Often there is a rush to reach that next promotion, that next great opportunity to propel your career to the next level. It’s an unbiquitous modern challenge, irrespective of industry or career field. And one can hardly blame the individual for leaping at chances to rocket along their career path. After all, in most organizations and under nearly all human resource structures, more direct reports, more responsibility, and more influence translate to one thing…..more pay and benefits.
Now, I’m not cautioning those who leap at such chances (I could, but I’m not). Good for you. Grab that low-hanging fruit where you find it. In our modern economy, one can hardly be blamed for looking out for your best interests.
For even the brightest stars, however, there will be times of frustrating stagnation. There will be occassions in all careers where the rise isn’t seemingly fast enough for our personal preferences. Sometimes, like in the past several years, it’s more an indication of a slow and uncertain economy than of personal failings. Other times, it’s simply a matter of the natural narrowing of opportunities as one climbs traditional organizational pyramidal structures.
Either way, however, rather than allow the frustrations to drive you down, sapping your enthusiasm, your optimism, and your engagement, look for the upside of the stagnation. Here are some ideas for getting through these inevitable periods in our careers (If you’ve not experienced stagnation, yet….Hang on, it’s likely around an upcoming corner!):
- Reassess – Before your emotions get the best of you, take some time to really evaluate what’s driving your stagnation. Are the reasons internal, i.e., a result of your own actions or earlier decisions? Are they more external, i.e., industry downturn, fewer opportunities within your organization?
- Invest – Regardless of the reason, always seek out ways to invest in yourself. Perhaps that’s through further education or training. It could be that in focusing on other aspects of your life that bring you joy and passion as you wait out the slow time.
- Leverage – Reexamine your network, professional and personally. Are there ways you could use your connections to carve out a new career direction, or merely explore additional opportunities somewhere else? Ask someone out for coffee or a beer, not to ask them for a job, but just to reconnect and find out what’s going on in their “neck of the woods.” You never know where it may lead….
More than anything, no matter how you react to a slowdown of opportunity in your career, try to stay positive. More than anything else you can do, staying positive opens you up to opportunities when they do present themselves. And they will at some point. So, remember….
You’re right on time, no matter when you arrive.