When it comes to your career, do most of your actions fall in the hope column? Do you hope you will have a great job. Hope your career will be satisfying? Hope you get that raise? Hope you get that promotion? Do you hope that your job will get better so that you don’t have to look for another one? Friedrich Nietzsche said, “In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.”
Let’s take a walk down memory lane. ______ years ago (insert the applicable days/months/years, you started working at ______ (insert name of the company). You planned to accomplish _________ (insert the goals you had set for yourself). Is there a career disconnect between then and now?
Fifteen years ago I walked into an organization. The career path in my mind was well illuminated. I thought I was in complete control. Never have I been so wrong. A few years into my assignment, the accolades started coming. Life was good; or so I thought. What I failed to realize was that I had unwittingly handed over the reigns to my career.
We all tend to fall asleep on our careers at some point. We are lulled into hibernation. A false sense of security and purpose. We stop asking ourselves “Is this job supporting my personal goals?”, “What do I need to do to become qualified for future roles?” or “Am I learning new things that will accelerate my growth at work?”
Allow me to sound the alarm on your career and re-energize your career focus.
- Treat your career like it’s your own small business – You have a product (you) that you’re selling to your audience (your employer). You are the cleaner, delivery man, security guard, MD, CEO, and CFO of YOU, INC. Stop handing over the reigns to anyone else. Recognize that and the rest will begin to fall in place
- Perform a personal S.W.O.T analysis – Any successful business knows its strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. You should do the same. Figure out what you can take to the bank, what makes you unique, and what you need to work on. A personal S.W.O.T analysis forces you to think about the internal and external factors that can derail the health and direction of your career.
- Employer satisfaction is key for your success – A customer dissatisfied with your product or service will certainly go elsewhere. An employer will do the same if your services are not up to par. When you work in any profession, you need to have a good personal brand. The quality of your brand will determine a great deal about what happens to you. Develop a reputation for delivering on excellence.
- Ensure you have an active R&D department – Research and development is a crucial part of innovation for any organization. It’s a key factor in developing and maintaining a competitive advantage. The same holds true for your career. You must continually learn new skills, methods, techniques, strategies and tactics. Check out my post for ideas. Whether you are a senior manager, a security guard, or any function in between, always remember; be as good as you can be, because there’s always a competitor behind you that may have more and better skills.
- Learn to embrace change – The unfamiliar isn’t to be feared. It can be a chance to turn your life around. If technology is threatening to make your current skills/career obsolete, get retrained and move into a growth industry and function. If a reorganization and/or a downsizing is coming, and you aren’t absolutely indispensable (and very few of us are!), begin looking for opportunities elsewhere. In the same respect, don’t stick with a company that lacks the opportunities or culture to empower your career progress.
Too many of us wait for someone else to create the circumstances that allow us to be happy in our careers. It’s time to slide back into the driver’s seat. Finding the courage to own your career development early will accelerate your pace and make a significant impact to your long-term plans.
“If you don’t build your dream. Someone will hire you to help build theirs.” ~ Tony Gaskins