“There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction,” John F. Kennedy
Allow me to preface this article by saying that when I talk about advancing professionally, I’m not referring exclusively to getting a promotion or starting your own company.
Climbing the corporate ladder is, of course, a form of professional advancement, but there are other forms as well. Growth can mean mastering (and applying) new skills, introducing new systems that benefit the company, increasing your contribution to the bottom line, and so much more.
If you feel that you’ve stopped growing (or never started), then you might fall into one or more of these categories.
You do the bare minimum
You know your job description by heart and will not lift a finger beyond what you were hired to do. Perhaps you see it as unnecessary to go above and beyond, perhaps you don’t know you should, or perhaps you’re just inspired in your current role. Whatever the reason, this approach will jeopardize your learning and prevent your from establishing yourself as the go-getter/leader type. The result? You’ll stay exactly where you are professionally.
You’re surrounded by mediocrity
Quotes and studies abound about how we are who we surround ourselves with. This is true on both personal and professional levels. If you’re part of a company or department or team that is characterized by mediocrity, not by excellence, then it will be all too easy to fall into a complacent mindset, keeping you exactly where you are.
You’re afraid of failure
Many people who dream of starting their own business don’t because they’re afraid of failure, and many people who dream of advancing professionally don’t for the exact same reason. You might be afraid to ask for more responsibilities, afraid to shake things up, or afraid of stepping on someone else’s toes. Forgive me for this, but let’s take a moment and step back into high school lit. In the wise words of William Shakespeare, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose to the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” Unless you’re in an environment that will unjustly punish you for trying and failing, push past your doubts and attempt new things.
You Won’t Switch Jobs, Even When It’s Time
There usually comes a time when changing jobs is necessary to advance your career. As with any major life decision, it can be intimidating. First you have to get a job you want, then you have to leave behind your colleagues, job security, and day-to-day comfort to which you’ve grown accustomed. At your new job, you start all over again, trusting from your interviews that you’ll enjoy the work, get along with your new coworkers, and be moving up in the professional world. Even with all of this in mind, there comes a time when it’s necessary to push beyond your resistance to change.
The moral of this story? If you’re uninspired, surrounded by mediocrity, in a job that punishes you for trying, or have maxed out your potential in your current position, then it’s time to search for a new job.