On the surface, your career seems to be on track. Your resume looks fine, and you’ve been steadily toiling away in your industry since you finished your education. You may have one or two gaps or lateral moves in your history, but you’re working now, and you’re working every day in a field that’s relevant to your long-term plans. Plus, you’re earning a decent living, so you’re getting paid every day to do something you love — or at least like. Your days may be similar, and you may check out mentally after completing the minimum, but overall, you’re fine.

…Or are you? Before you slip into a state of complacency and allow a few years to glide past, stop and check yourself. If your days are identical and you aren’t deeply engaging with your day-to-day projects, take a minute to re-evaluate your situation before you undermine your long-term career. Here are a few simple moves that can keep you in the driver’s seat.

Learn and grow.

What new things about your industry have you learned since last year? What new software platforms have you started using? What new techniques and tools have you mastered? If you can rattle off a list of all the ways you’ve grown and the new skills and knowledge you’ve acquired since last year, great. But if you can’t think of a single thing you’ve learned or gained, get busy. Start teaching yourself a new skill, even if it means you must ask your boss to sign you up for a training program.

Connect and engage.

You probably have at least a few friends at work, and if you’re like most employees, you have a more-or-less cordial and trusting relationship with your boss. But who else are you reaching out to? Do you actively seek mentoring relationships or make an effort to eat lunch with people outside of your department? Can you name someone in your social circle who you’ve added since last year? Keep the network of faces around you growing and changing. Take every opportunity to learn more about other people and make friends—or at least work friends—wherever you go.

Perform regular gut-checks.

With each year that goes by, you change as a person. You develop new traits and interests while shedding or outgrowing old ones, and your personality, desires and goals shift, even as you rush forward in pursuit of them. So, every year—or even every day, starting today—look inward and make sure the dreams and goals in your sights are still the ones you care about. If you need to change course, put the change into action sooner rather than later. Stay aware of who you are and what you want.

Don’t just drift where the currents take you; control the growth and direction of your career and move forward with purpose. Turn to the Milwaukee job search professionals at Extension for guidance and support.


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