Does your current job offer the kind of growth you need to build a successful career?
If you are being challenged, you are growing. Which means your career is growing.
If you are not being challenged, it may be time for you to move on.
Or it may be time for you to change your approach. Because you can’t rely on the company to do everything for you.
Maybe the company doesn’t have a career growth path for you. Many companies are terribly bad at this.
It could be that your boss is holding you back. That happens everywhere as well.
The company might not adopt new technology quickly enough, the people there may not like change, or funds might be tight and staffing light.
Sure, these things can be limiting. And even more so if you simply accept them.
But if you are yearning for more, if you are seeking to maximize your growth and earning potential, if you are looking for more, then you need to take matters into your own hands.
That might mean changing jobs. But it could also mean changing the approach you take to your current job.
After all, many people wait for their circumstances to change instead of taking steps to change what is in their power.
That’s often a mistake, even (and especially) if you are going to change jobs in order to continue to build your career and your income.
Because real growth comes from taking a leadership role in your career development.
This post is going to look at two ways that you can start to take greater responsibility for your career growth.
Two paths to new challenges
If you’ve been in your current position for a while, it may be getting a little stale.
You may not need to actively learn new skills or stretch yourself on a regular basis. It may not seem like there is much room to grow.
Fortunately, there are two ways that you can find more challenging and rewarding work.
You can travel the path well worn or you can break new ground.
Because following in the footsteps of others is the thing that can lead you to stand on the shoulders of giants. And reaching into unchartered territory can lead to exciting new discoveries.
At a certain point, keeping yourself challenged at work is your job. It’s the way that you keep yourself entertained. It’s the way you promote your own growth. And it’s the way you can keep adding more and more value to your work.
Let’s call these two paths *exploratory* and *experimental*.
The exploratory path
Exploring means going off the beaten path and trying new things.
You can venture into new territory by expanding your role. 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.
Most of your job may remain the same. That’s ok, because that’s where you can get experimental.
The experimental path
Routine is boring and predictable. Until you dig a little deeper.
Looking at the same old thing with fresh new eyes can uncover tremendous opportunity. You can find new and better ways of doing things, which will lead to increasing the value you bring to the table. And the fun you have while you are doing your same old job.
Because you will be changing the job on the fly.
Here’s the thing. We all find it easy and comforting to settle in.
But once things become so routine, they actually become ripe for experimentation.
What if you took one aspect of this controlled process and changed it?
Well, it’s probably going to be easy to see the results.
By taking small steps you can limit the down side. And you can learn lots of things.
Maybe there is a way to re-order tasks or batch things. You might be able to make a small change to the standard form or shift some habits that you haven’t changed in a while.
The key is to take a new look at old things and see if you can’t re-imagine small parts of it.
There is always a better way of doing things. You just have to be willing to look.
And that look can be energizing because it can lead to new ideas and real results. Which is always and exciting way to spice up something routine.
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.