Maybe it seems like you just started your career yesterday; I sure feel that way at times. Perhaps you had visions of living and working in a specific city… Or rising through the ranks to a senior position with the ability to make a real impact day-to-day… Or launching a business with a focus on your own products or services. You might have imagined hitting a specific annual income or dreamed of developing a expertise in a particular area.
So. Are you where you thought you’d be when it comes to your work? If ‘yes’, which achievements are most indicative of the success you’d hoped for? If ‘no’, what are the most critical gaps that you’d like to fill?
For better or for worse, human nature often compels us to compare ourselves to others. Frankly, I don’t believe that any good comes from such endeavors; one of my favorite quotes (author unknown) is ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. Either way we ultimately lose. We can feel like we’ve fallen short (or risen above) when we look at what other people do or possess.
What do you want more than anything when it comes to your job? Do you want to do different work? Take on additional responsibility? Be recognized for your contributions? Enjoy more connection with colleagues? If deep down you’re craving a future that differs from your reality, consider these three tips to drive change:
1) Redefine Success: Think carefully about how you characterize success on your own terms. Sometimes our goals are shaped by what others want for us instead of what we truly desire for ourselves. We can also be easily influenced by what we see on social media and television. Reflect and identify the objectives that best connect with your fundamental, intrinsic motivation. If you thought that life would be different at this point, what shifts would be the most powerful in terms of moving you forward (and why)?
2) Look Inward: Be honest with yourself about your quest for whatever you think is missing. Is your ego bruised because of what others may think of your current situation? Do you see yourself as being less deserving or worthy of the success you want? Or do you feel guilty about wanting more, as if it is a negation of the gratitude you have for everything that’s going well?
3) Take Action: Hope isn’t ultimately a strategy. As the saying goes, “don’t talk about it, be about it”. If you want things to be different, there is almost always a practical path that you can implement to gain momentum. We also have to take control of our destiny by asking for what we want. What could you do starting tomorrow – no scratch that, starting today – to move towards your goals? Who in your network can help? Which skills and experiences can you leverage as transferrable knowledge in support of your journey? And what are you hesitant about? What holds you back from doing the all the things?
We absolutely have the ability to transform the future. Make a choice to move on from disappointment if that’s where you find yourself. You don’t have to languish in your feelings, for real. We can create our own opportunities to move towards the life we want.
Let’s marry dreaming with doing to create the change we seek at work and beyond.