Sometimes, we get so bogged down by what’s happening at work that we let it cloud our perception: I can’t start a job search in the midst of this re-organization. I have to assist with this database upgrade before I can even look for a new position. I need to hold down the fort until my company onboards a new executive director.
At times like this, you have to remember: company loyalty is admirable, but your own free agency is important too. Just as employers have to do what is in the best interest of their business, you have to do what best serves you — so if you’re eager to explore new career opportunities, don’t think that you have to wait until the time is right for your employer.
Recognize Your Priorities
Your priorities are different than your company’s goals. It’s important to take stock of yours, independent of your manager’s or your team’s aims. What is it that you hope to accomplish professionally, and how are you progressing towards achieving your ambitions?
Ian D. Boreham, career coach and author of Why Your Boss Can’t Help You, explains: “Problems arise when we stop listening to ourselves. Our own intuition and inner guide. We start to prioritize company goals and needs over personal ones. . . Over time we start to unconsciously give up the thing that is most precious to us – what we want – our inner sense of direction and purpose. This is why you need your career plan and [a] set of criteria that you can evaluate your career progress against.”
Revisit your career goals and analyze where you are in terms of achieving them — your true priority is to work towards those. Hopefully, your current role aligns with those aims. If not, don’t surrender your focus in support of your company’s; find a role that better supports your ambitions.
Boreham advises: “Helping your company achieve their objectives will always be a part of a successful career, but it should never be at the expense of your long-term vision for your own personal and professional growth.”
The Thrill of Being a Hot Prospect
Talent is a hot commodity, and you’re likely to get a boost of confidence when you see how your current role has enhanced your marketability. While you’ve been diligently fulfilling your duties, you’ve also been learning new skills, enhancing your technological prowess and building your network.
Every day, you are learning and growing as a professional. Hopefully, your employer continues to cultivate your skills and talents and there’s room for you to grow and advance. A pipeline to further such professional growth is not a job perk, it’s a necessity.
Being supported in your development goals and knowing that there’s room for you to grow at your institution is key to job satisfaction. If you feel stagnant in your role, despite efforts to move to a different team or get a promotion, it’s up to you to keep moving forward towards your goal. Boreham explains: “Each person needs to take personal responsibility for future-proofing their own career. This may not always be consistent with the immediate needs of the business that employs you, but yours is a longer and more important goal.”
If you find yourself feeling unfilled in your current role, then it’s a good time to start updating your candidacy package and plan. Doing so can give you that infusion of energy you’ve been craving. While it might seem challenging, at first, to go through the project of refining and revising your materials, it also gives you the chance to take stock of how you’ve evolved, which can be so refreshing.
While it may not be a good time for your company to lose you, the reality is that the company should have stewarded you better. Part of an employer’s role is to support employees in their continued development — that keeps employees engaged.
Be Honest With Yourself
Comfort is hard to concede. Transition can be a full body exercise, which can be difficult to invite. Sometimes it’s easier to say, “I want to wait out a transition that my employer is weathering,” than it is to ask yourself: “Am I bored and restless enough to get out of this comfy and familiar arrangement?”
But having a job that brings out the best in you is worth dislodging your comfortable seat to pursue. Comedian Jim Carrey reflected: “My father could’ve been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice: Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
You’re a free agent. Pursue the aims that matter to you.