Have you ever considered creating a professional motto?
If not, I highly recommend it.
My workplace motto serves me very well here at BitLoft. However, I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide, “Oh, I need a motto to make my professional life better and more effective.” Instead, it came about more organically.
Okay, the truth is that it happened entirely by accident.
How I Made My Motto
In January, I began my new role as a full-time contractor with BitLoft. I was excited to work for a startup for the first time, and I knew that being able to wear many hats tended to be an advantage in a small company. I began with a hope and a plan to work with as many of my new colleagues as possible.
As a contractor, I didn’t have an official title. I was a “Technical Writer, Grant Writer, and Editor.” But that’s more than a mouthful and was hard to explain whenever I met someone new. I tended to get strange looks that seemed to ask, “Okay, but what are you doing, really?”
I then explained that I could perform research and proposal writing, do any creative writing that needed done, write copy, edit and proofread, and so on.
My message was still too much, though. “But what does that mean?” they asked.
“I’m basically a jack of all writing,” I said, hoping they’d understand.
That didn’t resonate with them either.
So I started asking people what they were working on, and whenever something involved text, I simply said, “I can help with that.”
And that’s when I created what has become my workplace motto: If it involves words, I can help.
It’s concise, positive, and broad, which allows me to be ridiculously cross-functional (just how I like it). What’s even more important, though, is that it works. When I say my motto, people’s eyes light up with ideas because they quickly understand the problem I can solve and the value that I offer.
The Problem: Finding the right words is challenging. That’s a universal problem everyone can relate to.
The Value: I’m ready to help with that challenge.
The Benefits of Having a Motto
A professional motto can…
- Clearly communicate your skill specialization: When people know and understand your specialization, they’re more likely to go to you when they need help with it.
- Support your professional goals: My motto supports my goal to work with multiple teams. If your goal in an entry-level position is to move into management, work that into your motto. If your goal as a street musician is to play music that makes people stop and listen, work that into your motto.
- Motivate you: If your motto aligns with your situation and goals, you’ll want to live up to it. Your motto can help you take actions and make decisions that otherwise might seem daunting. Every time you say the words, they will remind you of your purpose.
Tips for Developing Your Motto
You can establish a motto the same way I did (by happy accident), or you can be more deliberate about it. Here are a few writing tips:
- Make it short but complete. If your motto is too short, you run the risk of it being unclear and unhelpful. If it’s too long, it stops being a motto and starts being a general description. Your motto should have more than 5 words but fewer than 20.
- Make it positive. Avoid using negative words such as can’t or won’t; instead, use positive action words. For instance, a house cleaner wouldn’t want to use a motto of, “I don’t do windows” (even if that’s true). Instead, a better motto would be “No matter what the stain is, I know the right solution.”
- Make it unique to you. I used to work as an editor with other people in the same role. At that time, my current motto wouldn’t have done much good, because all of my teammates were also helping with words. If you work on a team, identify your niche. For instance, an editor might have a motto such as “I make the macros that make editing easier” or “Talk to me if you need a template.”
As you’re wordsmithing, ask yourself what problem you want to solve and what value you can offer for solving it.
Good luck, and may your motto serve you well!
Virginia Sanders is a member of the Marketing team at BitLoft; contact us for more information about our marketing and development services.