If you work the most hours you look the most desperate. You shouldn’t look lazy, but don’t be the hardest worker. After all, why do you need to work so much harder than the next person? Are you not as smart? Not as organized? Not as confident in your ability to navigate a non-work world? In many cases all three are true for those who work the hardest.

The fact that the hardest worker is not necessarily the most successful rears its head before work even starts: A study conducted by Alan Krueger, professor of economics at Princeton University, shows that when it comes to workplace success, it doesn’t matter if you get in to an Ivy League school, it matters if you apply. In this case what matters is ambition and self-image, not getting the best grades or having the best test scores.

Nonstop work offers diminishing returns after graduation as well. Marita Barth is a student at MIT in biological engineering. She is at the top of her field yet she makes time to play ice hockey and volunteer at local charities. When she talks about taking breaks from her lab, Barth says, I could not maintain focus and energy if I worked nonstop. I would completely lose perspective.”

Don’t tell yourself that you work nonstop because you love your work: If you really loved your work, you’d take a break so you don’t mess it up. People who work longer than the typical eight hours a day start to lose their effectiveness quickly. “If you work all the time, you lose your edge,” warns Diane Fassel, CEO of workplace survey firm Newmeasures and author of Working Ourselves to Death. “Often these people are perfectionists, controlling and not good team players. The hardest workers are “not the best producers in terms of efficiency and creativity.”

Ironically, moments that elevate your level of success at work often require time away from work. For example, a grand idea that impacts your company's bottom line probably won’t come to you when your brain is entrenched in workplace minutia. Anyone can work the hardest, but only special people can sit on a rock and come up with a brilliant idea. In fact, even daily troubleshooting requires some mental space. Barth has found that, “It takes a lot of thought to see what’s going wrong and make another plan. And at some point, if I spend too much time in the lab without a break, I’m not efficient.”

If you can’t stop working, you might be in for some bad news: Workaholism. Kevin Kulic, professor of psychology at Mercy College, says, “With any of those -holics, you are one if it causes you or other people a problem.”

But some people purposely create imbalance. “For many people, workaholism is about perfectionism or avoidance,” says Kulic. The hardest workers have actually lost the self-confidence to stop working. They are either terrified of making a mistake or a misstep, or they are terrified of the world that lies beyond their work — for example crumbling personal relationships.

Kulic cites the Yerkes-Dodson law that says too much or too little stimulation is bad. We need a happy medium in order to perform best. And Fassel cites worker surveys that support this law — the happiest workers have a workload that falls in between very heavy and very light.

This rule for working less applies to a job hunt, too. Many of you will be happy to hear that, “The amount of time you work beyond five hours a day has no impact on your ability to land a job” — good news brought to you by David Perry, managing partner of the recruiting firm Perry Martel International and co-author of Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters.

Perry told me that a job hunt is like training for the 50-yard dash. “Everything is aimed at getting the interview. And you need to be mentally prepared.” Just as an athlete does not over train for the race, a job hunter will also experience defeating fatigue if there’s too much energy spent on the hunt.

Perry is adamant that the best jobs do not go to the smartest person or hardest worker but to the person who best reads his or her situation. So forget being the hardest worker because you need to be “bright eyed and bushy tailed.” Get out from behind that computer each day, he says and “enjoy the rest of your life.”


I went on a business trip and I took my mom. When I got there it was apparent that I was underdressed, so we went shopping. I planned on getting rid of my ratty sneakers, but my mom said I needed a suit. Somehow a civilized disagreement turned into an all-out fight with me and my mom using clothing as a metaphor for everything we hate about each other. At some point, I said under my breath, “I’m going to write about this is my column.”

My mom said, “Don’t do that! You’ll make yourself look bad! People will know you didn’t dress properly.”

But here it is. For the world to know. I dressed inappropriately. I ended up buying expensive shoes that I already had at home. And I fought with my mom in public.

Surely you’ve had a moment of failing — maybe similar to this one. Don’t be so quick to hide it from people, because the new battleground in business is authenticity and you’d better get some.

The Harvard Business Review (paid) reports this month that authenticity is the trait that uniquely defines great leaders. Generation Y values authenticity above almost everything else, according to a report from demographic research firm Yankelovich Partners. You can already see that playing itself out in advertising, where glitz is over. The power of authenticity hit me recently, when I had a speaking engagement at the Richard Ivey School of Business in Ontario, Canada. In a post-event survey, the reaction of the students was very positive; though ironically it wasn’t the content of the speech they cited so much as the authenticity.

Research about authenticity by Rob Goffee, professor at the London Business School, explains that authenticity is largely defined by what other people see in you. So you have a good amount of control over how authentic you appear.

Being genuine means you don’t do or say things you don’t believe. Everyone understands this in principle. But people who are authentic are fanatical about it. The other quality you need for authenticity is to be able to relate to a lot of types of people — otherwise you’ll have a career where you only connect to people who are like you.

The first thing, then, is to know who you are and what you believe. Then you need to have confidence that being your true self will get you where you want to go. But you don’t need to tell everyone everything about yourself every time. It would be impossible, in fact, and any attempt at that would sound insane. You need to manage your authenticity by revealing the parts of you that will best connect with your audience.

Success at work requires working well with many different types people while remaining true to yourself. You do not have to agree with everything your boss does, for example. But you have to speak about his policies in ways that remain true to your own values — which means not lying but not undermining your boss, either. People who think this task is impossible are actually people who are too lazy to be authentic.

The real work of authenticity is not just knowing yourself, but taking the time to understand where other people are coming from and to respect them for that. If you have a fur coat and you love skiing, talk to the animal rights activist about skiing and talk to the seventy-year-old heiress about fur coats. In both cases you can be authentic without putting the other person off.

A lot of people think that the business world is not compatible with authenticity. However the exact opposite is true; those who stand out as leaders have a notable authenticity. People are attracted to authenticity because the alternative is so disappointing: Cliched relationships, empty promises and conversation with no soul. What people value in business is what they value in all of life, and that is a real connection. People need to see a genuine part of you and they need to relate to it. So in many cases, a wardrobe mishap or fight with your mom is a good opening.

Cold calling is for champions. It used to be that cold calling was for the losers so low on the corporate ladder they were falling off the last rung. But today it's clear that cold calling is an art form, and people who are good at it can do a lot for themselves — most notably get a job.

Skeptical? Well, I'm not sure you have much of a choice. Fewer than half of all available jobs are advertised and most people don't get jobs through listings. So how are you going to find them? Your best odds are networking. But most people exhaust their network in a month, and most job hunts last at least four months. So after networking, the best thing to do is probably cold calling.

Everyone knows that it's really hard to make a cold call, so people will respect you for trying. But you'll get self-respect, too. Because if you only respond to ads, then you are basically running a passive job hunt, waiting for something to pop up on your computer screen. If you approach companies you're interested in, whether or not they post jobs, then you are taking control of your hunt, and actively trying to attain your goals.

Think of all the times in life you regret. Usually it was when you didn't take a more active role in your life. When you didn't take control of your life. In this sense, you can't lose making a cold call. No one ever says to themselves, “I wish I hadn't been so aggressive in trying to get what I wanted.” If you are aggressive, and you don't get what you want, you probably weren't going to get it anyway. So might as well go down swinging.

The easiest and most obvious cold call is not really even cold. It's a follow-up call. This is what you do when you've been sending tons of resumes out and you are receiving no interviews: After you send your resume, call the hiring manager to say you really want the job.

You will probably have to dig a lot to find the hiring manager. But hey, you have all day to dig, right? You'll have to call human resources. Maybe some random dialing within the department. Maybe some Googling. But you can find someone who sounds like they might be the hiring person and ask who the hiring person is. Sooner or later someone will tell you.

Once you get that person, pitch yourself on the phone. That pitch has to be good. Friendly, informative, fast. This is the crux of the art form. Then, ask if you can come in for an interview. Even though the advertisement says no calls, a call is a great way to get someone to pay attention to you when there's a huge pile of resumes.

You can use this same tactic even if there is no job offered and you have not sent a resume. Just call someone in a department that interests you. Business development in an advertising agency. Marketing at a Fortune 500 company. Tell the person you're interested in that industry, and you really admire the company and you'd like to schedule an informational interview. If you ask for a job the person can say no, outright. But information? That's not so easy a no. Of course, the person has information. And you'd be surprised how many people are willing to give it if you just ask.

Then you need to be charming. And smart. If the person loves you, she might make a spot for you in her department. Or maybe she has a friend who is hiring. Who knows? You never will until you try.

It's all about odds. You need to have the ego strength to dial these people all day. You only need one person to say yes. That yes means you expanded your network that day. And all those people who say no, you'll never see them again. They are gone. No need to feel bad or embarrassed. It's over. Move on.

Of course, the odds are not great that the cold call will work every time, but you only need it to work really well once and then you're done. You have a job.

Unemployment is traumatic, and people who have been there never shake the fear of going back. If you've spent five months job-hunting (an average amount of time) you have probably faced worry, uncertainty and financial desperation.

Here are some things you can do while you are employed so that next time you're looking for work, the task is much, much easier:

Save money
The worst job hunt experiences are when you have to take the first job you get because you are risking financial ruin. If you save money when you are employed you'll be able to be a lot more picky when you're looking for a new job. Almost everyone is desperate when they are unemployed, and one of the hardest things to do in an interview is act self-confident when you're feeling down. This task if even harder if you're going to be out on the street in three weeks.

Also, unemployment gives you lots of time but little money to spend. If you have some savings you'll be able to enjoy the time you have when you're not working. After all, you can't job hunt all day every day — it would make you crazy.

This isn't something you do when you need a job. It's something you do when you have one, when you're feeling confident. If you are good at making connections with people, and you do it regularly, then people will be there to help you when you need a job. If you contact people only when you need help you are not a networker, you are a sponge.

You don't need to be friends with everyone, but you need to have some real friends. Note that friends are not people you go out drinking with occasionally. Friends are people you are very honest and forthcoming with, and people who depend on you. When it comes time to get help, it's not the people you're friends with who will help — they have the same information that you do. It's the friends of friends who will help. And they don't come by way of superficial connections.

Focus on achievements
Your resume is what gets you an interview. Even if you are using connections from your network, sooner or later, someone will say, “Send me your resume and I'll take a look.” Your resume should have a few, huge achievements that the rest of the lines are built around. When you are gainfully employed, look for opportunities to create these achievements.

This means being selective in what projects you take on. Projects that are going to do very little for your resume should not take up a lot of your time — do them as quickly as possible and move on. Projects that will give you the chance to highlight grand and quantifiable results on your resume are projects you should be willing to volunteer for. These projects are worth working late nights, taking on huge risk, and working with people you hate.

On a well-crafted resume, one line of greatness can cut months off your unemployment suffering.

Be creative
The jobs that are staying in the US feature some form of creativity — from troubleshooting, to management to strategy. Hone your skills as a creative thinker so that you can sell yourself that way next time you need to find a job.

So many people who are in non-creative jobs tell me that they are creative and their job is safe from off-shoring. They are delusional. Here's a test to give yourself:
Do you come up with new product ideas or features?
Does set up intra-departmental process?
Do you work face-to-face with other people all day?

If you answered no to all three questions think hard about how to make your job more creative and people-oriented so that you can find a new job without moving to India.

The good news is that each of these recommendations will improve your career. Your work will be more interesting and you will bring more joy to your job and the people you meet. The added benefit is that you will have it easier next time you are unemployed, which means a little less worrying now.

Anyone who owns a small business knows that if you don't reinvest in the business, the business dies. So why do so many people fail to reinvest in themselves? Even if you work for someone else, you are running a small business: The business of you. You provide a product and you have to market it and make it better and better so you earn more and more money.

If you put all your money into savings, you are like a business with a lot of cash on hand but only small potential for growth. If you spend all your money on fun and toys you're like a business run by executives who throw lavish parties they can't afford and drive the business into the ground. Your aim should be to save a little (for security's sake) splurge a little (for sanity's sake) and reinvest most of your money back into your business: You.

You the careerist that is. Here's what the business of you needs in order to expand: Headcount. Here's what you need in ascending order, depending on how much money you have.

Childcare — pay the highest rate in your neighborhood
The first thing you need to grow a career is to clear your head so you can think. If you have to worry about childcare, if you have to argue with your spouse during the workday about who is picking up the kid, you are spending time in ways that don't grow your business. Pay enough money for a caregiver who can do the job without you micromanaging.

Personal Assistant – $10 an hour
Take a look at your to do list. Think about how long each task will take, and whether or not a person can do it for $10 an hour. Your time is worth more than $10 an hour. So why are you doing tasks that you can pay $10 to have done? Don't tell me you need to do everything. If it's not integral to your life plan, you don't need to be doing it. Examples: Shopping, dry cleaning pickup, waiting for a plumber.

A therapist – $125 per session, but try to get your insurance company to pay
I'm a big fan of therapy. The more you know about yourself the more likely you are to make good choices for your career. Also, the problems you have outside the office usually pop up inside the office also. So go to a therapist to deal with non-work problems and your work life will improve.

Speaking coach – $300 per session
Charisma can make up for a lot of shortfalls, and good speaking skills gives you more charisma. You probably think you're charismatic already, but there's always room for improvement. People believe that a charismatic person is better to work with than a non-charismatic person. You'll also learn to speak in a way that makes people trust you and believe in your judgment. Scary, but true: This is teachable.

Publicist — $1000 month
Most people who are quoted by the press actually have publicists. For a CEOs publicists are a packaged deal with the job: A PR department. For other executives, and even up-and-coming managers, a publicist is someone you hire. Your name will get into the world and you will have an easeier time getting a new job, easier time making sales, and more justifcation for asking for higher wages. I know, you're thinking, how crass. But it's the way the world works. If you want to be noticed in your field, hire a publicist.

I bet you're saying, “Penelope is out of her mind. This is so much money.” But if you reinvest 20% of your cash back into your career, which is, in fact, very low as small businesses go, then this list starts looking reasonable. I have hired each of these people at some point in my career, and the return on investment for each easily exceeded cash output. Really.

The fact that good-looking people make more money is truer for women than men, which is especially unfair, because it is very hard to not gain a million pounds when you're pregnant; I gained sixty. This column is about my two-month quest to lose that weight, and the importance of making a plan for any large and difficult goal.

I happen to have a book deal that is predicated on a grand speaking tour, and the speaking tour is predicated on me not being overweight, and the bookings need to start in September. If I can't line up speaking gigs, I can't promote my book, and if I don't promote my book, it won't sell and I won't get another contract. So losing weight became my number one job.

This is what my agent said three days after I delivered the baby: “I don't mean to be harsh, but you look terrible.”

This is what my husband said two days later: “The stress of you having to lose so much weight so quickly will kill us both. Give back the money you got for the book.”

I did what works best for me when I'm in trouble: I wrote lists and schedules. I wrote a schedule for two visits a day to the gym and lists for what I would do there each day. I wrote a schedule for the babysitter, who had to come to the gym with me because the baby is not on a bottle. (Yes, I got off the treadmill to breastfeed.) I wrote a list of food — what to carry with me each day, and when to go food shopping, because if I'm starving in front of a bakery with no food in my backpack I'll do the bakery. Finally, I scheduled the date I would go to my agent's office to show her that I lost the weight.

It worked. I lost twenty pounds just by delivering the baby. But I lost forty pounds in two months. People are shocked to see me, and they ask me how I did it. First I tell them that if you had to lose weight in order to earn a living, you'd be able to do it, too. I gained insight into ultra-thin Hollywood; not being able to work if you take too many bites of cookie gives you a lot of self-discipline.

But the bigger factor here is that I came up with a schedule and followed it. And I realized that I could do this for any goal, not just weight loss.

Many times we are scared that we won't meet our most important goals. Decision points cater this fear— they open the door to self-doubt and inaction. But meticulous scheduling up front, and a belief in your planning abilities will allow you to relax; tune out your worries and just follow the plan.

You can't take this advice for everything in life. But making an extremely detailed, well-thought-out schedule to support an ambitious plan, is a great way to ensure you meet your most important goals — the ones that will make or break your career.

Some of you will realize that your career really is stalling because your weight makes you look out of control. For most of you, though, weight loss will not be all that important. But you might have other goals that you worry you won't achieve, such as switching careers, going back to school, or growing your consulting business.

Make a commitment to yourself and to your most important goals by reserving time in your day and space in your head to meet your goals. Great ambitions are not met haphazardly, and many times are not met at all. You can increase your odds tremendously by planning meticulously.

My next step is finding good places to book my speaking tour. I had been worried that this would not work out. But now I feel more confident. I am making a plan, as detailed as I made for the weight loss. And I know if I execute the plan on a daily basis, I will end up with a speaking tour that I like.

First-time managers are generally nightmares to work for. They are people who got promoted by doing a non-management job well, and in fact they probably have little experience in management. Here are four of the mistakes that will undermine a new manager the fastest.

1. Focusing on tasks instead of people.
Before you were a manager, your number one job was to accomplish tasks. You were someone with skills to get something done. Maybe media buying, or programming, or selling. Now your number one job is to help other people to accomplish the tasks in an outstanding way.

Sure, you’ll have tasks, too. As a manager you’ll have weekly reports, budgets, planning. But your tasks are secondary to helping other people to do their tasks. Your job as manager is to get the best work from the people you manage. The measure of how well you’re doing as a manager is how well each individual on your team performs.

Ideally, you should be able to show each person you manage how to see themselves differently so that they are able to produce at a higher level than they ever imagined. For one person this will mean you need to teach organization skills. For another person, you will help her discover what she loves to do and then set her up doing it for you. Each person wants something, and you need to find out what that is. Then help them get it.

In return, your employees will do great work for you. This level of management is superior to task-management; helping people perform at their best impacts the quality of your team’s work as opposed to just getting the work done.

2. Being slow to transition.
Moving into any new position requires that you get rid of the stuff from your old position. This means delegating. It means getting over the idea that you were indispensable on any of your old teams. You can’t do you new job well if you’re still doing your old job.

Delegating your old job should take three days. You find people who are taking a step up when they accept pieces of your old job so that they are excited. You give them an explanation of how to do it and tell them where to go when they have questions.

You are going to tell me that one day is not enough, that you have a very complicated job. But think of it this way: If you died today, your job would be delegated in a couple of days.

Delegating is not enough, though. You have to stop caring. If you are no longer on a project because you got a promotion, then you have to stop obsessing about how the project is doing.
Remember how quickly the girl who dumped you hooked up with her next-door neighbor? You need to move that fast, too.

3. Forgetting to manage up.
Managing up means steering your team to hit goals that the people above you care about. Figure out what matters to your boss, and your boss’s boss, and make that stuff matter to you, too, because you can only impress your boss with your management skill if you are accomplishing things she cares about.

And be loud about your accomplishments. Set measurable goals for yourself and let people above you know that you’re meeting them.

Do this it right off the bat. People’s perceptions of you as a manager will be made during your very first actions. That saying, “People judge you in the first two minutes they meet you,” is true for management, too. So give people reason right away to think you’re doing a good job.

4. Talking more than listening.
My sister-in-law, Rachel, has been a manager for a while. But she just accepted a position where she is managing three times the number of people she had been managing. Her first step was to go on a sort of listening tour of the organization. She had lunch with people to find out what matters to them, she sat in on groups and even visited some people at home, all in the name of figuring out what matters to whom, and how she should set up goals for herself.

Consider your own listening tour as soon as you start in a new position. After all, there’s no way to figure out what people want without getting them talking. And the most annoying thing about any manager — new or seasoned — is when they just won’t shut up.

Wouldn't it be nice if recruiters called you regularly to see if you're interested in interviewing for one of their jobs? Here are some steps you can take to make that fantasy come true:

1. Get a high profile in your industry.
Speak at conferences. You might not get paid in cash, but you'll be noticed. And because you won't get paid, landing a spot on a panel is actually not that difficult. Speakers get noticed not only by conference junkies, but also by the press (a fine line, really). And the best way to get your name in the news is by saying something intelligent and elucidating to someone who can quote you.

Also, if you can afford it, hire a public relations professional. I got the idea for this column from a press release (generated by a public relations specialist) sent to me in the form of an article by David Theobald, CEO of Netshare. Who knows if he really wrote it (I doubt it since writers are cheap and CEOs aren't.) But he does have good ideas. And look, it worked. Now you know his name and might check out his company.

2. Send a resume recruiters can use.
Become a specialist. I once met a recruiter for lunch. She spent the whole meal finding out about me, and then she said, “You need to say what you are up front. Generalists don't help recruiters.” I did not take her advice. At the time, I was scared to specialize — I thought I'd miss opportunities.

But research shows that after five or six years, you will move faster in your career if you establish yourself as a specialist. This makes sense, because a recruiter has to sell you to her client in one sentence, for example, General Motors guy who is a management star, or advertising genius who can take a brand to the top.

Also, create a keyword-friendly resume. No one wants to imagine that their career is dependent on some computer plucking them out of a black hole. But the reality is that recruiters manage large piles of quality resumes with keyword searches. So write a resume that includes the keywords you want to be identified by.

3. Say the right thing.
You never know where you are going to meet a recruiter. Maybe you'll sit next to one on an airplane, or maybe you'll get a phone call in the middle of your busiest day at work. You have to be ready to talk at any time.

So have a pitch about yourself ready to go, and focus on accomplishments. When a recruiter asks, “What have you been doing?” he is sniffing around for star performers, not just people who get their job done. So don't bore the recruiter by listing job duties. (Many people say they cannot do this because the recruiter needs background to understand the accomplishment. This is not true. Everyone understands raised revenues, saved time, and decreased costs. Lead with one of those phrases, and if the way you did the task is a little obscure, you'll still get your point across. Don't bother clarifying details that don't matter.)

Also, be prepared to talk about what you're looking for in your next step. If you can't answer that question, a recruiter can't determine if you're a good fit.

After all this, you're probably wondering what Mr. Theobald has to say. Here's an example: Have a good voice message. “You have only one opportunity to make a first impression, and everyone thinks that’s eyeball to eyeball, but it’s more likely to be on the phone. Be sure the tone and message on your answering machine is upbeat and professional.”

Here is my second annual list of things I hate. However, it seems to have morphed into a list of types of people I hate. But this seems fair; no one's animosity should be limited to inanimate objects.

1. Perfectionists.
These are people who have lost perspective and get nothing done.

Of course, you can guess that I am not a perfectionist. In fact, I am a person who painted my own walls and didn't paint near the windows because I didn't want to do the detail work. I am a person who accidentally addresses the envelope upside down and doesn't get a new envelope.

But there is good that comes out of a lack of perfection: I can set a lot of goals for myself because I get them done.

Let me just cut to the chase:
Perfectionists procrastinate because they are scared of not being perfect.
Perfectionists are hypercritical to the point that they cannot support people around them.
Perfectionists can’t finish a project because they can always think of a way to improve it.
Perfectionists are phony because no one is perfect but they can’t handle showing that in themselves.

2. People with messy desks.
I didn't used to hate people with messy desks. I used to just feel sorry for them. Now I have disdain, because after I wrote a column about the University of Texas study that showed that people with messy desks are not creative, all the messy desk people wrote to me. I realized, from the onslaught of mail, that people with messy desks don't think they have a problem. They are in denial. I wrote about a study. They argued with me. They did not do a study. They told me they are proof that the study is wrong. The emails were so disingenuous and defensive that they actually caused me to have less respect for people with messy desks.

3. People who complain their job is not creative.
It's not your job, it's you. Creative people bring creativity to everything they do, no matter what. It is inside them and no job can stifle it. Some people are driven to do art and will do it no matter what their job is: Think Kafka holding down a job as an insurance company drone. But creativity is not just art, it's also problem solving. If you are good at your job you are undoubtedly creative because any form of success requires some sort of creative problem solving.

4. People who think their problems are unique.
Women in finance who think they are the only ones who suffer sex discrimination. People in government who think they have a corner on bitching abut bureaucracy. Teachers who think they are the only people who have to be “on” all day long. If you have ever told people that your job is especially taxing for one reason or another, you are lame. Your job is not special; all jobs are hard for people who have a hard time doing a job. If you can't cope with sex discrimination in your job, you couldn't cope with it in someone else's job, either. If you can't cope with high standards in your job, you wouldn't meet anyone's high standards. Stop thinking your circumstances are unique. I can't think of one situation where that sort of thinking will help further your career.

5. Grammar mavens.
As a person who is not a sticklers for detail, I tire of people who call out a grammar error like they are a second-grade overachiever who will never get picked in kickball.

But, any list of hated things would not be honest unless the author admits that we only hate the things that somehow remind us of ourselves. So, now that I've admitted that, I will tell you my grammar pet peeve: You should not, ever, in any situation in the whole world, say, “and myself” in the workplace. Use “and me” or “and I” instead. The only way to correctly use “and myself” is if you are doing something directly to someone else and to yourself, so it is a grammatical construction that is basically appropriate for nothing except pornography.

In general, I'm not a big fan of waiting. So here is advice on how to wait from someone who does it only rarely. But I have found that the art of waiting is to do it actively. The more action you can take the more you feel like you're in control of your life.

How to wait for a raise
Most companies have a designated time to dole out raises. So when you decide you deserve more money, you probably have to a wait for your big moment. In the meantime, constantly remind your boss about the good job you are doing, and subtly prepare her with all the supporting material she will need to justify your raise to her superiors. This means documenting as you go, with an email that is easy to add to your yearly review as evidence of outstanding performance. Also, do research about salaries in your field. If the raise comes in low, whip out these statistics to show your value in the market.

How to wait for a job you love
Many people know they are not happy but don't know what would make them happy. The only way to figure out your dream job is to try doing a lot of things. You don't have to change jobs to try something new — you can volunteer, travel, interview people who are in fields you think might make you happy. People who know themselves well can pinpoint the job that would make them happy. So give yourself opportunities to learn about yourself. And think of your career like a mate — you are better off actively looking that waiting for one to magically appear in front of you.

How to wait for an offer
Here's a common scenario: You just interviewed for a job, and you think everyone loved you, and you think you're a perfect fit. So you sit by your phone hoping for a call. This is not a good way to wait. A better way to wait is to step up the job hunting. If you can get another interview during your waiting time you will not be so desperate for the phone call. If you can drum up another job offer during your waiting time, be sure to tell everyone, because you will be more appealing to the employer you really want.

How to wait for a meeting
If you don't know the person you are meeting, assume each person who goes through the lobby is your person. Look occupied and thoughtful but not busy, and be ready to stand up and shake hands. This means, for example, that you cannot have a stack of waiting room magazines on your lap. One is fine. The same is true if it's a meeting with your co-workers and you're the first person there — try writing on a notepad, or checking your Blackberry. Don't stare into space. Not that staring into space isn't productive, but it's like sex, just because it is good for you doesn't mean you look good doing it.

How to wait for a better boss
Assume your boss is never leaving, and change your boss by changing yourself. Become better at managing up. Key factors in being good at this task are: understanding your boss' fears so that you don't play into them; understanding your boss's preferences so you can be easy to deal with; understanding your boss's goals so you can help her to meet them. Difficult bosses are usually scared and overwhelmed. Develop better people skills so you can sooth her worries where possible, and ignore her the rest of the time, so she doesn't derail your career.

How to wait for a better opportunity
Forget it. Create your own opportunities. You can only find opportunity behind a door if you knock. So, knock on a lot of doors — you have no time for waiting.