At some point in every career, we reach a point where we are good at what we do, and it doesn’t really challenge us anymore. And, at different points in your career, you may be good at certain things and still learning others.
A lot of people fall into the trap of not actively managing this process. It is important to be conscientious of where you have mastered your role and where you still have room to grow.
Understanding where you are in your overall career growth will help you plan a way forward. You can start by understanding what Todd Henry calls the aspiration gap.
Aspiration Gap: The difference between the work that you want to create and the work that you are capable of creating at this moment.
Look for an area where, if you learned a new skill, you could take your career to the next level. This will help you focus in on objectives that make sense for your career at your particular point in your career.
By thinking about where your skills, interests, and strengths can be improved to take your career to the next level, you are giving your career its own unique flavor. Nobody else is going to do your job exactly the same way you do.
Take stock of your current job and where you want to be. What can you do to move yourself toward your goal?
Our worksheet for this week contains a list of questions to help you think through this. If you’d like to receive, it, sign up for our newsletter.
It is a natural cycle to want to improve yourself. The question is—when do you reach the point where you’ve stopped learning and you need to become a freshman again?
When you are an expert—you don’t get a day off.
When you are a freshman:
· You can ask questions that an expert wouldn’t ask for fear of looking stupid
· You can take risks that would look like career suicide for an expert
· You can try things and not worry about failure— because for a freshman, it is about learning
· Use the phrase “I’m no expert here...”
· Use the phrase “Let’s try this and see if it works...”
For your current job or area of expertise:
How can you look at it with a fresh set of eyes?
What experiment can you do to see if it improves your job?
Outside of your current job:
What is something you don’t know much about that you could learn more about?
Being out of balance causes a situation where you are over-emphasizing the pros and cons of one behavior and under-emphasizing the pros and cons of another behavior.
Analytical vs. Intuitive
If you are too reliant on analysis to make decision, you can get into a state of paralysis where you don’t make decisions or move forward because you will always want more data before making a decision.
If you are too reliant on your gut to make decisions, you might make quick decisions without any facts and find that you fail more often than necessary.
Being analytical isn’t bad and being intuitive isn’t bad—as long as you have balance. The important thing is to understand what your tendency is and to learn techniques to help you balance your tendency. If you are over-analytical, learn to recognize when you’ve gotten to a point of paralysis and force yourself to make a decision. If you tend to go with your gut, set some parameters about a minimum amount of analysis that you’ll accept for yourself before making a decision.
How balanced are you? Rate yourself along these spectrums. Are there any that you need to become more balanced in?
Goals are a unique combination of:
Tactics—what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
Aspiration— what can I accomplish if I put my mind to it?
Faith— I believe that I can accomplish this goal.
Commitment - I’m going to dedicate part of my resources to making this goal happen.
Setting goals require an ability to balance the need to be realistic while also reaching for something you aren’t quite sure how to get to – something that isn’t within your current comfort zone.
Then, once you’ve set that goal – you need to stop focusing on it. Focusing on the goal – on the end state will not propel you from here to there. Instead, you need to start to identify the steps that you are going to take to get you there. What is the next step you can take to move you toward your goal?
There are also some tools that you can use to help you keep on track:
The premise of this episode is that we are all interviewing for our job every day. The problem is that most of us don’t think about that after we get through the honeymoon period. We start off a new job and we are on our best behavior, but over time, we get comfortable in our role and don’t give much thought to the fact that every day counts.
My philosophy is that every day is an interview. This may sound like a pessimistic viewpoint, but it isn’t. I’m not coming at it from a victim’s point of view. I’m coming at it from the take-your-fate-into-your-own-hands point of view. I’m doing what is within my control to ensure that, if I lose my job, I have set myself up to be as successful as possible finding the next job.
My philosophy is made up of 4 parts:
Interviewing for my current job – adding value and establishing relationships across my company so that, when management is deciding about which people to cut, my name shows up at the bottom of the list.
Interviewing for my next job – Every person that you work with at your current job is likely to either move to a new job at another company or move to a new job within your company at some point. You want to make the kind of impression on them that, when they do make the move, they recommend you. That kind of impression happens day-by-day, week-by-week.
Keep your resume up to date – Again, if you lose your job unexpectedly, you are probably not going to be in the best frame of mind. Putting together a resume in that frame of mind is not ideal. It is also difficult to remember all of the things that you’ve accomplished that should be reflected on your resume when you haven’t updated it in a long time. Keep your resume up to date so that it is ready for you as soon as you need it.
For resources about how to do this effectively, check out these 2 episodes:
Episode 9 – Preparing for Your Annual Review
Episode 2 – Time Bound Activities
Network every day – Most jobs are found through acquaintances. By staying active with your network, you will be top of mind when someone knows about a job that needs to be filled, and they think you might be a good fit. If you get laid off unexpectedly, you don’t want to spend time warming up your network. Stay active on linked in. Make a practice of reaching out to people within your network regularly. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just say hi. You just want to remind the person that you are part of their network.
I teach people how to thrive at work. Let's connect on LinkedIn
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