I’m beginning to see a pattern. A number of the young clients that I’ve worked with are struggling to thrive in their careers. The bloom happens during that first job right out of school. They’re unhappy and they can’t figure out why or what to do about it. I know exactly what’s running through their mind: they’ve worked hard, they’ve done all the right things, yet they’re still in a bad place.
I began to give this more thought within the last few days as I read Sheryl Sandlin’s new book, “Lean In”. In the book, she relays the steps she took to advance her career and she candidly shares the mistakes she made along the way.
After some thought, here’s a couple suggestions for young (and not so young) women struggling to find happiness in their career:
Know who you are and what you want in your career and personal life
This might sound like common sense to you, but there are many women that have no idea what they need and want. How can you possibly begin to search for that next step unless you know what makes you happy and what you need? Don’t even waste your time looking at job openings until you’ve done the hard work. Do you know your passions and strengths? Are you very clear on your talents in life and where you shine? One way to discover more about yourself is to get involved in activities outside your current job. You never know where you’re going to discover (or rediscover) a talent.
Be able to make the hard decisions and offend people
Sheryl mentioned this in her book and I agree 100%. Women like to be seen as nice and this often becomes a big, fat roadblock in their career. I’m not advocating stepping on others to move up the ladder, however, there will be times where you make a decision and not everyone is going to love you. That doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision; it just means that you take pride in making the right decision over making the decision that’s popular. That’s called integrity.
Realize that you have the power to change your situation
I’ve wasted a lot of time in past jobs trying to rationalize my current situation. This is a futile exercise that will only prolong your misery. You have a lot more choices than you THINK you do. Just because you’re unhappy in your current situation doesn’t mean that you can’t create a new and improved situation. Brainstorm possibilities right where your feet are planted. Be proactive and talk to key people in your present organization that are knowledgeable about opportunities. Focus on solutions and keep an eye on your goal. And here’s the big one: let people KNOW what you want.
Be willing to take a step backward to move forward
This is a hard one for many women to accept. In fact, this thinking keeps women in jobs that they can’t stand. It’s not easy to take a step back, but if you’re in a new position more aligned with your strengths, you’ll grow quickly. Realize that career growth is not always a linear process— there’re ups and downs and stumbles. Many women reinvent themselves at different points in their careers. Just keep the momentum going.
Don’t stop believing that you’re capable of great things
It all comes back to this very statement. Without your unwavering belief of YOU, it won’t happen. Sure, we all waver now and then, but a core foundation of belief is necessary for you to build career success. It’s truly all about the power of positive thinking.
Own your power and go after what you want!