If you are waiting for the winds to change or passively accepting the unacceptable at your place of work, then you need to start taking control of your career!
I’ve been coaching for a long time now but there’s one client I’ll never forget. It was through working with her that I realised how many of us, especially women, don’t realise we can control our own careers. As I listened to her, I heard words like “waiting” and “time” and “appropriate”. I wanted to hear her say “planning” and “ready” and “chasing opportunity”. The conversation brought home to me how many of us sit and wait for our career to happen and don’t do anything to drive it.
Our career should not be something that happens to us. The days where people waited their turn for promotion are long gone. Today, if you want something, you need to go out and get it.
It worries me when I see people passively accepting what they are offered. They are letting someone else have control over their careers. What’s worse is that often this is how they live their lives.
I want you to know you are in charge of your life and that includes your career.
So, what did I do with my client?
You can make your own choices
First, I helped her realise she had power; power to make choices. She could choose when and how she wanted to manage and develop her career.
We started working on a career plan;
- where she wanted to go in her career,
- assessment of her current skills, knowledge and experience, and her readiness to move on from her comfort spot,
- personal and professional development she would need along the way and where to get it,
- and we identified specific roles she was interested in
Together we put this information into a plan with some specific goals to work towards along the way and ways to achieve them.
In many ways, this was the easiest part of the process. Challenging and changing the assumptions and behavioural patterns she’d built up over time was much more difficult.
You can change your mind
It’s funny, but there’s a real difference between accepting you have power over your career choices, and accepting you have the power to act on them.
One’s conceptual and the other is practical, I guess. Accepting the concept doesn’t take us out of the comfort zone as dramatically as having to change our behaviour does.
My client struggled. While she was confident in her abilities, she wasn’t used to speaking up and asking for what she wanted. But that’s what you need to do if you want to get ahead.
Remember, it’s up to you to let your manager know when you’re ready to take on a new challenge and when you feel ready to take the next step. You are the only one who can change their perception of you and your future.
To help her get started we worked out some specific behaviours she had to learn
Following is an outline on these specific behaviours and where I began in helping to take control of her career:
- ask to be part of new projects and challenges when they come up (instead of waiting to be selected)
- talk with her manager about her career goals and seek specific feedback on areas (and opportunities) for improvement
- take a chance and apply for opportunities without holding herself back
- ask for recognition of a job well done
Was it easy for her to change these behaviours? No. They’d been embedded for a long time. But she had the advantage of working with a coach who supported and encouraged her and kept her accountable for results.
If you’re not working with a coach, you can still follow my process to start taking back control of your career too.
As the only person who knows where you’re going and when you want to get there, it is YOU who has to drive your career. Don’t leave your career in the hands of someone who doesn’t know you or doesn’t care.
If you could do with a helpful hand or feel like reaching out to a bunch of likeminded women to bounce ideas off, then check in with our team of caring mentors right here Empowering Ambitious Women. Whether lost in transit or just at a crossroad right now, we can provide the boost you need to get you through. Just reach out and say hello.