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?
We’ve all had a failure at work. It is inevitable, so the most productive thing you can do is to have a set of tools to draw from when you are faced with the fall-out, which we will outline here:
Look at the failure as a learning opportunity
Although it doesn’t take the failure away, if you can reframe it in your mind, you can more easily move past it.
What did you learn from this failure that you can benefit from in the future?
Look at what behaviors DID succeed
Identifying what behaviors worked within the failure can help point you to areas of strength.
Understanding the areas where you are strong will help reinforce those behaviors in the future.
Don’t feel like you have to be good at everything
Failure may be an indication that you need to move on to something else. Is this area something you really need to succeed at?
Put the failure into perspective
Think about failures from the past. With hindsight, are they as bad as you thought they were at the time?
Rank the failure from 0 to 100 where 100 is nuclear holocaust.
Remember that other people are caught up in their own lives
Worrying about what others think about your failure is usually a waste of time because other people probably don’t even notice what you’ve done.
Those that do are likely close to you. In that case, project the failure onto them. What you your reaction be if they had been the one who failed?
What can you do to create a positive outcome?
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:
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