s NextGen Initiative workgroup. For more information about local events in the Maryland and Virginia region, email Shapiro at jshapiro@reliablesprinkler.com. For more information on AFSA’s NextGen Initiative, visit firesprinkler.org/nextgen.

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