Why It May Be Time For a Professional Reinvention
The new year is always a fabulous time to look at your career and visualize exactly what you would like it to be, then take the appropriate action(s) to make that vision a reality. I think more so than any other year I have fairly grand plans for my personal and professional life and I have taken the last week to really set some specific goals and actions/timelines for myself when it comes to achieving all that I want to achieve in 2018 and beyond. Last year I didn’t have a “plan” for the year and I was so busy straight out of the gate I never took stock of exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Even without a hyper-specific vision in mind for myself, some really fabulous things “happened” and these things continue to inspire me to keep up the work and hustle I have been fiercely enthusiastic about and diligently pursuing for the past two years.
After reflecting on 2017 I was able to really identify areas I was extremely proud of and wanted to continue to focus on this year and also I was able to consider and assess my regrettable experience of the year that I allowed to occur because I chose to take a safe path. It’s embarrassing to recollect this but in latter part of 2016 I took on a 12 month project that I just wasn’t excited about. It was predictable and stable for 12 months. That’s why I took it. It was an easy “get” for a gig. It was not something that made me better or challenged me during the 12 month time-frame – however, in hindsight I have grown significantly from the choice that I made and the lessons that I learned.
One of my big personal/professional initiatives this year is not to start anything that I feel even the slightest twinge of ambivalence around. If I am not completely passionate about it, I will not do it. This year I am going BIG with everything to magnify every opportunity and experience I have available to learn, grow, challenge, and enjoy myself thoroughly and without regret.
My silver-lining to my gloomy decision last year, I believe I needed to experience this in order to reevaluate, reinvent, and reinvigorate my professional commitment to myself to only invest my time doing things that I was passionate about and made me productive and a beneficial resource to the people and organizations I work with.
Signs A Reinvention Is Important
Quickly, there were a few very clear key indicators that I placed myself in an untenable position and should have had the presence of mind to extract myself. Here are the big ones:
- I Felt Profoundly “Stuck”: It completely bums me out to say this, but approximately two months into my 12-month project I felt stuck and impotent. Even feeling slightly “meh” about the project after the first quarter with them, I thought I could bring a fresh and new perspective to the business if I persevered. I was, consistently, met with a barrage of – “that won’t work here because…”, “that’s now how we do things”. When I would suggest eliminating processes that didn’t deliver any value to the business [and actually impeded it] or customer experience, I would hear…”but that’s how we’ve always done it and we have to keep ‘it’ in place”. Being an interminable optimist, I would try different approaches, repackage my ideas, collect statistics, and present my suggestions in a variety of ways for the first eight months – mostly to no avail.
- I Couldn’t|Wouldn’t Develop Long-Term Goals: My final four months was driven by just getting through the current project. Uncovering the little “wins” that quantified that my updates and processes were putting the organization on the right path were encouraging but I felt too alone to fight for what I knew was the right for the individuals in the business and – ultimately – the customer. I allowed that to be my reality and I regret that. The words “can’t” & “won’t”, nonsensical bureaucracy, executive hubris, and politicking mediocrity were the tenets of this organization. So much so, I would – at least – bi-weekly ask if the organization’s executives wanted to discontinue their contract with me [color me totally stunned when they actually wanted to extend it].
- I Lacked Both Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation: I firmly believe I am 100% responsible for my own motivation and happiness. I do not leave that to ANYONE else in my personal or professional life. I allowed this regrettable experience to excuse my lack of motivation when I should have used it as a catalyst to change my circumstance immediately or at least to be louder, more fearless, and use the environment to propel me to do what what I could have done to make the differences I wanted to make. I owned my failure in this experience and am committed to ensuring it is not something I ever will repeat. I didn’t even write as much which I actually really enjoy doing. In that 12 month period, I wrote only 17 articles [I have since written, in just four months, 26 articles].
- I Surrendered Control: After about the seventh month of my contract, I surrendered control of my confidence, my voice, and my professional standards|expectations for myself as it related to this project. I would come up with a really innovative and productivity-galvanizing idea and would deliver it in the most benign way as to not scare anyone with change initiatives. When I would be met with the predictable chorus of “that’s now how we do things” or “our people aren’t smart enough to execute this”, I would abandon the plan, catalog it, and – possibly even – share it with another organization that would utilize it. After about the eighth month I would talk myself out of surfacing anything other than improvements on their current processes and policies so as not to suggest “strategic change” but merely a ” strategic update”. I was angry, disappointed, and frustrated with myself.
I was so grateful and thoroughly excited when in June 2017 I was invited to a new consulting gig with an innovative, forward-thinking, smart, inclusive, open, and fun organization for six months. It was as if my professional life and enthusiasm was resuscitated. However, I allowed my regrettable experience to temporarily erode some of what had made me really successful as a consultant and leader and found myself not being as gritty, fearless, and confident as I instinctively am. I knew about one week into my new and fabulous gig I had to reinvent myself in order to deliver to my colleagues EXACTLY the person they were referred to invite on-board and were paying to have on their team.
5 Ways To Reinvent Your Professional Brand
- Really Assess What You Value: I took the time to truly determine what it is I value and how those thing align with my new project. I was able to identify an overwhelming alignment with their organization and their mission. Your values and their alignment with your organization are one of the greatest predictors of career satisfaction. Ranking and quantifying the things that are most important for your happiness in a career such as: creativity, integrity, innovation, collaboration, salary, balance, etc. The values list is endless and only you can identify and articulate what is important for your work environment and where you have some flexibility. Values also evolve with experience and time so what you seek in a workplace now may be very different from those you’ve held in the past.
- Rediscover & Re-Evaluate Your Passions: Knowing your passions and interests can help you identify fit when choosing a career. Interest and passion are also significant predictors in career selection and happiness since we naturally gravitate towards those things we like and enjoy. Are you creative? Are you analytical? Do you prefer structure or autonomy? Does your organization help or hinder you as you pursue your passion? Do they support or stall your growth and marketability? Do they support your creative process or demand compliance? Can you create powerful workplace relationships? You are the best champion for yourself and you need to live your best life each day…that means that you have to do something that likely will make you happy as to extract the most satisfaction and accomplishment from each day.
‘Authentic is defined as ‘of undisputed origin’. Authenticity therefore is to be of your undisputed origin. That means authenticity isn’t about what you wear or even your “personality.” Authenticity is who you are as a person at your core. [Source: InPower Coaching]
- Embrace Your Uniqueness: Personality refers to your unique patterns of mental, emotional, physical, and behavioral characteristics. Your personality preferences play a huge role in the types of work or work environments you may enjoy and thrive in or…not. The moment an organization wants to change your nature in any of these ways, it creates obstacles and unhappiness. Choosing an industry or workplace that allows you to be [and values] you being your authentic self – regardless of who that is, is worth it’s weight in gold. Knowing yourself and understanding the value you bring to the business will give you the confidence and courage to be unwavering in your standards and the organizational culture benefits from that as well.
- Assess Your Competencies & Skill Set: One of the most frustrating things about adult-ing is that you are catagorized endlessly. For example, if you kicked off your career in retail, you are a life-long retailer and good luck trying to break into other industries. Inside retail there is another banal challenge – you are categorized and candidate sourced as your previous experience in – for example – hard-lines, soft-lines, luxury, discount, big-box, specialty…you get the picture. Reinventing your candidate strategy to highlight your talents [in lieu of your work history] will benefit your ability to communicate and market yourself to other organizations or industries. A laundry list of past accomplishment & experience doesn’t tell your whole story. You need to be your biggest champion when it comes to you expertise & interests.
- Create Or Re-Create Your Brand: This is where the four previous points intersect. Market your unique combination of passions and talents. Model and create your story about why you are a valuable commodity to your current company or to a new one if your current company doesn’t value all that you have to offer and contribute.
Most everyone I meet and interact with has a great story and a fabulous background. If you feel stuck or unhappy with where you are or even if you find yourself feeling complacent – developing your brand will help you play to your strengths, work on areas where you aren’t the strongest through self-development, and help clarify what matters most to you.