Building a career is a constant and never-ending process over a span of decades. We are always in a state of development, learning and growth.
It is a long journey that comes with many obstacles. All you have to do is understand where you are today and where you want to get to. Then all the obstacles in between become part of the learning process to get you to your desired destination.
Wherever you are in your professional career, the obstacles are a normal part of life. Expect them, embrace them, know what it is that you want and learn from the obstacles.
Here are just 6 common obstacles that you may encounter in your career and ways to turn these into professional successes. Every obstacle is a potential step closer to your goal and you have to experience the contrast to help you grow along the way. It’s in the contrast that you allow yourself to work out what you like and don’t like. What you want and don’t want. Contrast is there to get you one step closer to your goal.
Is your team hostile or distant? Is there a lack of teamwork or company culture at play? Has the business suffered due to changing market conditions or a downturn in the commercial landscape? These elements can happen anytime, anywhere, in any industry, at any time. You have two options in these situations, either allow them to impact the way you think, feel and behave, or stay focused on your goals and navigate through them.
Most people allow external circumstances to impact their own performance and goals. All you need to focus on is doing the opposite of what the majority of people do, and work on becoming part of the solution rather than the problem. Aim to become a ‘cheerleader’ for your organisation or team, regardless of the circumstances. Ride it out.
You don’t want to go overboard but aim to introduce little things that may help make your colleagues feel more cared for. Can you organise an informal team lunch? Would bring in doughnuts one day a week help to break the ice? Can you talk to your manager about having a monthly team meeting where the first few minutes are reserved for something light-hearted and fun? This shows leadership skills and your efforts will be felt across the board. At the very least, you’re bound to improve at least one person’s day.
“The professional world is more cut-throat than ever before, with more skills available to be learned and mastered than at any other point in history; there are more roles, industries and made-up job titles than anyone can count. Because of this, having transferable skills can be a gift and a curse; just because you may be good at something, it doesn’t mean you necessarily want it to be your responsibility. However, if your managers get wind of your ability, you can soon find yourself getting moved about.” -Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant for giffgaff.
Knowing this, what options do you have? At first, it could seem like this is a negative thing. So, you really need to ask yourself, “How can I look at this differently? Could this be of benefit to me in the long run?”
Career building is a marathon and not a sprint, so always be looking for the opportunities rather than allowing your immediate emotions get in the way of the long-term goals.
You can only connect the dots looking backwards and when looking back at my own career, I can see exactly where what felt like “the contrast” at the time, ended up being the event that catapulted my trajectory.
This is one of the most common complaints of workers; after all, who hasn’t had a difficult boss at some stage of their career? According to a study from a US university, up to 40% of workers in the business world think they work for ‘bad’ bosses.
There is a way to turn this around and build on your own professional success. If you are stuck with a direct line manager that you don’t get along with, make it your mission to get to know other managers across the organisation at all levels, and build on these relationships in a subtle and non-threatening way.
Seek advice from them, build rapport and try to gain a wider understanding of how the business runs. Make sure you never directly undermine your manager and simply work on looking at the bigger picture.
In any long-term career, you will have a few incredible direct managers, many good managers, and a few that don’t suit you at all. When you have a great one, make sure you learn as much as possible from them and be grateful for the opportunity.
With good managers, help them wherever you can and enjoy the learning journey.
When you have managers where you are just not getting on and life is not great, you do one of two things. Understand that this too shall pass, and just concentrate on what is in your control till it changes (which it will – so you outlive it and learn from it), or if it is that unbearable, look for a new opportunity.
You learn so much from all three types of managers. Change is inevitable, and you will have many types of managers throughout your career. It’s all an opportunity to learn and grow. Keep your heart open at all times.
This is a common problem and one of the most feared as well as annoying job challenges. You may have worked hard on a project only to have someone in your team take all the credit. Or your ideas may constantly be sidelined by someone with a “louder voice” than you. Oh, that feeling. We have all experienced it, and you may have even done this yourself to someone without realizing at times.
In this case, going directly to HR to make a complaint may not be the best option. Complaining about it, in general, is not a productive way of dealing with this.
Fostering a fresh, workable relationship with your colleague is much more effective. Spend time listening to how they act in meetings, what their work ethic is and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Be open to their ideas, support them and watch how things change. Everyone in the room knows what’s happening and how you deal with it could be just as powerful as you come up with the idea yourself, if not more, for your long term career. Develop your listening skills and be that person who is constantly open to allowing the flow of the meeting to carry on smoothly. Don’t allow your ego to get in the way.
Make a conscious point of involving your colleague directly in projects where they normally take over. Plan extra meetings, some one-on-one time, and observe “how they tick”. If you can, seek to build a friendlier relationship with them over time and aim to shift the dialogue and the vibe.
“We’ve been taught that finding a job we are passionate about is the key to success. The problem is that there just aren’t enough jobs out there for all millennials to find a position that is full of both internal and external rewards. Entry-level jobs can seem especially mindless and insignificant, which is why it’s vital for millennials to think about their medium and long-term goals instead of freaking out about not feeling a sense of purpose during the first years of their careers. Purpose comes with years of experience and investment towards goals and a healthy work/life balance.” - Lexie Kadlec, Director of Enrollment Management at The Intern Group
Understanding that career building is a long-term strategy, define your 10 to 20-year career goal. Get help from someone who has done what you want to do and become aware that every step you take is a stepping stone to where you want to get to. Enjoy the journey, take risks, speak your truth, try new things, and always think from the end in mind. Ask yourself, who will I be and how will I behave when I am in my goal? What values will I have and how do I want to treat people? Then be that person today, in your current role. Don’t wait until you get there. Be that person today.
In pursuing your career goals, you will apply for many promotions and roles along the way. You are passionate, you have worked hard, you go above and beyond, so when the “perfect” role is advertised, you put your heart and soul in preparing for it. Expect that you will not get every role you apply for, you won’t get every opportunity you are seeking, and you will be disappointed along the way.
The question is not will you be rejected or disappointed along the way. The question will be, will you react or respond to them? How will you deal with these disappointments and how long will it take to pick yourself back up again and refocus on your goal?
Understand this, anyone who has ever done anything of any significance has experienced rejections and disappointments. It’s the way they dealt with them that determined their long-term success. Are you going to allow the disappointments to define you? Will you rise above them, learn from them, and allow yourself to become stronger as a result of them? The choice is always yours.
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