4 Ways to Take Charge of Your Career
Career responsibility requires action, responsibility, and ownership from you
You are the most important factor in whether you experience career growth and development. The most important issue about your career is taking responsibility for your own career. Here's how to take charge of your own career.
Don't Wait for What You Want to Happen—Make It Happen
Often times, people wait for coworkers to come to them, for promotions to land in their laps, and for management to offer up new jobs on a platter. Employees get frustrated when they see coworkers rewarded before they are, even if they're harder workers. What gives?
First of all, many bosses are busy doing their own work and not heavily focused on your career path. Your boss doesn't know that you really want to learn how to do X, or that you've wanted to learn how to manage projects unless you tell her. Your coworker might just have the good projects because she asked for them.
This isn't advice to become obnoxious or pushy, but it is advice that you need to speak up. If your pay is too low, don't expect your boss to just notice—ask for a raise. If you want that international assignment, throw your hat into the ring. Don't expect others to make things happen for you.
If you need more education or more training for the job you want, go out and get it. If you think, “oh it will take too long to get that certification,” then it will take too long to get it—because you're not even starting.
If you want to take charge of our own career growth and development, figure out a way to do it and start on that path today. Take an online course. Register at your local community college. Apply for a graduate program. Understand that you are held back only by you. If you want a job that requires an MBA, then start working towards that MBA, don't just hope that someday you'll get the promotion anyway.
Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes
All employees make mistakes at work. Sometimes they make really big mistakes. When you make a mistake, what's your initial reaction? Do you look to find someone else to blame? Try to cover up the errors you made? If that's the case, you're not taking responsibility for yourself.
Instead, try using the following phrase: “I'm sorry. I made a mistake. Let me fix it.” Or, “That was my fault. What can I do to fix it?” Note it's not, “The computer wouldn't work properly and Jane didn't do X and Steve didn't do Y.” It's “I made a mistake.”
Even though it's true that Jane didn't do X and Steve didn't do Y, if you put the blame on them, you won't make people trust you and believe in you.
When you take responsibility for your mistakes, you can begin to fix them. When you ignore them or blame others for them you never improve.
Fix Your Own Short-Comings
If you're late for work most of the time because of traffic, you're not really late because of traffic. You're late because you're leaving too late for work. Arriving late because of traffic happens every once in a while because of something unusual. Be honest with yourself and your boss: you need to leave for work 15 minutes earlier.
When you are behind on your workload, is it because your work is truly overwhelming or is it because you're wasting time on the internet or playing games on your phone? If it's truly overwhelming, meet with your boss to discuss organizational strategies and priorities. If you're wasting time, stop it. Remember, you're paid to work.
If you are constantly in conflict with other people, is it because they are horrible people or because you antagonize people? Are you the one with the short temper? If you're constantly in conflict something is going on. And, if it's you, it's best that you identify it now and fix it.
You can ask your HR department for help with developing people skills, for instance. You can take a class. You can set a goal to say three nice things to people every day. Whatever you do, do it with a specific goal to improve your relationships with other people.
Be Willing to Let Things Go
Even when you take control of your own life, things happen that you can't control. For instance, your company can lay you off even when you're a great performer. When this happens, you can either wallow in self-pity or you can say, “Okay, that stinks. Now it's time to get my resume in shape and look for a new job.”
Let go of the hurt and anger you feel and move forward. It's not easy, but thousands have done it before you, and so can you.
You will make your life better when you take responsibility for yourself and your career.