Just four years ago that I thought my career was over.
I remember the exact moment well: There I sat in my drab, mundane-looking cubicle, which sat in the middle of a rather large call center. Most days I could drown out the noise.
However, on that day, the sound of what seemed like 1,000 simultaneous conversations going on left me unable to focus. I sat there with my head buried in my hands.
You see, I had just realized at that very moment that the company I had recently joined was far more dysfunctional than the one I had just left.
This wasn’t the first time I had left a job to go to another company in hopes of greener grassonly to end up being worse off than I was before. I was depressed and unhappy to think that a career that only a few years before had looked quite promising was in jeopardy of going nowhere, and I felt like a complete failure.
I needed to do something to change the course I was on, and it wasn’t simply to change companies again. I attribute reversing my career path to five things.
1. Take ownership of your career
Up until that point, I had been quick to blame external factors for my unhappiness and the shortcomings in my career. I put the blame on things like bad management, company policy, poor timing, etc.
The result is that I stopped improving as a professional, and if I’m honest, I probably regressed a bit.
Making a change in your career is tough. However, perhaps the hardest part is admitting that you need to change yourself to make the career change you desire.
2. Be bold and take risks
If doing things the way you’ve always done them has gotten you to the point in your career where you’re feeling like a failure, it’s time to try something new and bold.
For me, that was starting a blog. Before I started my blog on LinkedIn just over two years ago, the only people who had ever read my writing were my college professors and my mother.
In fact, there was almost nobody from my inner circle telling me I should start a blog. I decided to do it anyway.
Can a blog change your career? After a few of my blog posts went viral on LinkedIn and received over a million page views, I began to get offers to write professionally, which led to the start of my company and the career path I’m on now.
3. Continue your education
For me, that meant getting an MBA at age 39. I needed additional skills and knowledge to move ahead in my career.
I reached the point where I was no longer learning in my position. I needed an outside source to inspire me to develop the new skills I lacked, which was preventing me from reaching my career goals.
You don’t have to pursue a fancy degree from a formal institution. In today’s online world, there are all sorts of ways to further your learning and gain the skills you need to move ahead: certificate programs, short-term courses, webinars, online learning programs, etc.
4. Become entrepreneurial
You don’t have to quit your day job! However, if you’re like I was and you feel stuck in a position where your skills are being underutilized, consider doing some consulting work or starting a side business.
Doing so could lead you to several positive career outcomes: additional income, added skills that you can use to gain a more fulfilling position, or a successful startup that ultimately replaces your corporate job.
5. Get social
Before I invested in social media, I was always the one reaching out to people about opportunities. My networking activities were 100 percent outbound-based.
Once I started to grow my online community and produce insightful content, a significant shift occurred: People began to contact me. In fact, all of the business for my company has come from my online activities. Instead of me always being the one to initiate contact, now people regularly seek me out to discuss opportunities.
While my career journey is far from complete, I now feel as though my work is appreciated, meaningful, and fulfilling. I’ve stopped blaming external factors and switching jobs when things don’t go my way.
I finally realized that when it comes to my career, the grass is as green as I make it.