How do you know if your career is headed in the right direction?
It’s a question I am asked by Career Coaching clients all the time, usually in the context of someone who thinks the grass is (or would be) greener at another organization.
But believe me, it’s not always greener. Sometimes we mistake routine, comfort or temporary frustration at our current job as unfixable, then create a perception in our minds that “it is so much better” somewhere else. I see it all the time – people job-hopping from place to place, but encountering the same frustrations.
I think this is a trend we see across our culture right now – always looking for that next big thing, not recognizing what is positive about the present, but rather looking for future opportunities. You even see it in how we are always checking our phones and devouring social media to see what others are doing.
The point is this: While I definitely believe in keeping your eyes on the goal/destination in your career, it can be dangerous to your development if you are constantly being distracted by “what else might be out there.”
The question then becomes, how do you know if you already have a good thing going – or is your “grass is greener” mentality justified? I have identified three career conditions that indicate you should stay focused on the career you presently have, and live fully in the moment.
- It provides learning opportunities. There is a difference between being assigned to new projects vs. looking for and selecting the opportunities that you want to learn from. Are you in regular meetings with your manager and letting them know what you would like to learn? Are you set up to grow your skill sets and remain relevant in the market? If your manager is willing to engage in matching up learning opportunities with your desires, then you are in a good place.
- It provides a challenge. Does your current organization support your need to find a challenge that you can not only achieve, but even over-achieve? Do projects cross your desk that you anticipate beginning? At the end of your day, do you feel that you have wasted your time, or feel a since of satisfaction?
- It provides a real cultural fit. What behaviors do you want to be rewarded for? Does your manager/organization support your work values and work style? More importantly, are you in some way being rewarded and/or acknowledged for your support, ideas, or ability to play well with others? Does management communicate with you about their vision for the organization – and does that match the way you work?
No workplace is perfect. But if you work a supportive environment, feel challenged, and have obtainable goals, then you have a winning combination! Don’t be distracted by the thought you are missing out on what “looks better” on the surface.