The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. – Alice Walker
No matter where you are in your career, no matter what your title may be, everyone has the power to make changes, to suggest improvements, or to do something significant for their organization. Most often the issue is not if you have the power, but whether or not you are willing to use it. Don’t be afraid to have a voice, to have an opinion, and to bring your expertise to the table. However, don’t forget to spend just as much or more time learning and listening still.
Over the course of our professional lives, there will be times when we wish to slow down – perhaps when we are raising a family, for example. Often, we are inclined to believe that we must completely stop what we are doing to do this, but when we are ready to accelerate our careers again, it can be daunting. Instead of stopping, find ways to slow down. Work with your manager to set a more flexible schedule that meets your needs, and then when you are ready to hit the gas, you won’t be starting all over again.
Everything we do is building up to something greater. Careers are a constant progression, where what we do today morphs into what we do tomorrow. Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. That doesn’t mean you have to have a specific position in mind, but an idea of how you want to grow and what will help you to do that. Of course, skill development is critical to that, but so is our work product – what we deliver on a day to day basis that proves we are ready for more. So, in your quest for tomorrow, don’t forget about today.
Don’t assume everyone knows about you or your accomplishments. Getting ahead often requires making those things more apparent. However, I say “toot” your horn, not “blow” it for a reason. No one likes a braggart. Be strategic about your self-promotion. For example, someone mentions they are working on a new project that requires XYZ skill; it’s the perfect time to mention your experience with that and offer to help. After all, the best way for people to learn about you and what you’re good at is to show them.
We all get into a “head’s down” mode now and then – the mode where you are so focused on a particular goal that all else takes a backseat while you’re accomplishing it. However, once you resurface, it’s important to reconnect. Take time to catch up on missed calls and emails, but more importantly, make time for people. Check in with your network, not just digitally, but face to face as well. Taking this step back to reconnect with people and the bigger picture is a critical part of progressing forward.
How do you reconnect after an especially busy, hyper-focused time? Share in the comment section below!
Just like snow at the end of March, our professional lives and decisions can result in unexpected outcomes. You can’t predict them all, you certainly can’t prevent them all, but you can be prepared.
When making decisions, think about all the potential results, even the ones that shouldn’t happen or the ones you wish wouldn’t happen (ehem, 20 degrees in spring!); then make contingency plans in case they do come to fruition. It’s always a smart choice to be prepared for the worst possible outcome, no matter how seemingly unlikely – though you do want to weigh the cost of this preparation vs. the probability of it happening.
So before you put your winter boots away for good, make sure that spring is actually here to stay.
“Why is that?”
“What does that mean?”
“Is that everything we can do?”
Have you ever been in a meeting and thought one of the questions above? Don’t keep your questions to yourself, ask them. Either people have already thought through these questions and there is an answer waiting or they haven’t and it needs to be discussed. So don’t leave a meeting with questions lingering; dig deeper, and you’ll be able to accomplish that much more.