It can be tough to manage expectations when it comes to your career. The truth is that the majority of people tend to have a narrow view of career development and think it only equates to promotion. Strategic career development focuses attention on a variety of growth opportunities and experiences, rather than relying only on promotions to feel like you’re growing and developing.
Career development involves creating a pathway to the future to gather the necessary skills to fulfill your career aspirations and increase your value. There are so many ways to grow beyond climbing the ladder. It’s important to remember that you’re still moving forward and progressing even if you’re not moving up to the next role as quickly as you wanted. Promotions can ebb and flow, but growth is always a choice. There’s so much learning that happens in each opportunity you take on – your personal growth is continuous if you put in the work.
Having rigid expectations can actually hinder your career if you aren’t careful. If you want to better manage your expectations, consider these tips:
1. Stay open-minded.
Your goal is to grow and reach your full potential, right? Well, that growth can happen in more ways than you know. It isn’t just a fancy new title that equates to growth. The more you embrace the capability building that comes with each new role and responsibility, the more you grow into the individual or leader you desire to be. Building these capabilities (strategic thinking, influence, confidence, etc.) creates even more readiness and self-assuredness for your next role. Don’t close yourself to opportunities before you fully consider what could be possible.
2. Focus on the big picture.
Don’t get fixated on career development only meaning promotions. If you get too focused on one particular role or title, you could limit your opportunities for experiences that might benefit you in the long run. It’s important to stay flexible – improve your employability through lateral moves, stretch projects, job rotations, etc. So, stay curious and keep your eyes open for new experiences around you. Don’t let your firm expectations be the reason great opportunities pass you by.
3. Take time to self-reflect.
Take the time to reflect on your career journey so far. Think about all the ways you’ve grown, the skills you’ve acquired, the value you’ve brought to the table, etc. Each role teaches you something new and requires you to flex new muscles. Don’t forget to stop and remind yourself of your achievements. You’re growing each day and each time you do something new!
4. Speak up.
Have direct and candid conversations about your desires at work. Talk with your manager or mentor about opportunities you’re interested in. Let them know your goals and ambitions. This will help you learn about what’s realistic in your organization and what opportunities might be available for you as you progress forward.
5. Practice patience.
Try not to put a strict time limit on things. There is often the assumption that people get promoted because they’ve worked hard and it’s been a certain amount of time, but it just isn’t that simple. Change is constant and getting a promotion is out of your control, so be kind to yourself along the way. Plus, opportunities may become available that you hadn’t even considered. Focus on the growth that’s happening as you go; if you focus on improving your capabilities in the now, you’ll be getting yourself ready for these opportunities when they do arise.
The opportunity to grow each day is there for everyone. It all depends on your mindset and the effort you put in!