Four Career Seeds You Should be Sowing

Our backyard in spring, May 2011

Our backyard under snow, October 2009

 

 

 

Spring has to be one of my most favorite times of the year. 

For me, it rivals the magic of Christmas and the splurge of summer.  Why?  Mostly becuase I fancy myself a gardener and in early May we see the first signs of  last year’s efforts.  That tree we planted is starting to bud out; those bulbs we transplanted have just broken the surface.  The cold, damp soil begins to reveal her secrets – proving that last year’s efforts may not have been in vain.

In the fall of 2009 my family moved into a more established neighborhood.  We moved late in the fall and the snow came unusually early so I missed the opportunity to plant anything of my own.  This past October I made up for it by planting several tulips and daffodils. 

So far, not everything has come up…

But there’s still a chance that they will!  Granted, some of the bulbs may have been duds.  Perhaps I planted a few too deep.  Others I may have planted too shallow and the frost killed them.  That’s to be expected; not all of our efforts will be successful.  The point is if we never make the effort, invest the time, and do the early ground work – how can we ever expect things to change? How can we expect things to improve?

Our career is much the same. 

Throughout University and college we invest so much effort and time – looking forward to the day when we can reap the rewards of our post-secondary education and bag our first precious permanent job.  Maybe we transplant ourselves a few times in those early years, trying on different roles or employers.  But at some point we generally settle in a particular job and our career begins to take root.

Fast forward a few years and we begin to see evidence of outgrowing those early choices. We start to feel bored. Stagnant. Root bound. If we haven’t taken the time to sow other seeds along the way we’re likely to find that we don’t have many career options open to us when we really need them. 

Have you ever dreamed about starting your own business? If you don’t sock away any savings or invest in any business training chances are it will remain a dream.  Maybe you’ve been so focused on the day-to-day of your job    that you’ve never made an effort to branch out; to explore other interests or develop other networks. Now you find that the only people you know are the ones you want to get away from. 

We can’t blame our employer when we find ourselves at a career dead end.

They’re not the gardeners of our career.  The goal of any organization is to get the most out of its employees – and any development opportunities are more likely to serve the interests of the organization, not the employee. The take home message: don’t leave your future in your employer’s hands. 

So how can you grow your career?

How can you sow the seeds to a brighter future? Here are four easy actions that every person should take to grow their career.

Four Career Seeds you Should be Sowing: 

  1. Develop a new network.  Some jobs are so demanding that they leave us little time to pursue outside interests. Be wary if this is you!  Do whatever you must to carve out time to develop friendships and pursue interests that are unrelated to your work.  There may come a time when you need a circle of friends that know you independent of your employer. 
  2. Diversify your skills.  Have you ever thought about starting your own business? It’s never too early or too late to grow your business savvy. Indulge your curiosity by reading the latest business gurus, registering for a teleseminar, or taking entrepreneurs out to lunch.  Learn as much as you can as early as you can.
  3. Design your future.  You have two choices in life: hope that something good happens or decide that it will.  My advice; don’t wait for serendipity. Decide right now where you want to be in 5 or 10 years. Then look critically at what the first small step is that can take you in that direction.  Then take it!   Action breeds opportunity. 
  4. Discover what makes you tick. We humans are an incredibly adaptable lot. We can endure jobs that make little use of our talents, demand us to be someone we’re not, and bore us to tears.  But that’s not a life well lived.  The happiest (and most successful) people are the ones whose career honours their unique strengths, personality, and interests (aka the trifecta of career satisfaction).  So get a career coach (*ahem* I’m available) and do some serious digging to discover what you need to be happy.

Some of this year's tulip crop!

Small efforts today can turn into huge gains down the road.   But, as any farmer or gardener knows, unless you sow some seeds today you’ll have nothing to reap tomorrow.  It takes time, effort, and patience to make good things happen in your career. 

So if you know you’ve been neglecting your future – don’t despair! Roll up your sleeves and get dirty. 

Spring is THE season to get growing.

 

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