Work has a habit of revealing a lot about you.
Coworkers watch what you do and then draw conclusions like you:
- Really know how to get stuff done the right way (or not)
- Are someone who should be promoted (or never allowed to supervise)
- Want to keep getting better (or only do enough to get by)
You assess yourself too each time you cross a work hurdle, discovering that you:
- Take to new assignments with relative ease (or struggle with new expectations)
- Collaborate easily with others (or create conflict)
- See a future for yourself there (or can’t wait for a way out)
Our career stops can be either greenhouses or dark holes.
It’s your call.
Our careers are what we make them. They’re a product of the work we do.
Career problems arise when we forget that we’re doing the driving.
For lots of compelling reasons, we convince ourselves that the most important things are to:
- Keep our jobs
- Get promoted to anything
- Work endless hours as though that’s a sign of our value
- Acquire the trappings of success (titles, perks, access, and raises)
To avoid getting lost on a road to somewhere you don’t want to be, you need to keep asking yourself no-nonsense questions like:
- Why did I take this job?
- What am I working toward and is that what I really want?
- What are my options?
- What’s my plan?
It’s tempting to set these questions aside when you think you’ve landed your dream job. But one day, you’ll wake up and realize there are other dreams you’re ready to chase.
Career growth is intrinsic compensation. It’s not the training programs your company offers. It’s what you seize when you’ve mastered your job, developed your skills, and engaged in new experiences.
I started my career teaching high school in an upscale school district. I was excited to be learning so much about how to do the job well, handling challenging students, and discovering how schools really worked.
In the mid-1970s I had relocated and was teaching in a suburban school at a time when teachers weren’t held in very high regard. There were strikes and I was becoming disillusioned. After 10 years in education, growth stalled for me. So I moved on.
Instead of growing in that career, I was starting to lose myself.
It happened again when I was a manager at a big corporation. The first 10 years were full of growth, discovery, and ever-increasing challenges, followed by five years honing that growth, and five more on a mammoth change project. When what lay ahead was more of the same, off I went.
Listen to your inner voice.
If you’ve read this far, you know whether or not you’re growing in your career or losing yourself in it.
You also likely have a sense of what the next couple of years will look like for you and what your job will give or take from you. Now’s the time to plan your next steps.
Mike Greenberg, ESPN radio and TV host, offered this advice on the Mike & Mike program (9/25/13):
You can’t wish for things as they used to be. Just go with the way things are.
Perhaps your job used to be what you always wanted, but it’s now changed and the company culture with it. The reality is that you won’t get the past back; you only have the way things are to build from. The sooner you have a plan, the happier you’ll be.
Commitment to your growth never needs to stop.
Former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, now 87, was interviewed on the CBS Sunday Morning program (10/20/13) upon the release of his new book. When asked about retirement, he answered:
I don’t know what it [retirement] means. Stop thinking?
When it comes to our careers, there is no reason to stop thinking…and growing.