New career moves

It's a strange fact of employment that jobs change your ideas about your career. Naturally, the perspective is different from the pre job era, but the sheer amount of change is sometimes a real surprise.

Ideas evolve, naturally enough. However, they can evolve into completely different concepts. In career terms, this can be very unsettling, and can cause dissatisfaction with jobs, and the whole idea of a career.

Sometimes this is pretty understandable. The Dream Job turned out to be a nightmare, the workplace stinks, the boss is insufferable, don't like the people…

It's a very long list of any form of annoyance imaginable.

Often, these are perfectly legitimate grievances. There are real problems, and the thinking, naturally enough, is working on them.

Another version of this situation works on other elements, leading to dissatisfaction.

Things like the whole idea of the job is boring, no promotion opportunities, no appreciation, the career path is looking like a goat trail…

These are also legitimate issues, based on potential problems. They can be extremely annoying, and worrying.

Let's be fair about this, both these classes of views are based on situations that can be serious. On the job problems are always bad, at any level. They create real insecurity, and they're often extremely stressful. A boring job with no promotion opportunities may sound relatively trivial, compared to being unemployed or problems on the job. But if you're being condemned to career stagnation for the rest of your life, it's anything but trivial. You could, literally, be wasting your life, with opportunities going to waste, too.

But-

The thinking is actually practical, it's the amount of emotional content that makes it so hard to live with.

Without minimizing the problems, that thinking can also create problems of its own, problems you need to avoid. It's possible to become purely reactive, and that can lead to real trouble.

Look at the possibilities created by those situations:

  • You quit
  • You get fired
  • You go sour on the job, and go nowhere because you're not trying
  • You have endless conflicts on the job, creating more problems
  • Your stress levels go through the roof, and you just suffer
  • Your career falls to pieces because you can't move in any direction

All of these things are potential disasters in the making. They all have one thing in common: You lose.

  • If you quit, you're out of one problem into another.
  • If you get fired, you're out of the problem with no reference, and a hole in your CV.
  • If you go sour on the job, you'll make it worse. You may stop trying at living, too, and that's not a good move.
  • The conflicts get worse, over time, not better, unless the people you're in conflict leave, which never seems to happen.
  • Stress is a killer, and it's not a career asset, by definition. It can cost you your career, your job, and your future.
  • Career crashes are common, and what they have in common is that they're serious problems which can take years to fix, if ever.

You'll notice that none of these problems relate to doing your actual work or your professional skills. There may be disputes with others, but the disputes are a problem in their own right, personal, not professional.

Career and job problems usually arise out of the fact that you've advanced, but your career or job hasn't. The job isn't a challenge, just the workplace. You've outgrown the job, and you've realized, instinctively, it's time to move on.

The career isn't moving, so you, rightly, are getting frustrated.

The risk is that wrongly, you'll take the first available step out of those situations, and that step can be straight over the first available cliff.

There's another way of looking at these job and career problems.

The on the job problems are all local issues, not really related to your abilities, except in work related spats with people. That's one of the reasons they're so annoying. It's also a reason why you shouldn't allow these things to make career decisions for you, directly or indirectly, under any circumstances.

The career problems are a matter for research, not reactive behavior. Careers don't just happen. To be successful, they need thought and planning. Getting reactive is almost the exact opposite of the thinking you need, and you don't get to do any planning.

Career By Crisis Management is not a good idea.

One reaction sets off another. You need, (in fact you don't have a choice), ways through the junkyard.

What you actually need, in both types of situation, is the right advancement of your own position.

The on the job problems are long term career irrelevancies, unless they're allowed to become serious issues. The important thing is to find a way upward, into your proper career position for your current state of skills and personal perspective.

For those on the job issues, you can take the soft option. Just go along with the idiocy until you can get yourself out on your own terms, not forced out by situations or irrational people. You can just leave those issues alone. Don't bother fighting wars with people if you can't gain anything out of them, anyway, it doesn't work. The work environment can become poisonous, and counterproductive. If someone wants to pick a fight, and you don't react, it makes them look bad. You can defend yourself by being reasonable and helpful, and it drives bullies up the wall.

The career issues, generally, apply to both classes of problem. The answer is a lot easier than it looks:

You move on, professionally, leaving the situation obsolete, a museum specimen.

In any career, you can move forward by:

  • Qualification
  • Training
  • Diversifying your experience in external work
  • Extra skills
  • Entrepreneurial work

Any of these steps will make your current position a thing of the past. You're no longer confined by limitations on your skills or qualifications. You've made a career fait accompli, an irrefutable step forward.

In career terms, this is like a disclosed check in chess. You've proven your higher level of skills, beyond contradiction. You're harder to argue with, if arguments arise, because you have a proven record in these additional capabilities.

You're even harder to argue with if you're better qualified than the person arguing. You can expect the level of on the job conflicts to drop, significantly, with the right credentials.

Even better, you're also equipping yourself for future advances.

You need to do these things anyway, but job and career issues often take the enthusiasm out of the work.

The golden rule:

Never allow situations to run your life.

You're the only one entitled to do that. You can put your old problems in the museum, where they belong.