This time of year is a great time to think about the choices that you’ve made this past year and to think about the choices that lie ahead. Making progress in your career is about making choices. I’ve talked and wrote about being stuck in the middle, have given lots of free and paid advice, and have coached others about getting unstuck.
The fact is, when it comes down to it, you have to create choice points in your life. You have to create situations where you have options. To do that requires effort, preparation and hard work. Performance on the job is table stakes. If you’re not performing your option set becomes depleted. You give up any leverage that you may have.
It goes without saying that options in your career work best when you’re the one in control of the outcomes. The control that you have over your career isn’t as simple as it appears. There are others who weigh in on what happens, when and how. You have the ultimate decision to make and control of whether you’re willing to go by their judgment or their timeframe for your advancement.
You also have the ability to walk at any time, but the reality is, for most people at least, you’re not walking without somewhere else to go. So how do you influence the timeline or how do you influence others that the opportunity for you is more than what you’re doing today? It’s about getting unstuck.
First, and I’ll reiterate this, performance is table stakes. If you’re not performing, you’re stuck for a reason. There’s a choice point for you to make, step up your game or continue to cruise. It’s your call. If it’s a skill issue, get training or consider a different role and talk to your manager about playing out of position and how you can have more of an impact on the organization if you played elsewhere on the team.
Second, it’s about your network. You need to grow it, you need to nurture it and you need to own it. Your network should be internal and externally based. You need people in other organization and from different walks of life who are willing to advocate for you. Networks take time to build, they take effort and they require reciprocity. You need to give in order to get.
If you’re feeling stuck, evaluate the choices available to you this year. Think about what you can and WILL do differently. You can take the “oh me, oh my” approach or you can act.
As you have often heard me say, you have only two choices: (1) either wait, and hope for the life and career you want, or (2) seek, and find your life and career passion and MAKE/TAKE the life and career you want.
Today is the tomorrow you were preparing for yesterday.
What will you do with your today?