May 31, 2015
Is Your Career Ripening the Way You Want?
5 tips to keep your career growing & flourishing
Think of your career as a tomato plant. You pick out the seed or plant you want and get it into the ground; you fertilize it, nurture it and watch it grow. Sometimes the fruit gets some blight on it and other times it flourishes with wild abandonment, maybe even over-shadowing everything else. Come harvest time, you are either rolling in wheelbarrow loads of ripe tomatoes, or looking at a few pathetic green tomatoes and searching for that fried green tomato recipe.
It’s all down to the seeds or plant you chose in the first place, how you nurtured the plant throughout its growing cycle and the luck of Mother Nature.
Kind of like your career. Most likely the field you chose set you on a career path; how you were able to nurture your career development over the years probably had a lot to do with whether it took off and flourished and/or blocked out everything else in your life. Along the way, Mother Luck no doubt played her hand, perhaps several times for good or bad. And finally, come harvest time, you will either be satisfied that the rewards you have gathered will see you through the winter of your life, or have you scrambling to figure out how to fry green tomatoes!
What are your top tips to keep your career growing and flourishing, but not stifling everything else out, and also give you the best shot at a good harvest? You know that I want to share mine!
- Variety is the spice of life – think about whether you want the same old garden variety for your career or do you want something exotic? Will you grow your career in your back yard or take it to an exotic locale?The only thing that ever worked for me was to mix it up: finding opportunities to keep plying my trades (yes, more than one) close to home, and also seizing every opportunity to find a new spot in another city or country to put down roots for a while. And here’s the thing: they are not mutually exclusive. You can easily grow your career in an exotic locale for a few years and return to find fertile ground closer to home. And while it is trickier to transplant your career in mid-growth or even late in life, it can be done.
- Sometimes you have to nip things in the bud – ever get yourself into something and realize shortly in that you made a mistake? I have done that lots of times and made tons of mistakes, most of which I managed to learn from. The only regrets I have are for the times when I didn’t cut off a bad situation when it was budding, as opposed to letting it grow and cause me even more problems later on. Something doesn’t look or feel healthy? Chances are it is not and maybe you should cut it off now.
- Keep it well fertilized – a healthy dose of fertilizer can help your career grow, but it can also burn you. This sometimes shows up as “getting too big for your britches” or hubris. Take everything about your career seriously; just don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s the difference between self-confidence and arrogance.I am grateful to my friends and colleagues who have helped me keep my career well fertilized but also warned me when I was doing damage to others or myself. Find those folks in your life and enlist their help.
- Maintain healthy pruning – one of the secrets to growing tomatoes lies in brutal pruning. If you don’t cut back the “suckers” and trim the branches from time to time, you will have rapid growth but no fruit in the end.In my career, that has sometimes meant eliminating toxic people from my work world or simply saying “no” to a client that would have pushed my workload to an unhealthy level. It is also about noticing when something is no longer serving who you are now. As an example, once I got to the point where being a sponsorship marketing expert was simply not what I wanted to do with my life anymore, some serious pruning took place.
- Green tomatoes are ok! – maybe this year you won’t be making buckets of red tomato sauce for the winter and you truly do have to get inventive with all of those unripened green tomatoes. It’s ok! Every year in your career does not have to be a ripe tomato year and in fact some of the best years of harvest can be when you have to improviseMind you, if you get too many years when your career is not ripening properly, you may want to take a harder look at 1-4 above!
With apologies for all of the garden analogies, I wish you a happy growing season for your career and your garden!