What has been your biggest career mistake?
I asked this question on Instagram yesterday and received about 50 responses. Almost 40 of the responses were almost identical!
“I stayed at a job that I hate out of fear of change.”
“I feel stuck at my job, there are no opportunities for growth”
“I’ve been in the same role for 6 years and don’t have the experience to apply for the job that I want”
If this sounds like you, YOU. NEED. TO. GET. FIRED.
By fired, I mean actually being fired (ouch, I know…but, it happens), laid off, quitting or any other verb (aka ACTION) that requires you to stop being complacent and take control of your career!
If you get fired, three things will happen:
YOUR SURVIVAL INSTINCTS WILL KICK IN
I remember thinking that I was doing what I had to do by staying at a job far too long because it paid well, and at the time, was my most senior position to date.
I woke up every morning with a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach. During my drive to work, I dreaded every mile that brought me closer to my daily hell. I experienced headaches, dry mouth, anxiety, insomnia (I stayed up pre-dreading the next day at work) and I was barely eating. My friends and family noticed the changes and were constantly telling me to quit.
“Girl, if you drop dead today, they will replace you.”
“Your mental and physical well being isn’t worth however much they are paying you”.
Yea, yea that sounds nice and I get it. However, as a single mom with two children, I couldn’t justify quitting my job because I didn’t like it. This particular role was an 18 month contract for which I applied and interviewed to convert to full time. Why did I apply to become permanent at a job that I absolutely hated? I did it for the same reason that you stay at a job that you constantly complain about, feel stuck in and dread going to year after year…there’s nothing forcing you to take action.
Wasn’t your New Year’s Resolution in 2015 to get a new job? Weren’t you supposed to go back to school last year? Is your application for a certification program saved but not yet completed? (slowly raises hand and looks around for others…)
My contract ended (read: FIRED) and I found myself without a job. My survival instincts kicked in! I spent more time on LinkedIn than Instagram, I didn’t miss an update on Indeed.com and I had 5 versions of my resume locked and loaded! I could have done these things while I was employed, but it’s easy to become complacent when you have a job, even if it’s one that you hate.
My point here is to act like you’ve been fired. Everyday, you should work on your professional development. Ask a colleague to review your resume, find a mentor, attend local networking events and conferences, enroll in a class, read an article…just do something!
YOU WILL GET OUT OF YOUR (DIS)COMFORT ZONE
There’s nothing to it but to do it, right? Not necessarily. Leaving a job can be scary especially if it’s become your comfort zone. However, action builds confidence and confident people take action. The act of getting a new job will inspire you to continue to grow your career. Your next job doesn’t have to be your dream job or end goal. Often, we stay at jobs that we hate and fantasize about what our next role will be. Simmer down, let’s take it one step at a time. You will be waiting forever if you think you’re going from an analyst to the C-suite or from thinking about starting a consulting business to #10 on the Forbes list with thousands of clients overnight. You gotta crawl before you walk. Take baby steps. Hell, I don’t care if you two-step in the name of love, just take a step!
Trust me, after going through the selection process, exercising your interviewing muscles and being stimulated by learning something new, you will find yourself with a new confidence that will drive you to take action toward achieving your career goals.
YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF
I’ve always struggled with figuring out how to use my passions to fulfill my purpose. For me, it didn’t come as an epiphany and suddenly, I knew why I was put on this earth. It came over time through life experiences You don’t have to figure it out all at once. Learn something from every experience.
My experience at a job that I hated taught me that I don’t care about money as much as I thought that I did. I used to think that I could deal with almost anything at work for the right salary. After being put in that situation, I realized that I am wiling to take a role with less pay to protect my physical and emotional well being.
I used to aspire to be in a senior leadership role. Now, I’ve discovered that I prefer being an individual contributor. Success isn’t defined by job titles or salary, but by personal satisfaction. I am able to bring my best self to work and produce quality learning solutions when I’m not responsible for other people, budgets, etc.
Maybe you’ve learned that you prefer to work in a face paced environment, that you are more productive when you are given the freedom to work from home or that traveling for work isn’t actually as glamourous as it looks on social media. Whatever you’ve learned about yourself through a work experience, use that to guide your career journey…wherever the next stop may be.
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Until next time…