What Story does your Career Arc Tell?

One of my favorite leaders always discussed the career arc when presenting potential candidates to the team. He wanted to know that they still wanted more; even if it was not moving to the next position or level in their career, they needed to want to achieve more, be more and give more. If they had stalled out and lost their curiosity, they were not getting the job.

So, where are you in your career arc? Have you reached the goals you set out for yourself? If you are living your dream, what is next? Many hit the goals they set out to achieve but then get lost in day-to-day work and wake up unsatisfied or exhausted.  Just a thought, even if you currently believe there is not another title ahead of you - there is always room to grow. When faced with success, why do we become complacent to our own limiting beliefs?  What can you do to make sure you aren't already sliding down the back end of the slope?

But wait -before investing more time in work, step back and take inventory of your personal life. Excitement at home brings excitement and happiness to work. Are you giving and getting everything personally that you desire? If the answer is no, make this your priority. It would be horrible to come to the end of a long successful career and realize you gave them everything and did not experience your life outside of work. 

All good, personally? Then consider pursuing one or more of these ideas to stay invigorated and excited in your job, and keep pushing that career arc:

  • Find something that takes you outside of your comfort zone and try it.
  • Follow an interest to develop a new skill, maybe take a class, even if you don't see how it will help you at work today.
  • Look at the elephant in the room, the problem nobody wants to tackle (or talk about), take it on, and bring people with you for the team win.
  • Look at another position inside of your company that would give you a new challenge. Often moving departments brings a new way to look at things and builds great cross-functional collaboration.
  • Invest in the success of others. Become an official mentor for someone and look for ways to help those coming behind you be successful.

Still not feeling it? Consider a move. Tenure is a beautiful thing, but only if you are happy. Don't stay because it is comfortable, easy, or because you are afraid of what is out there. If you receive my weekly emails, I often discuss my five key beliefs of having a job you love. One of these beliefs is that if you are great at one job, you can be great at another job. Don't stay because you are afraid of the outside world.

Finally, look around. What are others saying about you? Your executive team is discussing this exact topic during succession planning. Do others believe you have the passion to keep going? If not, find something to reinvigorate your passions. Never become the one just hanging on for retirement. It will make the journey twice as long, or they may decide to cut your journey short because there is someone behind you with more fire in their belly.

I believe everyone should have a job they love.  But it is work, and that is why they pay you. But when you have those moments where you say, "I would do this for free," then you are in the right place. I hope no matter where you are in your career, you know those jobs are out there, and it is about finding your passions, what you enjoy doing, and where you can feel good about contributing. Your responsibility is to create forward momentum to keep it meaningful for you.

A final thought for those who took the road less traveled.

If you did not follow the traditional career path,  you should not be afraid to explain why your career arc looks different. A career pivot, raising kids, taking care of elderly parents, trying something new, or even taking a break is all worthy of an explanation. Don't let someone assume they know why your arc looks different than your peers. Show up being able to clearly articulate your story. It is important for them to understand why. Be confident in your choices. We all do the best we can at the moment. A good leader will understand.



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