From saying yes to tasks beyond your comfort zone, to building your network really well, these pro tips will truly help your career progress.
I completed 8 years with my organization earlier this month. The realization feels surreal. I vividly remember my first day at work. As I stood outside, I looked up at the tall building with excitement and nervousness – ecstatic at where I’d landed. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would get to where I am today. Things did not go my way many times, but I made it work.
Everyone undertakes a different journey with a different goal in mind. Two people in the same environment end up with different experiences. Many factors affect the kind of work we do. So we should never compare ourselves with others. It’s fair to measure our progress from where we started and where we are heading towards. I might not have had the most sensational career progression, but I’m thrilled when I look back on my journey.
I’m grateful to everyone who believed in me and gave me a chance to prove myself. I’ve worked on some exciting initiatives and grateful for all the opportunities that came my way. When I look back, some prominent learnings have helped me in many situations. I’d like to share a few lessons from my journey.
I like to add variety to my life. Even if I’m good at something, I get bored doing the same thing repeatedly. I’ve been lucky to find teams where I could push the boundaries of what a person in my role could do.
If there is one thing I’ve learned – it’s never to say no to any work because it seems ‘boring’ or it’s beyond your scope. As a rule, I always give it some time – say 3 months or depending on how long it would take to get used to it. Some things have an exciting start but get boring after the routine sets in. The vice versa is also true.
This way, I’ve been able to explore many aspects of my role rather than restricting myself to standard expectations. The best part is how it has helped me immensely in my later roles. I never thought they would come in handy. When I talk about my experience, it paints a very impressive picture – for the sheet variety of work I’ve done. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be the King/Queen of whatever you’re doing. I’m only saying that doing a bit of everything adds a lot more value than you would think.
If there is one thing I hate about feedback, it’s about having to analyze if it applies to you. While I do appreciate feedback for the value it adds to help us grow, not everything people say may apply to you.
To make the best out of the feedback you receive, you should know yourself well. I have a work-in-progress sheet that lists everything I’m good at, things I am working on to improve and the things that I’m bad at.
It is definitely not easy to write this down. Trust me – I’ve struggled with this for many years. But once I put them down, it’s easy to work my way. So when feedback doesn’t align with any area from my WIP list, I discard it. This saves you the trouble of second-guessing yourself. Of course, this is not a fool-proof way. My ego might come in the way and prevent genuine feedback from getting added to my spec, but you learn with time.
I’ve worked on many critical projects in my career. Many days, I’ve stressed myself out – for nothing, if I may say so in hindsight. During one such phase, my manager saw me stressing out and called me aside to ask what was bothering me. I told him everything that was bothering me and the never-ending tasks on my To-do list. After listening to me, he appreciated my dedication but asked me not to try and control everything.
He said, “Some things will work out and some won’t. That’s something we need to live with. All we can do is give our best shot and wait for things to take its course. After that, there is no point in stressing out on things beyond our control.”
I’m the kind of person who dots the I’s and crosses the t’s. It was difficult to accept it, but the sooner I did, the less stressed I was. Believe me, everything might seem like a deal-blocker with huge consequences. As long as you’ve done your best, you should accept that there is nothing more you can do and wait. And pray.
You always need a plan. You can customize any plan to suit your needs, but you need one. Things were manageable when I used to work on one initiative. But for a few years now, I’ve always worked on multiple initiatives in parallel. And if you happen to be the point of contact, you mustn’t get lost among everything that’s going on.
It’s necessary to be able to provide a high-level view of what’s going on, and if required dive deep into each of them. So, I write everything down. I take notes for myself and for the minutes for every session I attend. And I follow up diligently. I have a customized template I use for my To-do list. This works for me, but may not work for everyone. As long as you have a system to figure out things, prioritize, and follow up, you’ll be fine. And do not attempt to multi-task. That’s the biggest threat to productivity.
I was never a big fan of networking with colleagues in an out-of-office environment. As I moved up in my career, I realized the importance of forming a good rapport with people you work with. Spending time with people, learning about them and understanding what they do, helps me collaborate better.
We have an internal social collaboration platform through which I made many work-friends outside my teams. From Global heads to people making waves in the organization, I could talk to so many of them. I’ve met many people, listened to their experiences, and received guidance about my career path. It’s fascinating to meet like-minded people who share the same wavelength and to connect with them. Nothing comes close to such conversations!
I could keep writing more, but these are my Top 5 Learnings over the years. They have had a great impact on my professional life. I’ve had an interesting journey – from the kind of roles I worked on and the kind of teams I worked with. I’ve made many mistakes along the way and learned a lot from those mistakes. I’ve switched paths often to find work that I’m passionate about. And I’ve been lucky every single time.
It’s not every day that what you want to do and what you’re good at aligns well. But when they do, you know there never is a dull moment.
Here’s to many more years!
First published at author’s blog
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A Blogger from Chennai, now in Sydney, Australia. I like writing about experiences, life lessons,
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