Who’s in charge?
Once upon a time I asked a client what she wanted in her career. She said, “Why are you asking me?”
We laughed. Because wouldn’t it be great if someone else answered for us?
What we want in our career can be dizzying.
Sadly, what takes most of our attention is what we have to do on a daily basis.
That is why it is easier for me to do the laundry than develop my marketing plan.
What I do know is I want to live a purpose-driven life, one that is in alignment with what is important to me, where I can use my strengths in contributing to others and where I feel like I am firing on all cylinders.
That kind of life/work doesn’t fall on your lap.
It is deliberate.
The secret is to be proactive.
Mainly because nobody else is going to do it for you.
Proactive behaviour is “anticipatory, change-oriented, and self-initiated behaviour in situations, rather than just reacting.”
It is all about self responsibility.
I have been thinking about time lately. It is hard not to when you are studying astronomy. Even though the distance to the stars is such massive proportions that is difficult for my head to wrap around, I understand that each one of those stars out there is going to come to an end. A supernovae. A white dwarf.
Our sun has 5 billion years left. Phew!
Like everything thing in our universe, there is a shelf life.
As morbid as this sounds, knowing your own mortality is critical to your career success. If life went on and on, it would be easy to stay on your couch watching Netflix. (It wouldn’t be that difficult - there is an eternity of episodes on popular series.)
Change is our stimulus.
Unlike other products of nature, humans have the amazing ability to create the change that we want. To me it seems a shame to waste that bonus.
When you are not being proactive in your career, here’s how I see it playing out:
1. You climb the wrong career ladder.
People who do well at their job are promoted to the next rung. Someone who is great at computer sales is promoted to a manager.
Except they may not be particularly good with being in charge of other people. Or they are doing tasks which leave them cold.
The increase in salary is alluring.
But there are some opportunities you should take and some you should not.
2. You stay in a job where only some of your talent is being used.
Just enough that you don’t hand in your resignation. One day in a quiet moment, this question may cross your mind – “Am I living up to my potential?”
3. You wait for retirement.
Retirement may not seem that far off. In this scenario, you may be spending daytime dreaming about all the things you are going to do when you are done with your J-O-B.
4. You lose motivation.
If you are in an environment where there are others who feel trapped in their jobs, this becomes the new normal. Countdown to the weekend. Hump day. The jokes: “If I died and went straight to hell, it would take me a week to realize I wasn’t at work anymore.”
(If you want to see some entertaining jokes on hating your job, search for I hate my job and then look at images.)
The energy required to move yourself out of that stuck place feels too enormous to even know where to begin.
5. You start experiencing other issues.
Like health problems. Or unhealthy behaviours.
Because not all parts of us agree with the idea that it is okay to stay in work that doesn’t fit for us.
So how do you become proactive at work?
For me, this is a process I could learn more about. A definite work in progress. As a solopreneur, there is so much to learn. Some parts of the business I do well. And some parts where I suck.
What I have noticed is there is a payoff when I am proactive. It always moves me forward.
Wondering about how you can be proactive about your work? Here’s some thoughts:
1. Being proactive means looking at the big picture.
If you are unhappy with the work you are doing, what exactly is it that isn’t working for you?
Do you have a vision of where you would like to be?
Do you know how you can contribute the most?
Being proactive means getting a handle on what is working and what is not.
2. Being proactive means making a plan.
Even if you don’t have the answers.
A plan could mean making room in your life on how to be proactive. It could be developing a vision of your work life. If you don’t have a vision, it is hard to know where you are going.
3. Being proactive means taking some action.
Even if it is figuring out the problem. Here is an article on how to solve problems.
Are you being proactive? What are some ideas that you have used to get you moving in the right direction?
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