Updated: Jan 22
“It’s not what you achieve, it’s what you overcome. That’s what defines your career.” Carlton Fisk
It's winter and our minds naturally turn to seeking comfort - comfort food and getting comfortable in our homes and lives, so we can get through those winter months.
But if it’s comfort that you seek and need in your career then it might be time to think about making a change. It's not good to be comfortable at work, to take it easy. Sure, it might reduce your stress and give you certainty about what your day will look like. It doesn’t lead to an exciting career path, however.
So, take a moment to ask yourself: are you working within your skill set? Are you taking risks? Are you pushing the envelope in terms of seeking new challenges? Are you stimulated at work? Would you say you are playing it safe? Playing small?
If the answer is ‘no’ to a number of those questions, it might be time to rethink your role. It doesn't necessarily mean finding a new job; it could mean finding other ways to have more impact at work and feel like you are conveying your full worth.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain
The employees that are happy in the workplace are those that take the time to reflect on what they do well. Making a record of those achievements - the highlights of your role – will help you to paint a really clear picture of what you do well!
An achievement could be describing the situation where you helped a client resolve a complex problem; it could be a new process you designed and implemented or the way you trained up a new team member without being asked.
Essentially, your list of achievements helps you to look at your role and identify what you are doing well; they describe the value that you are adding to your team and organisation. The process can be very motivating! It’s been a key strategy in helping my clients embrace their strengths and recognise when it’s time to seek a new role, expand their role or move to a new organisation.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown
If there are things that annoy you at work – perhaps the admin, the invoicing, meetings - could you propose a narrowing or changing of your scope of work to avoid some of those things – perhaps the admin could be delegated while you take on more planning tasks? How can you ‘engineer’ your job so that your role is more closely aligned with the things you want to do?
You could also have a think about your behaviours in the work place - what kind of ways do you typically behave? What behaviours do you consistently demonstrate? Are you the kind of person that brings humour to the workplace; are you the networker within the workplace; are you someone who is always willing to help; are you someone who likes to motivates people around you; do you like to organise systems and meetings?
Reviewing these behaviours helps you identify what you are good at - could this suggest a new skill to add to your CV or could you offer that skill for a specific project at work?
Conversely, if you identify behaviours that might be negative at work (complaining, missing deadlines, getting too involved in office politics) could you make some changes to this or learn new strategies to become a more constructive team member?
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” Milton Berle
You could think about upskilling - is there a course that you could do that would help you expand your skills? It could be something as simple as getting good at Excel spreadsheets; you could you learn a new technology via an online course; could you find a mentor to help you build a skill into a strength for you? Small steps in this area can really help you. Embracing the love of lifelong learning is a great habit to cultivate.
Consider asking your manager if you could expand your job description to add more challenge, take on more responsibility, have more impact. For example, offering to conduct the induction for new staff members, sharing knowledge with your team, or offering to peer review others’ work.
In addition, you could start looking at the job market and seeing what's out there. This could be done by getting alerts about jobs you could be interested in (narrow your search using key words) so you can see what trends are happening for these types of jobs, explore the skill-sets required and understand the language used to describe each role.
Finally, keep your CV up to date! It’s motivating to see what you do well, and everyone needs to get confident in articulating their strengths and their value. When you know you have skills and experience to offer and your marketing tools are up to date, you are ready to react to the moving job market and take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
Being uncomfortable at work can lead to excitement – so embrace some discomfort as it isn’t a bad thing!
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” M. Scott Peck
I'm Tracey Beard, a career expert and coach, and Founder of Career Matters. I am changing the way students and young adults across New Zealand explore their career options and study choices. Know a young adult that needs help? Let's start a conversation.