Time and again, as the years fly by, we find ourselves seeking to improve either our skills or our habits so that we might increase our chances of professional success. We buy new books, we attend shiny seminars; our hunger for success drives us to such extremes that we go through the same motions every year. It is because of this intense frenzy to improve that we forget the most essential fact in this whole scenario: with just a tiny bit of guidance, the ability to improve and succeed lies within our own control.
With this new year upon us, and working with the same drive and enthusiasm that we use every day to elevate your career, let’s look at the factors that will ensure positive, and sustainable, change for 2017.
It all starts with self awareness. Taking an assessment like Strengthfinders or Emergenetics will help you identify the types of activities that either give you energy or drain your energy . The insight you gain with this information will be crucial in understanding where your strengths lie so that you can capitalize on them and shine. Sure, you may be able to do any given job. Who knows, you might even be able to master it. However, the real payoff comes when you discover your underlying strengths (ones that you might not even know existed) and pursue them with the same amount of gusto that you otherwise might have wasted on a job that is draining the life out of you.
What have people said to you about your work or your habits? What have you heard them say that you are good at? Better yet, what have you hear them say that you are not good at? The more honest the feedback, the better. Because we are not the best at analyzing ourselves in these types of circumstances, gathering this type of information will be a tremendous help. Make sure to nurture a thick skin though, because believe it or not, none of us are good at everything. In American culture, we have heard time and again that we can do anything. Well no, sorry to say, the truth is that you cannot do anything. Just recognizing that can be liberating and empowering.
With your personal values clear in your mind, ask the types of questions that will help you understand what is genuinely at your core and what it is that you truly seek. Do you want to be in a small organization or a large organization? Do you want to be in a private, public, or non-profit setting? Does the purpose of the organization align with your purpose? What kind of people and team do you want to work with? Think about what it is that you are really looking for. For example, if you want a job with adventure and you get a job requiring you to be behind a desk all day, it can be extremely unfulfilling. Of course, you can seek adventure in other parts of your life, but think about it: a day job is 10 hours a day. If you can find something that gives you energy, rather than drains it, that is the perfect start for positive and sustainable change.
Prepare for Challenges
If you are not careful, your career controls you. If you get on a path where you are getting promotions but being moved around and getting positioned where you are losing control of the important things around you, you are now wearing the golden handcuffs. You have a great job, a title and money, but you feel miserable. You’ve let your career control you instead of you controlling your career. If you are going to make a career change, this is your opportunity to slow down, answer these questions and figure out what you really want.
Sustainable change is difficult, there’s no question. We all face daily battles that seem to put us back five steps after we’ve fought tooth and nail for the last four . It is for this very reason that, before we set out into the unknown, we need to first do our homework and figure out what really makes us tick. Go take that assessment, talk to that trusted friend, ask yourself those important questions and, most importantly, prepare for what might set you back. With each step you take and question you ask, you are gathering the building blocks for a solid foundation for change. Finally, be confident that you will ultimately make the right decisions that will keep paying you back day after day. You owe it to yourself.