THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Guide yourself: Four ways to look out for #1

It used to be your workplace identity was tied to your company. "An IBM man" is a phrase that comes to mind. Companies kept track of best practices, hot management ideas, and recent business innovations.

Today our identity is separate from our company. We realize if we don't care for our career no one else will. And we cannot depend on a corporation to keep up to speed on ideas. We have to stay current ourselves.

Here are four ideas to consider using to guide yourself:

Pick a pace that's right for you.

Today, waiting the typical three to five days for a package seems unbearable to some people, and news travels in real time– text-messages sent from parties to bloggers at home, ready to post.

Alexander Kjerulf self-published his book, Happy Hour is 9 to 5, because he thought the typical publishing cycle was too long. The book sells well on his blog, and he's certain he did the right thing.

But fast all the time isn't right for everyone. Adrian Savage, author of Slow Leadership, urges people to accept that workplace success can come from downshifting into a slow gear for a while.

Sloppy networking leads to sloppy results.

The founders of the professional networking site LinkedIn ( tell people that building a network has to be about people you know well. Yet everyday thousands of users invite near-strangers into their network.

Newsflash: People you don't know can't vouch for you. People you have not connected with in an authentic way will not help you. It doesn't matter how full your LinkedIn account is, or how heavy your Rolodex is, if you haven't really connected with these people, it's not a network.

The opposite is also true. If you build a strong network, its effects will ripple. Solid networks make solid results.

Get away from jerks or become one.

If you want to enjoy your work, surround yourself with people who are enjoyable. Most people can tell an obnoxious person right away. But even in light of one of those horrible interviews, candidates often tell themselves they can work with jerks and not be affected.

"If you think you're going to change them, it won't happen. It's easy to resist at the beginning, but if you work with an a**hole you're going to become one" too, says Stanford prof and author Bob Sutton.

Rude interactions have five times the impact on your mood that positive interactions do. Sometimes you can encourage rude co-workers and bosses to be more positive, but not if you're dealing with the worst cases.

How can you recognize those types you need to get away from? Sutton says they're addicted to subtle putdowns, interruptions and they use sarcasm as a way to make a (supposed) joke.

Respect your unconscious decision-making skills.

When you try to make a well-formed, thought-out decision, you'll probably do a bad job unless the information in front of you is limited, according to psychology prof Ap Dijksterhuis.

He found that in situations with a lot of variables, like which soccer team will win the World Cup, people consider too much irrelevant information– which city the game is in, for example– at the expense of more important information– such as the track records of the teams.

The good news is that our unconscious minds are very good at processing lots of information. We have known for a while that trusting our gut is a good idea. But Diksterhuis's research shows that sleeping on a problem gives your unconscious time to sift through information and actually makes our gut decision better.