If You’re Not Where You Thought You’d Be at This Time in Your Career…
If you’re not where you thought you’d be in your career at this moment, then you need to ask yourself some tough questions and decide for yourself what you need to change in order to move closer to where you want to be.
The other day over lunch, a colleague of mine asked me what steps I took to get to where I am in my career. At first I was a little puzzled by the question coming from him. William has always given me the impression of being a “go for it” type of guy. When I asked him what he meant by the question, he told me that he wasn’t where he thought he would be at this point in his career and wanted to know what I did in order to get to where I was in mine. This was really an interesting question to me coming from him. Here we were, 10 years after having originally met at a previous organization where we both worked at he was an Analyst (the role he was in when we originally met) and I was now a Senior Director.
When we met, he was in process of completing his MBA and I was in process of applying to an MBA program. He eventually went on to finish his MBA two years before I completed mine.
This scenario made me quickly look at the comparison between people who are where they thought they’d be at this point in their career and those that weren’t. After some further conversation on the subject with William, some reasons why he was where he was and why I was where I am began to come to the surface:
Having a Vision of Where You Want to Be
Having a vision of where you want to be is by no doubt extremely important. Without it, a person is basically playing Russian roulette with their life’s journey. What is a Vision? Fundamentally for a company or organization, it shows its desired or intended future state in terms of its objective and/or strategic direction. Vision is a long term view, sometimes describing how the organization would like the world in which it operates to be. For a person, when it comes to their career, it is the view of where they want to be in life. There is a strong truth to the saying:
“Aim for the Moon, ‘cause even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”
When it came to the concept of vision, William appeared to not have an answer to that question when I asked him about his vision. My vision for me has always been crystal clear for me. It’s ok to adjust it a little every now and then in order to make it clearer, but don’t lower your expectation within your vision or else you’ll fall into the life trap of conformity.
Proactive vs. Reactive
It’s been my experience that when a person is more proactive, they have a greater chance of getting what they desire out of life than a person who chooses to be more reactive. Going back to the chat with William, I mentioned that the company he worked at was known for having a large amount of resources available online so it happens. People that work there could learn or enhance key skills that would help them grow in their career but searching online on the company’s internal online network. I even gave an example of someone who found, and was in the process of going through, a management certification program online at the company. William’s initial comment was more of clarification question, “You mean this is available to all employees there, including me?” I said yes, via the company’s intranet (internal internet system). But what was his comment to that? It was, “You mean you have to go out there and find it yourself!?!” I sat there for a moment, a little stunned in all honesty, and then said yes. His next comment was even more of a stunner for me coming from someone whom I had known as a go-getter type of guy. “You mean no one shows you where these things are online, they just expect us to find this ourselves!?!” I had told them there are links to this information on the first page of the company’s employee at which his reaction was that that’s not enough.
I may have been thinking a little too critical of him at this moment, but our other colleague at the table with us had a look on his face when he looked at him and then me that I found out later was a look of “I can’t believe William is honestly having a problem with accepting that you have to go and look for ways to develop yourself without expecting someone to always be holding you hand!” These were my thoughts exactly.
What (constructive) advice would you give to William if you were me?