Are You Too Busy to Grow Your Career?

Nearly everyone wants to grow their career but very few proactively plan for it. I’ve been inspired to write this post because I work with a lot of emerging leaders who seem to be too busy to grow their careers. Now, they’re not sitting around doing nothing. They are working very hard, and they are great producers for their companies. But sometimes, when these individuals stop to look up from the rush of their day-to-day, they question where their career is going.

Let’s keep it simple. There are basically two kinds of growth needs for every career.

1)   Skill sets needed for the job. This is about being competent at your trade.

2)   Leadership skills needed for growth beyond an individual producer. This involves talents like forming relationships, coaching, teamwork, and the ability to bring out the best in others.

These two career-advancing needs are extremely different. One is focused on making you better (knowledge and competence) and the other is about making others better (leadership skills).

Here are a few tips to help get you on track to intentionally growing your career.

Have the desire.

This is a must. If you don’t have the desire to improve yourself or the impact you have on your colleagues or your employer, then there’s no need to read any further. Your desire and passion for improvement can’t come from your boss or a friend; it must come from within you.

Have vision.

Vision is about looking toward the future. Where do you want to see yourself professionally 10 years down the road? What lasting impact do you want to make inside your company or in your profession? Don’t be embarrassed or overly humble to see yourself making huge impact!

Create landmarks.

Be proactive and make a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. Include both competence skill sets and leadership development goals. Every year my husband and I would make goals for our careers as well as for our family. It is such a fun process, and we held each other accountable by encouraging and challenging one another. Find two mentors in your life, one that will teach you the competence skill sets and one that will pour into your leadership growth.

Be open for change.

Career development requires some measure of risk because it usually involves change. Within every season of my career growth I have had to forge through change. Change in learning new skills, change in leaders, change in companies, change in residences, change in teams and even change in professions… twice! You don’t have to move or change companies or professions for your career to grow, but you will most likely experience change, so be open to it.

Don’t keep secrets.

Tell your boss where you would like to grow your career and ask him or her for advice on what they think it will take for you to ready yourself.

Beware the Career Ladder Ogre.

While it’s important to have a proactive plan to grow your career, you never want to send the message that your growth is more important than your performance while working in your current position. Nothing is worse than a career ladder hungry ogre! These people tend to make decisions that are pro-career, not pro-team or pro-company.

Be patient!

Careers are a result of a lot of unique items that come together throughout your life: competence, leadership, experience, humility, positive attitude and hard work. All of these mature over time, so keep marinating all of your experiences.

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