Muslim woman wearing hijab, working on a laptop, career

It’s horribly cold as I write but there are some signs of spring here in the UK, dare I say.

Working from home guidance has been lifted and from my limited use of the trains and tube so far, they seem to be busy. Many are heading back to hybrid working. Hopefully that is it now for working pattern changes from the government.

How are you feeling about work and your career at this point? Many are not feeling as positive as they might after the last two challenging years when our lives have been thrown up in the air.

Thinking about their career has not been a priority for many people. The way we have interacted with colleagues, clients and other business contacts has seen a massive shift and the outcomes have not always been positive. For many, the outcome and impact aren’t yet certain.

Here are some indications that your career might need some attention:

  1. Feeling a sense of mild dread about work the evening before.
  2. Having a sense of being stuck in your role for a while and unsure what is next.
  3. Experiencing challenges getting everyday role tasks done.
  4. Lacking a sense of team and positive/supportive colleague relationships.
  5. Experiencing negative emotions about people/situations more frequently, usually combined with a lack of fulfilment/purpose.

If you have a sense of any of these, then it is time to put aside some time for your career. It doesn’t have to be days. I’d recommend starting with an hour and see how you get on. Pick a time when you will be undisturbed and do your best thinking. It’s often not good to do this sort of work in the middle of the day when your head is likely to still be in the work you have been doing and are yet to do later.

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Even if you think you know what the key challenges are, it can still be helpful to ask yourself some questions to make sure you are taking a step back. I hope these will help:

  1. How positive do I feel about my career out of 10?
  2. What are the key negative aspects (it’s important to try and distil them, you can only deal with them when they are broken down and without doing this, it feels like a pit of negativity)?
  3. Are any of those directly related to the recent situation and are likely to disappear with a new working pattern/less Covid?
  4. What actions can I take against the ones that are unlikely to disappear? Examples might include discussing your next career move with your line manager, getting clarity on your development areas (plus making a plan to work on them) and building relationships with another department/function with a view to making a lateral move or working more closely with them in your current role.

Once you have thought these through, make a list of what you think you need to do and plan short time blocks in your diary to work on one or two elements at a time. Avoid focusing on too much as you’ll get overwhelmed and end up taking no action.

I’d aim for a couple of hour-long diary blocks a week, at least then if you miss one, you have another in. The day before a block is in your diary, plan what you are going to focus on so you can use the time well.

It is vital to make time for working on your career and not just doing your day job. We spend too much time at work to not get some sense of fulfilment, even if that isn’t 100% of the time. If you need help working through those questions or want to discuss your answers, then arrange a no obligation conversation with me by emailing my Assistant.

To think further about your career and the often-neglected skills, click the button below to request my Nine Skills needed for career success. You get a PDF with a page on each skill.

Joanna GaudoinAbout the author

Joanna Gaudoin, Inside Out Image, specialises in helping ambitious professionals and their organisations improve performance and achieve their goals.

She does this by helping them master and strategically use the business skills of Personal Impact and Relationship Management. These skills are required for professional success.

Before establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy in large corporates. She understands the business world and its challenges. She now helps organisations and individuals understand how to succeed in it.

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