Small Wins You Can Claim Today

August 19, 2018

Guaranteed Wins

You can’t control everything that will happen at your job today- but you can guarantee yourself a win.

Sure, many factors that affect your job are outside of your control. You have other people who need to approve things and other teams you need to partner with to complete projects. You might not have the roles on your team to take on a specific task or the go-ahead from management to pursue a new opportunity. As a result, many of the “big goals” you’d love to achieve today, like completing a project or advancing in your career aren’t in your immediate control.

The key to a guaranteed win is to let go of what you can’t control, and focus on what you can.

Here are 6 wins you can claim today that are entirely within your scope of control. All of them are easy things to accomplish today, and all will have an immensely beneficial result in the long run.

1. Mentor Someone

Mentoring in the small things goes incredibly underrated. It doesn’t have to be a formal, scheduled meeting, either. Doing things as simple as a quick code review, sharing a few shortcuts, or explaining the “why” behind a section of code can have a profound impact over time. The great thing about taking the time to invest in others is that when you do it, they grow AND you grow as well. Who doesn’t want a teammate who is a great teacher and coach?

2. Be Mentored

You might not have an official mentor at your workplace, but you absolutely have the power to seek out mentoring input from others. Find people who know things you don’t or who are farther along than you, and learn from them! Trust me, when you intentionally and respectfully seek out someone’s input, they will almost always be happy to give it. Seek out people who are great at things you want to be great at, and learn from them - even if they aren’t on your team, which leads us to…

3. Network

It never hurts to build relationships across your organization. Even if it’s not someone you work with directly, taking time to get to know people from other teams can be an invaluable investment of time. I live by this simple rule- if the only time I speak with someone is when I’m asking them for something, I’m not approaching the relationship the right way. Take time to catch up, listen, and care about people - it’s not just good for your career, it’s good for you as a person.

This win is even more important for those of you who work remotely. Remote work makes an intentional approach to relationships exponentially more important; since you don’t physically walk by people in an office setting you need to be disciplined about pursuing relationship-building opportunities throughout the day.

4. Contribute to Your Team

It doesn’t matter if you work on a team of 2 or a team of 200- contributing to your team is one of the best (and simplest) wins you can get today. If you aren’t open to taking on challenges outside of the work that has been directly handed to you, you can miss opportunities to aid your team in a big way.

The most valuable employees are the ones who elevate an entire team.

Think about how you can step outside of your job description and contribute to your team. Maybe it’s as simple as coming in 5 minutes early and straightening up the break room. Maybe it’s building an automated tool to help with a mundane task many on your team face. Maybe it’s helping craft a solution for a process that’s bottlenecking your team’s productivity. Whatever it is, think of a way to contribute to your team as a whole - no matter how small - and it will be a huge win.

5. Grow in Your Craft

Web developers need to live in a growth mindset. Part of what I love about the development community is that I’m surrounded by people who are continually growing in their craft. This leads to a fantastic mindset of open-source software and free tutorials - we’re all learning, so why try to contain knowledge that could help someone else? No matter what you do, take time to grow in it. Read an article, run through a tutorial, skim some code, read some docs.

You will be amazed how much progress you can make by deliberately working on learning for as little as 15 minutes a day.

Learning is one of the best investments you can make, both for your company and for your own career. If you’re a JS developer like me, one small step you can take is to sign up for the JS Weekly newsletter!

6. Improve Your Personal Organization

One last place where we can all find a small win is in personal organization. I know plenty of brilliant people who have cluttered email inboxes or disorganized files and calendars. Take a few minutes today and do some professional housecleaning - your future self will thank you for it! I’ve been following the zero-inbox policy for about a year and a half now, and it’s amazing how much clarity small things like that bring. Regardless of if you’re a naturally organized person or not, put a little effort into personal organization today- it’s a small win, but a significant one.

John D Potts

John D Potts

Web developer and speaker in Charlotte, NC.