More often than never, we wait for our next challenge in our career path. There are those who eagerly and anxiously wait for a chance to pursue what makes them move to the next step or next level. They meticulously plan their paths to glory. Then there are those who don’t plan and believe in the good old “Ride the tide” way of reaching their destinations. Grabbing every opportunity that comes their way and believe that its a fit for their career growth. And of course, last but not the least, those who plan their career paths but are always open to newer domains, newer opportunities.
I count myself in the last but not the least group as I can always relate to them better than the others. In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed how he wakes up every day with a thought in his mind “What am I doing with my career? Am I doing something that I’m passionate about? Am I being true to my work ethics?” And apparently, this thought lingers in his mind throughout the day. I didn’t have a ready answer for him but I didn’t definitely tell him to put a sock in it and ride the tide.
After a long thinking session during my everyday commute (I don’t ride or drive to office, don’t judge me!) and having conversation with other friends and mentors. The conclusion is: If you have had that thought in your mind that means you already know the answer for it too! It’s not the end of the world for you. Here are a few things I would like to share with everyone:
1. Have you considered talking to your manager? In most cases, people are hesitant or are overly conscious about talking to their managers/mentors about their career challenges and aspirations. Your managers will be your first point of contact to discuss your career path, aspirations, or ask about a project that could bring out the best in you. A simple conversation with your manager can always give you a plenty think about. If you have any blind side that you probably work on to reach the next level of your career path. I can tell by experience that it has always helped me with my career after having discussions with my managers. It will allow you to align yourself with your career path
He who strongly desires to rise up will think of a way to build a ladder. – Japanese Proverb
2. Do you have a confidante at office? If you are among those who don’t feel comfortable talking to your managers, you can surely speak your mind with your most trust worthy colleague who has gathered fair amount of experience in his/her career. Keeping these kind of talks within yourself will become toxic over time if you don’t learn to share it with someone. Without feeling guilty, do tell him or her about your passion and ask what you could do to pursue it. They might be able to share their thoughts and experience which, you never know, might help you a great deal in charting your career path and end up getting yourself a great friend!
A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise one learns from the mistakes of others. – Unknown
3. Could it be because you are in a monotonous environment? Often, people tend to get used to their daily routines and make it their comfort zones. Your questions about your “career” and “Life” might be rising because you are in a monotonous environment and you’re too used to your task that it allows you to over think about it. Physical movement keeps us from being mentally stagnant. As per a study, taking a break once an hour or so increases your work productivity. You are not a bird and your seat is not a nest! Get up and move around!
Even monkeys can fall from their trees. – Japanese Proverb
4. Are you qualified to pursue your passion? Qualification doesn’t mean your certifications that you may have earned over the years. It is the overall effort that you have put into achieving your desired career goal. Ask yourself, if you have done the same thing over and over again, are you at least an expert in your current or chosen domain? If not, have you ever done something to be outside of your comfort zone for your management to notice that you have what it takes? If you’re not outside your comfort zone, you won’t learn anything. If you are a software engineer and are passionate about music, you can’t expect that to help with “career” progress.
He, who strongly desires to rise up will think of a way to build a ladder.
5. Should I look out for other challenges and opportunity? A job change is always an individual’s decision. Most often backed by their families. If you feel that your full potential is not being used, re-read the point 1 I’ve written and have a sit down with your manager and find out if there are opportunities that might be in works which you don’t know about. It shouldn’t be the case where you don’t ask and right after you leave the job your replacement gets your dream project. (I’ve seen that happen.) Individual status meetings with managers are the right forums to find more about the future. If you don’t see yourself fitting in any plans that is when you should think of taking the decision. The obvious answer to “If I should look out for other challenges that interest me” will always be “if you’re wondering that means you’re not satisfied. In other words, you need to consider options and take a risk.” Don’t believe it? Check out the status update I had put in and the following comments.
Do not hold back that which is departing; do not chase away that which is arriving. – Japanese Proverb
6. Are you confident about your decisions? In an ever evolving world, decisions have changed lives for good and bad. A decision to move out to what seems to be a great opportunity in your career requires you to be sure and confident about your decision. Because it not only affects your financial well-being and status in the societal terms, but also will also affect your dependents. And have said out loud, as much as you would love to take credit for your success in your career or life. Don’t blame anyone for your failures. Be committed to your decisions. Here is video from Rocky Balboa that will definitely inspire you. Whenever I feel demotivated or low in my life I watch this video and it energizes me from my heart! Heck! This video might even make shark out of a goldfish!
Having taken the time to think, venture to act. Once you’ve done so, stop thinking. – Proverb
7. Stay away from toxic people. I say this because not everyone looks out for you. Be sure to pick the right ones to be around. Some will add-on to your dilemma and will make you feel low. Positive people bring in more positivity. From my personal experience, smiling often will help you declutter your thoughts. I used to look like a grumpy old guy at my work, my manager even went to extent of buying me a desk ornament which reads “Smile: cause it feels so good!”
8. You are not a failure just because you didn’t achieve some of your goals. Life is more to what meets the eye. Going into depression will not help you progress in anything.
The above thoughts are my own and are from my experience. These might not always be the case for everyone. These are my checklists and thought process that have helped me in setting my career path. If you would like to talk to me, feel free to drop note to [email protected]