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10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

10 Signs It’s Time To Really Think About Your Career

There’s nothing like the feeling of starting a job you love and going to work every day feeling excited and challenged. But what happens when a job that started out as a great step towards building a flourishing career takes a nose dive?

Suddenly, the song You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling becomes your new theme (not the cool Top Gun version covered by Maverick and Goose) and you feel unsure about your current career path.

When your job becomes just “a job,” a lot of things happen that you may not even realize. It can cause you to turn into a completely different person from the wide-eyed bushy tailed professional you were at the beginning of your career. You not only lose sight of your initial goals, but also jeopardize the future of your career without even knowing it.

Here are some warning signs that your job is ruining your career.

1. You are no longer excited about starting new projects.

Taking on new projects is a great way to learn and display leadership in your job. If you find that another project just means more work for you that’s not worth the kudus or mediocre salary, it may be a sign that you’ve withdrawn from your job.

Once you start losing interest in what you do, it will show and negatively impact your career.

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2. You are just going through the motions.

If wake up, go to work, drink coffee, answer emails, and go home sounds like your typical day, then there’s something missing: your active participation. Are you just getting through the day and can do your job with your eyes closed?

If the answer is “yes” then it’s time to reevaluate your job. A job where you just go through the motions without much thought is great if you’re a robot, but you’re not.

It’s important to have a job that challenges you daily and keeps your brain sharp or else you risk losing your ability to generate career-enhancing ideas that will help you grow.  

3. You are not making a competitive salary.

Staying in a dead-end job is not only bad for your career, but hurts your pockets too. Forbes contributor reporter Cameron Keng published an article regarding employees staying at the same company making 50% less than those who leave.

This means that you lose money over the course of your career the longer you stay at a job and receive the average 1.3% raise, if any. Sometimes the fear of being a “job hopper” makes the decision difficult.

But staying at the same job that doesn’t offer financial and professional growth puts you at a disadvantage and makes you less competitive in your industry.  

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4. You are doing the same thing that you’ve always done.

Your job should offer ongoing opportunities to be challenged. It’s hard to be considered a high-performer at work if you’re not challenged. Being comfortable will make you stagnant and not grow in your career.

Try to take on new tasks or see if there is a way to improve a current process. If you’re not learning new skills or taking on new roles, you risk being passed over for acknowledgement, raises, and promotions.  

5. You are always complaining.

Did you know that “grumpiness” is one of the side effects of being unhappy with your job? And that’s putting it in a nice way. You may not realize that you turned in to a different person, but your coworkers and friends do.

It’s normal to vent about work from time to time. But make sure your unhappiness with your job isn’t negatively affecting your business and personal relationships. Constantly complaining may deter others from wanting to work with you or refer you for a potential opportunity.

6. You are not on top of your industry.

When you have a flourishing career, it is more likely that you are current with new technology, standards, and principles because it’s an important part of doing your job effectively.

Look for opportunities to practice new things even if you have to do it outside of work. If your job doesn’t incorporate modern or new techniques in your field, you risk falling behind based on current industry standards.

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7. You are not using your best skills.

Your job should give you the opportunity to perform tasks that utilize and enhance your best skill set. For example, if you are a people person but work in front of a computer all day with minimal contact, it can be very unfulfilling.

There will always be some aspects of a job that you don’t like, but make sure they bring out the best of your skills, so that you can build an impressive list of career highlights in your role.

If not, you jeopardize your ability to build a strong portfolio of achievements based on showcasing your best qualities that make you unique.

8. You are making small mistakes with everyday tasks.

A tell-tale sign that you’re at your wits’ end with a job is making simple mistakes. Sure everybody makes mistakes, but if you’re frustrated you tend to make more. This could be because you hate tedious tasks and rather watch paint dry than to organize one more meeting or run one more report.

Although you may not put too much thought into it other than pure annoyance, these mistakes may negatively impact how your manager and colleagues view your ability to get the job done.  

9. You are fighting with your manager.

Your manager can make your job a breeze or a walk through hell. When your manager lacks good leadership skills, it can be a challenge to do your job right and be a great source of tension. Your manager is the one who gives directions and should guide you when help is needed.

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If you find that their lack of leadership leads to constant fighting, it could be a warning sign that your job performance will be questioned—whether rightfully so or not. Tension with your manager can impact your career when it comes to performance evaluations and recommendations.

10. You are doubting yourself.

The biggest impact of staying at the wrong job is that it eventually wears on your confidence. Over time you start questioning things about yourself that you would never question like saying the right thing or taking the right action.

It’s so easy to get caught up in a toxic situation whether it’s due to having a horrible manager, difficult coworkers, or just a dead-end job. This can affect your ability to effectively convey your personal brand in a way that will attract new opportunities.

When your job no longer lends to your growth and ability to feel good about yourself, it’s time to move on for the sake of your career.

Featured photo credit: confused man chooses road outdoor via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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