Developing Your Career Part 2–Remain Active

This is part 2 of a 5 part series on growing your career.

How do you know if you’ve “arrived”? 

Have you “made it”? 

Do you consider yourself successful?

Do you need to do more?

These are questions that everyone will ask themselves at some point throughout their lives.  The key to answering these questions is to define exactly what “it”, “arrived”, or “success” means to you.  Are you content with reaching a certain level or goal and staying there until retirement?  Do you continuously want more with each level you reach?  Some people are never happy or content and always want more.  Others are content where they are and do not try to go any further.  There is a delicate balance between being content with your life and always wanting to achieve more and remaining positive throughout the process. 

As we go through life, we should be continuously trying to improve all areas of our life, not just our career.  Personal relationships can always be improved no matter how old we are.  When we are blessed and lucky enough to have children, we are constantly learning new ways to interact and communicate with them to help them develop into productive individuals.  During this process, we learn so much about ourselves and how to deal with different personalities. 

With regards to our careers, we should strive for continuous improvement.  There is always something to learn.  It could be about the business or industry, a specific technical skill, or soft skills.  We can and should always be working towards growing our skills.  The more we know, the more value we can add to the company / business we are working for.  This may be a large corporation, a small startup, or a sole proprietorship.  In each instance, the company benefits from an employee’s increased knowledge.  By adding this value to the business, we can increase our salary, benefits, and overall have a better quality of life. 

One thing to keep in mind is the reason behind our learning.  It should really be centered around self-improvement versus envy of others or trying to “compete with the Jones’”.  If we can stay grounded and focused, then we can remain content with our current situation, while simultaneously working to improve it. 

Avoiding Burnout

We all go through times in our lives where we have so much going on, we don’t have time to stop and breathe.  If we continuously do this, then at some point, we will give out mentally, and possibly even physically.  We must keep a balance in our lives that allows for us to remain healthy and happy, so we can remain active.  The following tips will help with avoiding burnout.

  • Don’t overload yourself
  • Manage your stress level
  • Work Efficiently
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Exercise
  • Take a break / vacation
  • Separate your work and home life (critical if you work from home)

There will be times when you need to take a break.  You may choose not to learn anything new for the next few months technically.  Instead, you can replace that time with other leisure activities.  I don’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure, so when I do take a break, I normally read a few books back to book to keep my mind and imagination active while taking a break from technology. 

One of my favorite quotes and something I try to live by is from the movie the Shawshank Redemption – “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” This reminds me to continue to learn and try new things.  If you sit still, life, and your career will pass you by. 

Developing Your Career Part 1 – Who owns your career?

This is part 1 of a 5 part series on growing your career.

When it comes to the work place, who is in charge of your career?  Is it your manager, or is it you?

Many people that I have talked to have had differing opinions on this.  Many, when asked, had a puzzled look on their face and were not sure.  This doesn’t surprise me.  For example, when students are coming out of college, they have usually mastered the art of studying for exams, passing tests, etc.  They have been guided on what classes to take usually based on a course curriculum developed specifically for the discipline they are studying.  Everything has been laid out for them, all they were required to do was complete it.  There are some lingering questions that you must answer now, and may not even realize what the questions are.

For example:

What happens when that course isn’t defined for you any longer? 

What happens when you are released out into the work force and have so many options to choose from?

How do you know what skills you need to work on as you enter the work force and continue on in your career?

If you are lucky, you are able to get into a good organization or work for a manager or mentor that can help you define these things.  But remember, it is not your manager’s responsibility to grow your career.  That ownership belongs to you.  Don’t get me wrong, a good manager should and will help you, but in many situations, that isn’t guaranteed.  Which means the only person left is you.

The following key points are critical to successful career growth:

Take Ownership of your own career.

Remain Active and continue learning new things and growing your skill set.

Build quality relationships with everyone.

Remain positive in all situations.

Control your ego and go forth with humility.

I’m Back!!!

After a long sabbatical from blogging, I have decided to start up again.  My old blog was focused on my journey into becoming a software developer.  It was more technical in nature and helped me grow as a developer.  The focus for this blog is going to be multifaceted.  There will be technical topics, but also topics that focus on the business side of software development.  This includes concepts related to soft skills that everyone needs to go further in their career.