If you feel like you are stuck in a job with no progression, it might be time to consider a new approach.
Earlier in your career, you may have benefited from development programs, promotions, or job changes. Opportunities like these have probably helped you to learn more, earn more, and take on new responsibilities.
But as you get deeper into your career, these types of opportunities don’t come as easily or as often.
Maybe this leaves you feeling frustrated, because you know that you are capable of doing more.
You are ready to take on new challenges, embrace new responsibilities, and advance your career. But the opportunities just aren’t presenting themselves.
Sometimes this means it’s time to quit your job and move on to something new. But it might also mean that it is time to take a new approach to your career development.
Instead of waiting for opportunities to come your way, you might need to take a leadership role in your professional development.
And the best place to do that might be in the job you are holding right now.
Taking a leadership role in your career development
The truth is that most companies struggle to provide good career paths and effective professional development opportunities for their staff.
This can happen for lots of reasons. The company may be going through hard times. The people around you might not like change. The organizational culture may sacrifice staff growth for short-term gains. Your boss could be holding you back.
Any or all of these things might be in your way. But you can still succeed.
Because real growth comes from taking a leadership role in your career development.
Rather than waiting for things to happen, you can make them happen.
Being able to find new ways to challenge yourself at work is a great way to keep yourself motivated, to promote your own grown, and to keep adding more and more value to your work.
All of these things benefit you now and in the future.
The two main ways you can do this are with experiments path and the explorations.
One looks for new ways to do things and the other looks for new things to do.
Both provide ways for you to grow your skills, experience, knowledge, and wisdom right from where you are sitting today.
What’s more, getting good at these approaches helps you to keep growing no matter where you go next.
First, the experimental path
If you are bored with your job, it might be because so much of it has become routine. However, re-examining routine work can be eye-opening.
Stopping to take a fresh look at parts of your job that you haven’t thought about in a while can help you to see new possibilities.
Maybe you will see a way to re-order tasks to improve a process. You might think up a way to tweak some standard templates or forms in order to streamline things. Perhaps you will come up with something more drastic.
Once you have some ideas for how to do things better, you can setup some experiments.
Change your process and see if things improve. If they do, great. You can take your experiment and turn it into a permanent change.
If things don’t improve, you can always revert back to your old routine. And you can use the lessons from this failure to come up with better ideas for change.
This experimental approach is beneficial because it helps you to become more efficient, deliver more value, and learn.
Your work will have a bigger impact, which makes it more rewarding for you while also helping your reputation and image.
You will learn a lot, from both your failures and your successes, that will help you to grow as a professional.
Second, the exploratory path
Exploring means going off the beaten path and trying new things.
One way to do this is to volunteer to help out with projects or functions outside of your normal responsibilities.
You might offer to help your boss with something new. Or maybe you can assist a colleague in another area. You could work your way onto a project team or other cross-functional group.
Anything that changes the scope of your perspective will be a huge opportunity. Because you will gain a view into new functions, new perspectives, and how different people work in your organization.
These don’t have to big changes, either. If you look for ways to get your foot in the door to new experiences, you might be surprised how many you can uncover.
That effort, and a little patience, will lead you down many new roads over time.
You will make new connections and gain new insights.
Anything and everything new that you can do is what the exploratory path is all about. You are not trying to change things overnight or commit to anything drastic. You are simply exploring.
You are poking around and checking things out, taking in as much information and experience as you can. Just like if you were on vacation in someplace new.
Finding your way
You need to be challenged at work. That’s what makes it fun and exciting. That’s what leads to growth. And growth is how you build a career.
But your current situation may not be super challenging. Maybe you’ve been in the position for a while. Or maybe your company, your boss, and/or your peers just aren’t very interesting in change.
After all, many places these days are endlessly chasing efficiency more than innovation.
That’s ok. Because you can (and should) take matters into your own hands.
You have two simple but powerful ways you can challenge yourself right now.
You can take the exploratory path where you find new territory to cover. It might involve helping your boss in a new way or contributing in new areas of the organization.
These opportunities are out there, if you are willing to exercise a little patience to hunt them down and let them evolve over time. They will look small at first, but they will grow over time if you work at it.
The other option you have is to re-examine routine parts of your job. This is the experimental path.
Routine is ripe for improvement through experimentation. Again, you can find small ways to test out new ideas. If they don’t work out, the risk is minimal. If the do work you, you can find new ways to add value to your organization.
And no matter what, you will be learning along the way. You will be gaining insights and experience that will help you to develop skills and judgement. Plus, you will be keeping yourself much more engaged in your work.
By finding ways to engage yourself in your current job, you will learn and grow more. You will enhance your skills and experience. You will build your resume and qualifications.
You will remain happier and more satisfied too. All of this positions you well to move on to a more exciting challenge when the opportunity arises.
And well-prepared to add big value and find contentment for the rest of your career.