The “Growing Pains” of Success
According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, growing pains is a harmless condition—cause unknown—that affects 10-20 percent of all growing children and most often occurs in children ages 3-12.
Symptoms include pain in legs (calves and thigh), typically during evening or nighttime and treatments range from heating pads to mild nonprescription pain medications. Yet, the biggest treatment for growing pains is perseverance. Like the common cold, if children experience growing pains they’ll just have to allow nature to run its course and their bodies to get through it.
And whether or not you believe such a condition exists in developing adolescents, one thing is certain—life has growing pains. Whether it be with relationships, academically or physically, at some point in time we all experience difficulties as we grow to reach a certain level of maturity in the different areas of our lives. And our careers are no exception.
Everyone has goals and desires to achieve them; we all have our own definition of success. And as we work to fulfill this definition it is then that we inevitably experience the many growing pains of success. Below are just five common “growing pains” people encounter on the road to success and tips on how to handle them once you cross their paths:
Signs Symptoms: People “talking down” to you on the job; exclusion of your thoughts and ideas due to your age or years of experience (especially if both are low numbers); total disregard for your credentials and/or accomplishments, e.g. questioning the validity of your online degree or training; insults to your intelligence, competence and capabilities, especially due to age, sex, disability and/or religion
Treatments: You must remember that people will only treat you how you allow them to. If you do not demand respect, many people you encounter won’t be so willing to offer it. Take pride in who you are, your skills sets and accomplishments on the job. If you’re 22 and a recent college grad, do not be intimidated by older workers or those with a longer tenure. Likewise, if you’re a woman working on a team full of men, don’t be nervous. You have your position for a reason and bring something unique to the table, just like every other employee. Share your ideas, be firm with your demands and address anything you feel discriminates or disrespects you as a worker and individual.
Signs Symptoms: Friends and coworkers going down a different career path than your own; new job in a new city; unsupportive friends or colleagues pertaining to your goals; decreasing or lack of resources
Treatments: Sometimes our chosen career path becomes lonely, especially if you’re hopes and dreams are different from the “norm.” You may be met with adversity and naysayers telling you “Your dreams are too big,” “It will never happen,” and/or “You don’t have what it takes.” This point in your life may feel lonely and isolated as you head in a direction no one else is willing to go, but keep pressing forward. Remember, eagles fly alone.
Signs Symptoms: Difficult to meet people at work; unable to relate to coworkers because of age and lifestyle differences; non-sociable, feeling awkward, uncomfortable and lonely in new settings; moving away from friends/family for work-related opportunities
Treatments: As we grow, people will enter and leave our lives; some will stay for the entire course. Creating professional relationships with your coworkers may feel uneasy at first, especially if you’re on the shy side, but it is essential to getting over this growing pain. Not only will it make this stage in your life easier to deal with, you may come out with some invaluable connections and new friends.
Signs Symptoms: Plan “A” fails; nothing is going according to plan; feelings of inadequacy as you question your ability to succeed; facing obstacles, setbacks and roadblocks
Treatments: One thing we all know is that life never goes according to plan. The obstacles you face on the path to success are certainly growing pains, but it’s how you react to them that is key. Being able to adapt when life throws you a curve ball is dire to your future success. You failed the MCAT and won’t be attending medical school this year, now what? Your first attempt at opening a new business didn’t work out; what will you do now? Try alternative routes, retake exams, apply for that opening again next year: Whatever you have to do to keep pursuing your goals, do it even if it’s not what you’d planned.
Signs Symptoms: Finding your job unfulfilling; desire a new position/career development; discriminated against in workplace; unethical work place; draining, stressful, toxic work environment
Treatments: Knowing when to leave your job on your path to success can be difficult. Some workers find themselves in very toxic and unhappy working situations, but have not decided to leave due to financial reasons, lack of future employment, or just plain old fear of consequences.
Evaluate your current work situation and the pros and cons of leaving and staying. Be honest in your assessment and consider your values. A part of advancement is knowing when to close the door on one experience to open the door for the next.