So, you tell yourself the reason you aren't getting ahead is because the boss is a jerk. Or, your peers are a bunch of back-stabbing idiots who prevent you from getting recognition. And the company? Just another heartless hierarchy that doesn't care about its people.
While this may help you feel better as you dive into another chorus of "woe is me," it's not going to get you very far in your career. This is especially true if you see the same thing happening everywhere you work.
It's time to look at things from another perspective. Specifically, what are you doing every day to make your career better? What are you doing to meet your goals and get ahead?
If you want to succeed, you're going to have to work hard at reaching your goals. You can't expect others to do it for you, and you've got to be willing to go around, under or over obstacles. It won't be easy, but without this effort, you're going to stay stuck and unhappy.
Let's look at some things you can do to get out of your career rut and start playing the career game a lot smarter:
- Get noticed. If you're sitting behind your computer all day and never popping your head out except to go to the bathroom or mandatory employee benefits meetings, you're going to start to resemble a potted plant. Make it a habit to walk over to someone's desk to deliver a short message, pop into the breakroom to say "hi" when you know someone from another department is there and give a friendly greeting to those you pass in the hallway. You want to ensure that people see you, not a nameless blob at a desk.
- Get uncomfortable. Recently I took a cruise, which is something I never thought I would do. I don't like the water and I don't like crowds. On top of that, I don't like heights. But I went on the cruise, made myself participate in activities where there were lots of people -- and went zip lining in the Dominican Republic. I won't say that there weren't moments my heart kind of stuttered, but I did it. I did it and I enjoyed myself. The point is, the next time something comes along that makes you a bit uncomfortable at work (heading up a new committee, working with people you don't know, etc.) seize the day. Not pushing yourself is a career killer.
- Get connected. Join your company's softball team, participate in groups on LinkedIn or volunteer to help work an industry association's conference. It doesn't matter what you choose, as long as you will meet people in your industry and community that will not only enrich your life -- but help you form key connections for getting ahead in your career.
Remember, if you're unhappy in your career, don't start looking for answers outside your job or company before you take some time to reflect on how your actions -- or inactions -- may be contributing to the problem. Sometime we're unhappy because we feel things are out of our control, when the truth is we often have more than we realize.
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