This might be my shortest blog ever (at least since the first one years ago), but I wanted to get everyone thinking about professional organization memberships and, in particular, professional conferences. If the conference is well designed (keeps members’ needs in mind, for instance), with on-target workshop sessions and plenty of between-session networking opportunities, it can be worth much more than your financial investment.
I just returned from a 3-day conference hosted by Career Directors International (my second since I joined about a year ago). Yes, it was in Orlando, Florida, home of Disney and other attractions, but I didn’t get more than a 15-minute walk from the hotel the whole time I was there. Why? Because the days were packed with valuable information and networking. It will probably take me weeks or months to fully absorb what I learned from it and put what I learned into practice on behalf of current and future clients. The financial investment I made was substantial, as it included airfare coast-to-coast, hotel room (shared with one colleague), the conference registration itself, and the cost to board my two small dogs for several days. Oh, and it also meant–technically, at least–no direct income for the week.
However, it was totally worth every dollar! And, probably not coincidentally, October looks like being one of my best months ever, despite the one-week hiatus.
If you have a chance to join a professional organization and attend one of its conferences, give serious thought to taking advantage of the opportunity. It can be very useful both in leveraging your existing situation for career advancement and in making your current or next job search more productive. Naturally, you’ll want to check out the organization carefully and take a good look at its conference reputation. Does it get favorable–even excited–reviews from previous participants? What does it offer that you probably can’t get or at least can’t get all in one place on your own? And so on.
P.S. I have a big trip planned around mid-2014 for personal reasons, so I’ll be looking hard at possible conference attendance and evaluating it carefully, but the odds are pretty good that I’ll be at CDI again next fall. There’s a good reason for that.
At least once or twice in the past I’ve written about some aspect of career sabotage–that is, when you have sabotaged your own career, not when someone else has done it to you. The topic came to mind again today when I read an article called “5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Career Success” by Avery Augustine.
The thing is, you’re probably more likely to spot it when someone is doing it to you than you are when you are the “culprit.” Why is that? For one thing, because we tend to take for granted the things we do and not question them too closely unless a specific situation or person forces us to. Awareness is critical. We need to be as clued-in as possible to what’s happening that could torpedo our career and take corrective action to prevent it, whether we’re the one doing it or not.
What Are the 5 Ways You’re Sabotaging?
According to Augustine, they are (briefly):
- Not Exploring the World Outside Your Department
- Not Applying for That Promotion
- Talking Yourself Out of an Internal Move
- Saying No to Big (but Scary) Opportunities
- Refusing to Ask for Feedback
Outside Your Comfort Zone
What do those 5 ways have to do with career sabotage and your comfort zone? Each one of them could easily require you to go outside your comfort zone in some way or other. For example, exploring what’s going on outside your department might involve talking with people you don’t know well about what they’re doing and, maybe, volunteering to help with one of their projects when you have time. Some of you might feel uncomfortable putting yourself forward like that.
It’s pretty much the same with the other four ways to sabotage your career. Here are just a couple of additional examples:
- You can hesitate to apply for a promotion because (a) you don’t think you have a chance against the competition or (b) you’re not sure you’re up to the challenges you’d face if you got the promotion.
- You can refuse to solicit feedback on how you’re doing because you’re afraid someone will say “not so good”! Of course, this means you won’t get input that could help you become even better at what you do and thus be able to blow the competition out of the water when you have a chance to apply for that promotion.
No Risk, No Reward
It’s probably true that there’s no reward without some risk. At least, it’s true often enough that it’s worth keeping in mind. Remember, too, that while you might need to go outside your comfort zone to avoid career sabotage–or even to boost your career success, you don’t have to leap off a 500-foot cliff your first time out. As General George Patton once said, “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”
The key here is that you are already incurring a risk by not evaluating what you might be inadvertently doing to sabotage your career and then taking action to correct it. If the goal is worthwhile, remind yourself of that and step outside your comfort zone to achieve it, if that’s what it takes.
P.S. I might not be doing any posts next week (October 14-18) because I’ll be preparing for and attending a professional careers-related conference for a few days, put on by Career Directors International. However, I expect to come back with plenty of food for thought and maybe the idea for a blog post or two!
Here we are at the beginning of October, with the end-of-the-year holiday period not quite staring us in the face but close enough to inspire some thought about what’s next for us. If someone said to you now, “You should consider leaving your current job in the near future,” would your reaction be “Leave my job now? Are you crazy?!!!”
Mind you, I’m not exactly advocating that you should leap into the unknown and chuck your current job (if you have one) without having something else (better) already lined up. I believe in taking calculated risks, but that’s not one. I’d describe that as not much better than sticking your finger in a flame to see if it hurts!
On the other hand, as I’ve noted before, a lot of you are less than thrilled with your current employment situation, and some of you might be downright miserable in it. That said, I don’t recommend stewing about it for the remaining 3 months or so of this year. Think about it, yes, but then start putting some plans into action.
Considering a Career Change
Maybe you’re already considering a change but thinking in terms of changing careers and not just your current job. If so, you’re not alone. According to a MoneyWatch post by Margaret Heffernan, titled “Thinking of a career change? Don’t delay,” there’s a lot to be said for making a change sooner rather than later.
As Heffernan says, “Everyone I’ve ever known who made a big transition had left it later than they should. Between mild discontent and raging frustration, about a year of unproductive ambivalence passed. Afterwards, when a jump has been successfully negotiated, everyone looked back and asked, what took me so long?”
Choose the Timing to Leave Your Job
As long as you have the option (you’re not facing a mandated job change/loss), you can choose the timing for leaving your current job, at least to some extent. Maybe it’s not a great idea to target a change before the end of this year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t set things in motion, especially since events don’t always move as quickly as you might think or hope. If you use the coming months to prepare wisely, you’ll be in a much better place for making the change early in the new year–I can almost guarantee that.
And who knows? You might be surprised to find a new opportunity staring you in the face much faster than you expected, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that–as long as you’ve done your homework and preparation as thoroughly as you should, so you’re poised to respond appropriately. For example, if you’re considering the possibility of a geographical relocation and that would mean things like selling your current home and finding a new one in the new area, that’s not a small task to accomplish over a holiday period. You’ll need to have your ducks in a row as much as you can before that occurs.
Whatever happens, avoid letting job or career frustration drive you to a premature job departure. You might get really lucky and have it work out okay, but maybe not. Make sure you’re doing it at the right time and for the right reasons.