Are You Managing Your Career or is It Managing You?

In this day and age of careers, a great question to ask yourself is: “Are you managing your career or is it managing you?” Often, it seems that most people today (in history?) scramble and find a job; after all, isn’t that what we’re told? Making money is the goal in order to make our way in the world, which entails work.

A question for you – were you ever taught in school of what a career entails and how to go about deciding what it is that you wanted to do for a good portion of your life? Personally, no. I don’t recall one teacher who had us research careers and then how to go about finding the path that would lead me to finding fulfilling work. Now I had made a decision on a path but, as life circumstances get in the way, the college I was going to attend had teachers who decided that they wanted more money and went on strike. This changed my whole path.

I found it was hit and miss in courses I took, not knowing what career I wanted to be in. So, from pushing by my mother and a desire to go away, I transferred to an out-of-state university and a new college path. Looking back, I only knew how exciting an advisor I had made this new major sound but, unfortunately for me, it never felt aligned with, even though I had successes in it. Until I started my own business.

My story is not uncommon; my office is near a major university so I get students who come in struggling with classes or feeling unhappy with their current state. Many chose their major due to a parental influence, or it sounded good (or friends who were going to pursue the same degree) but they now find themselves unfocused, having difficulty waking up to go to class and, sometimes, failing. I feel so sad for those who find themselves in this state who are about ready to graduate.

Sadder yet is that these stories are common among those already in the workplace, who find themselves in a job they don’t like or can’ figure out how to navigate to be successful. They often don’t like the work they do, finding it routine or boring; others want to move into a new role or up the ladder but feel there are no opportunities to do so; while another group can’t stand the people they work with or the overall culture of their department (or organization).

These examples are a big part of why our current engagement level continues to stay around 33% (Gallop, September 2017). People feel frustrated with their work, with their boss, with coworkers, with the time they have to spend in work, with not feeling they are paid enough, and not having enough time for themselves and their family. Essentially, they are allowing their career to manage them and their life.

Is it possible for one to manage their career? I emphatically say YES! There are many components that go into this but, once started, self-management becomes easier. Here are some components to consider:

  • Self-assessment/awareness: this entail fully owning your skills, abilities, aptitudes, values, beliefs, expectations, interests, to name a few. This helps you to know what you have to offer and your motivation to best manage how your career path goes
  • Awareness of your preferred work environment – not everyone aligns with how things are run in a business, no matter the size. Knowing the type of culture, i.e. the environment, values, and the way things are run, will lead to having more satisfaction.  Knowing yourself and how you act in situations is important to finding them; as an example, I thrive in busier and more active environments, where I can move around and interact with others so an organization that prohibits this type of movement will not work for me – this I know for sure
  • Goal setting is a critical component – where do you want to go in your career? Is it to be a CEO or VP, or other position? Perhaps it’s an industry you want to work in? Having that end-goal in front of you will lead you to investigate how you will go about getting there
  • Good actionable steps – these are the daily actions you will take as you work on the identified goals. This can include: working on a particular skill to get better at it, raising your hand to take on more challenging work so you get noticed for upward mobility, networking internally to get to know those who can move you up; it also can include ensuring your resume is up to date, looking for those internal opportunities, and working on your personal development.
  • Having a clear plan to follow – this means writing all of these steps down, so you can refer back to them frequently. I’ll tell you a story of a young, late twenty-something, gentleman who I was helping with his interviewing skills; he was going after a very high-level position with a retail giant. I was amazed at how far he was in his career at such a young age. He said that he started working for this company when he was 18 but knew that he wanted to move up every two years; he learned everything he could about the job he was doing in the first year, and then, in the second, he learned all he could about the position he was going for – he reached all his goals (and did get the position he was going for). He had a clear plan and followed  it.

Managing your career is not only empowering but your responsibility. Having control over your work-life will give you more control over you life overall; you will feel more empowered, more focused, and more motivated to go after what you say you want. I think identifying resources you may need is another part of the plan, i.e. a mentor, hiring a coach, as relying on others isn’t a bad thing in some situations. Don’t allow your career to manage you – take back control and get in charge of your career; you will be glad you did.

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! http://www.cyscoaching.com or barbara@cyscoaching.com