How do you take that next step in your career? And more importantly, what is the next step? Some experts give advice on how to find out. “When in doubt, take small steps, but get moving.”
Most people no longer share the notion that work is just that: work. We do not only work for money but want to be challenged and want to fit in the organizational culture, have pleasant contact with colleagues, and have a good work-life balance of great importance. If things don’t work out for a while, we just switch jobs. Or start for ourselves.
How about this for a fact!
Just over half of employees in the West hope to find new work soon. But how do you make the right choice here? The idea here is to take small steps, but keep moving. Taking things one step at a time, that is – appropriately – the motto of many experts in the field. Finding out what you want in your career is not always easy, so it is advised: if you are in doubt, take small steps, but do get moving. You should only make big decisions when you really have a goal in mind, in the meantime, you can read up, do internships and follow workshops to find out what you want.
There are a lot of people who are stuck in their careers and get caught up in the thought process. By setting them in motion – literally– they become enthusiastic again and they arrive at new ideas. According to the experts, quitting your job before you know what you want is not a good idea. Sometimes there are opportunities within your job. Think about what needs to change in order to get satisfaction from your work again and discuss this with managers.
Why six years?
Some experts warn you. You won’t get any further with navel-gazing on the couch, you become wiser from the perspectives of others. A lot of people think that their job has to be their passion in order to be happy, but that’s nonsense. Your work is not your identity, because if it falls away, you are nothing. Don’t make it bigger than it is. As long as you enjoy going to work, your work is appreciated and you can earn your money with it, you are in a good position.
They do see six years as the best-before date of a job. Everything is new in the first year, in the second year the deepening comes, and in the following years, you expand that further. After six years you don’t learn anymore, you know the trick. If that’s fine with you, you can of course stay put, but that’s not good for your labor market mobility. If after 25 years of loyal service the company goes bankrupt, it is very difficult to find a new job. So to stay attractive: switch every now and then.
Also often heard among career counselors: we spend too much time in our heads and listen too little to our feelings. But how do you know if your gut feeling is a good counselor? The tension and reluctance you can feel with a new challenge, is it because of cold feet, or is the step just not the right one?
You can only find out by doing research. During a job interview, ask smart questions (why did the predecessor leave, what are the future plans, and what competencies do you want to see?), spend a day in the department, talk with someone who could become your colleague, or with people who have just left. You don’t get much further with navel-gazing on the couch, you become wiser from the perspectives of others.
Make a career plan
So ask yourself: what do I need to excel? ‘Is that a manager who stands squarely behind you, for example? Nice, hardworking colleagues? Or do you want to be left alone as much as possible and work autonomously? Find out if this is possible with the new position and the company. And sometimes you just have to try something out to see if it suits you.
Some have careers that more or less happen to them, but it would be wiser to map out a career plan. Many people see a path as: in a few years I will be a manager and I will lead ten people, then fifty or five hundred. But you can also become a super-specialist or a super generalist or a very good car repairman. It is advisable to think about this. Are you going for a big car or do you want to contribute something to society? Then you think of the steps that go with it. Such a plan is not cast in concrete, but it does provide direction.
How do you discover what you want?
Many millennials feel that their lives have to be perfect in every way, including their work. That brings a lot of pressure. A job does not have to contain all your wishes, you can also get them from other things. In career paths, we often end up with someone going to work one day less. On that one day, for example, he or she can go gardening or work in a coffee shop, if that is the wish. This is how you fill in the piece you are missing outside of your job.
We’re often in a mode where we just keep going, but sometimes it’s wise to take a step back and look, what else is out there? Many people have a dream but think: it is not feasible. Is that really so? People need to be encouraged to think big. Let yourself be carried away on that pink cloud. Then you go back to a more realistic phase. Sometimes it turns out that for a dream you have to make a lot of sacrifices. But by thinking big, you better find out what you feel.
Do I want to take this step because I like it, or because my environment expects it of me? If you’re in doubt, is it because you don’t dare to make mistakes, or is this step not right for you? A career is a big issue, in which all kinds of forces play a role: expectations of family, friends, the pressure you put on yourself. Your feeling is therefore not always easy to identify, so you can practice with smaller choices. After that, bigger decisions are also easier for you.
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