DJHP / Leaders / Careers
Astronaut Scott Kelly had much training in the art of navigating while being untethered by gravity and is suffering sore muscles now that he’s landed. Back here on planet earth the heads of many bright, highly motivates men and women are bumping an unanticipated career ceiling. Up to now they describe a career trajectory that has followed personal growth expectations as well as those projected by the culture.
However, instead of the former upward (and sometimes rapid) mobility of their earliest years, they are now praised, asked to be patient—and given an increased workload.
Any available opportunities are few and many are lateral moves. At the same time, there may be no opportunities for advancement or they may see others, less experienced, advancing before them.
Having taken on responsibilities and expenses of couple-hood and parenthood with related obligations and activities that allow little personal time, these men and women report feeling trapped and isolated. Frustration accompanies anxiety because they have so much experience, energy and more to give. This desire is typically not tied to a desire for greater income as the top priority. Instead, they desire a challenge and opportunity to feel stimulated, do great work and grow in responsibility and leadership.
Turning inward, these feelings impact self-confidence and self-concept. Keeping up appearances at work makes home-life a safe haven. But mates and kids are often sacrificed. The need to project an image of having it all together on the job runs counter to the disillusionment setting in, showing up emotionally and behaviorally in other parts of life.
Revisit Your Foundation
With so much focus on day-to-day demands and so little time, it’s easy to forget that career and business are not ALL of life, but rather one highly important element.
A life in which career and business thrives—no matter the ups and downs—requires thoughtfully interlinking four cornerstones that create a rock-solid foundation for a whole life.
These cornerstones should be visited on a regular basis to make sure they are functioning well together. Typically they need some strengthening during down-times and discouraging times.
So, if your work-life is basically stable — meaning your job is secure and income is supporting your lifestyle, you as the boss or your superiors are content with your productivity — then refocus your energies on a re-evaluation of these four cornerstones:
The Self-Development Cornerstone
Busy people always put themselves last. Yet some attention to your own learning is often the type of challenge you want in a career. When this is not overtly happening on the job, remember those pastimes you used to do or intend to do someday, outside of work. How might you integrate one or two of them into your life right now to satisfy your soul, your need for play or your desire to grow as a human being.
Consciousness and growth is a choice.
Wise people teach that no one is forced
to grow or become conscious;
they do say you have to use it,
or you lose it.
Examples of small but impactful self-development activities my clients choose are quite varied. They include everything from taking out a guitar that’s been sitting in a closet or making another wooden flute. Setting aside 10 minutes every morning to read a special meditation or passage as a start to the day. Walking, skiing or some outdoor activity to reset the energy each evening. Learning a new language, taking voice lessons or an improv class can get you out of your comfort zone.
Other self-development pursuits are connected to professional growth and include volunteer work or participation on a board. A commitment to become a better listener or focusing on changing a behavior pattern at work. These can be a private but important learning that benefits your entire life.
The Life Values and Future Vision Cornerstone
Many people make assumptions they know the future direction they are aiming for. Or they live in the day-to-day and don’t think much about it.
Living such a long lifespan means we go through many phases or stages that are somewhere between 7 to 10 to even 15 year spans of time. Taking time to think into the future does many things. It can be fun to imagine what else you’d really like to do. Sometimes it’s an evolution of a current career and sometimes it’s expansion of a side gig. Or something totally different from current pursuits.
Such evaluation often puts the present in perspective. Paired with evaluating your values, people often find it easier to focus on what’s most important and let other things go.
For more on this, read the article:
Knowing what direction you want to go and grow in also brings up the need to recommit to a current course, commit to a new course or to lay the stair-steps to a next stage. This links the self-development cornerstone, impacts career or business choices, and always impacts the next cornerstone which is about solidifying your most important relationships.
The Relationship Development Cornerstone
Long-term and closest relationships are typically the ones most taken for granted be they a mate, children, close friends, even extended family. This is an opportunity to self-evaluate how you and your relationships are functioning. Are you as hell-bent on achieving in this arena as you are in your career or business? If not, why not?
It’s also a great time for conversation about needs, desires and dreams with one another.
Without this revisit, sometimes the anxiety, frustration or bitterness leads to self-isolation, mates become disconnected and children grow up without engagement. People end up facing a new stage and no longer know one another.
We are who we are everywhere. So, becoming more present and engaged as a parent, mate, close friend, sharing your concerns and inviting theirs opens new possibilities, ideas and often direction, even sense of meaning and greater purpose.
Sometimes people realize they need to attend to these relationships more actively and this is re-energizing in a way that is different from work life, but can also benefit and enhance feelings of connection and purpose in work life.
The Career and Business Development Cornerstone
Within the context of three other cornerstones, Career and Business Development remain important but take their rightful place as part of a whole. A whole life context—including head-on acknowledgement of current life stage and the arc of this story and potential arcs to come—also puts things in a broader perspective.
Input, conversations with mate, family, close friends brings up where greater attention may be needed in the personal life to balance the career or business focus.
Future vision may chart a new or unexpected pathway to pursue now as you work toward your next stage. When attended to, each cornerstones can gives the career and business focus greater purpose and context. Revisiting all four cornerstones helps to map a short-term and long-term more meaningful career development
Putting It All Together
Taking the time to revisit your four cornerstones does require some self-time. It’s different than feeling alone, isolated or lonely in your work-life though if you infuse it with the activities, conversations and reconnections recommended above.
Putting the next steps all together out of revisiting the four cornerstones often requires new thinking, facing gaps and new challenges as you create your next new reality, rather than being the victim or passive by-stander to your career or business development going sideways instead of upward.
And just likeAstronaut Scott Kelly wasn’t all alone in his space capsule for his 365 days in space—or upon his re-entry, shifting from earthlife to living in space and back again, you do not need to go it alone as you put it all together, expanding from a myopic focus on career to creating a whole satisfying life. Reach out for the support you need.
Dr. Jan Hoistad
Dr. Jan Hoistad is passionate about helping professionals, business owners, partners, and teams develop the skills necessary to achieve success and fulfillment in both their occupational pursuits and personal lives.
She’s advised countless business owners, CEO’s, executives, business group heads, emerging leaders, partners, teams, and professionals in career transition and business development, teaching them how to dig deep, and sometimes loosen up, so they can start living by their values, finding their purpose, and achieving their professional and personal goals with intent and confidence.
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