Finding the right path when trying to move forward with your career can be challenging. From the difficult subject of compensation increases, to knowing when you are ready to move up in a role, to refining the skill set you have; there are many stepping stones that have to be put in place in order to successfully move forward in your career. In this article series I provide tips as Senior Management for what I look for and what has been expected of me over the years to help you reach your professional and personal goals.
Making the Leap to Uncomfortable
In the last article I discussed the importance of getting out of your own way and becoming uncomfortable in order to succeed. “Easier said than done,” is the response I would have given before I had taken the leap. Where do you even begin? It can be a long process of questioning whether or not you can truly make that leap, doubting yourself and your abilities along the way.
We get in our way so much that we get stuck in the “how do I get there” phase and do not move passed it, therefore never discovering the excitement and passion we have for experiencing <insert next step for you>. Or maybe the passion is there but the mindset isn’t right, the risk is too great, or it’s too hard. Luckily, if you are wondering how to get started in the right direction, the first steps are straightforward.
That said, it is important to know when going into it that sometimes the most straightforward tasks are the hardest and the most important. Change is hard; making yourself uncomfortable even harder. Go into change with your eyes wide open knowing you will face challenges, but that you can conquer them. You are the biggest showstopper for your success.
Identify your boundaries
Your boundaries define your decisions, your experiences, and your life. They are what tells you not to jump off that cliff, or not to ask for that raise. It is easier to create boundaries than to deal with hurt, disappointment, grief, conflict, etc., and often that leads to more boundaries than necessary.
It is important to recognize that your boundaries may not be real. We all have them. We implement boundaries based not only on our experiences, but others’ experiences and recommendations, and what the media and television tells us about <topic>. We don’t legitimately dislike mushrooms - we just think we do because that’s how mom raised us. We don’t really want to be in debt with the giant house in suburbia, that’s just where the American Dream says we’ll find happiness so we create walls against any unconventional idea that does not fit.
We hold true to the type of person we think we are and define what we do and what boundaries we set based on that. What would happen if we let go of the requirement to always define ourselves in the way we’re most comfortable and started to think out of our self defined box?
Identifying your boundaries, whether firm or flexible, is key to moving forward. Often you can only discover where your true boundaries lie by starting to push on those boundaries, which leads us to the next step.
Push and/or eliminate your boundaries
Whether one step at a time or all at once, start pushing your boundaries. Have sound judgement - do not start off skydiving if you are afraid of heights (that works for some people, but not most). Instead, push yourself to try new things that make you feel and experience something that you were not willing to entertain before. Don’t break the boundary itself until you’ve spent some time identifying why you implemented it.
Throughout this process you will find that some things are not your cup of tea but the process of pushing back was not as brutal as expected. You may also find new boundaries you didn’t know you had, and current boundaries that are a “hell no we won’t go” kind of permanent double sided tape. The key is to know where you stand.
If your mind starts to get in your way, try Nike’s motto of Just Do It.
These two straightforward steps may happen over and over, together and apart, as you work through this process. The important part is to keep moving, stay focused, and fine tune your self awareness. By doing so, it will open your eyes to where you truly stand and help you see the limits you are placing on yourself and your career. Then you can get out of your own way and start making steps toward living your best life.
Want to have a conversation? I’d love to hear your story. Connect with me on LinkedIn.
Amanda Nystrom has been in the Open Source industry since 2009. Today she is a major stockholder and Senior Operations and Project Manager at Command Prompt, Inc.. Also a Co-Chair of the international Postgres Conference series, she is developing content and managing conferences for the nonprofit world with a focus on People, Postgres, Data. Amanda has a passion for providing tools and motivation for people in order to help them succeed professionally and personally.