The tendency to leave things the same is natural, comfortable, and easy. However, a time may come when you decide leaving things the same is just no longer acceptable. Perhaps you are working at a job which is OK for now, but you can’t honestly see yourself still being there, doing the same old thing in five or ten years. Additionally, maybe the job isn’t really providing the kind of income you need for yourself or your family. Finally, maybe you’re finding it harder with each passing day to get up and drag yourself into work, especially if you feel little or no personal satisfaction from the work you do.
Would you continue to waste your time with someone in a relationship if you absolutely knew you were incompatible and it was going to go nowhere? You probably know people who are in that situation; how’s that working out for them?
Your current job situation may have you feeling hopelessly trapped and thinking that the type of change needed is just too hard or even impossible. Since you are reading this, it is likely you have already decided you need to do something about your career, but how? Where do you start?
It may sound a bit trite, but consider the old saying:
“How do you eat an elephant? A bite at a time.”
How does a project manager build a 100-story skyscraper? With a plan. Step by step. Breaking down a huge, seemingly impossible task into smaller and manageable pieces makes the challenge become possible. Notice I didn’t say it would be easy, I said it would become possible.
Here’s something else you need to know, a fact of life which may be hard for some to accept:
In the end, nobody really cares about or is responsible for your career except you.
Sure, others can help, offer support, mentor, or whatever, but in the end, it is YOU that has to do the heavy lifting. Don’t try and put the blame for being stuck in your current job situation on someone or something else: your crappy boss or employer, the lousy high school you attended, poor teachers, your parents, bad breaks, or whatever. Yes, it may be true some of those factors contributed to your current situation; however, while you can’t change the past, you CAN change the future. Don’t let yesterday’s old baggage become an excuse for inaction today, or for causing you to remain stuck in a bad place in life. Even if someone or something else really did help throw you into a hole, you’re the one who now has to find a way to climb out. Accept that fact and move on.
Also, before you think, “Sure, this is all easy for you to say, you’re not in my situation,” please don’t make assumptions about me. I was certainly not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, either. When I was 14 years old, my mother became widowed; this was at a time when women had fewer opportunities in the workplace, and although she was working, my three younger siblings and I were hardly well off. I pursued both my career and educational goals later than most of my friends, all while working full-time, with a family. I don’t share this with you because I’m looking for sympathy or a pat on the back; the point is that while I’m sure the details and circumstances of your life and mine are different, I know first-hand that the road ahead for your career goals involves plenty of hard work and sacrifice.
But – I did it – and I am confident you can too; if you really want to, that is.
Consider the following three-step approach:
- First, make a conscious decision and absolutely solid commitment that – starting today – you ARE going to take charge of your career situation and make the necessary changes – whatever it takes. Unless you make this decision – and really mean it – don’t even bother trying to move on to steps two and three.
- Make a plan to systematically get to where you need to be; break down the big challenge ahead into smaller tasks which are manageable. You will find that achieving these smaller goals along the way will motivate you to keep on going! Trust me, you will both want and need that extra motivation. We have an Individual Development Plan (IDP) available on this website which you may find helpful as a guide; a downloadable PDF version of an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is available by clicking here.
- Once you have created your plan, execute it. For the time being, carrying out your plan must become your new focus; avoid distractions in your life which do not contribute to the plan or which might create difficulties. The reality is, hard as it may be, you are going to have to put some other things on hold.
Career Lantern is intended to shed light on career-related topics to help you along the way.
Are you ready to start? If not today, when?
Featured image courtesy of Gabihil – flickr