Do you remember when you left school and were excited to start a new job, thinking you had left exams behind you?
You may never have to write another exam, however you can be tested on your job every day. Your peers and boss will judge you. How you react to various situations at work can have an impact on your career.
Professional development on the job is NOT just about where you see yourself five years from now, or what position you will hold then. Learning is a continuous process. When you take the time to observe yourself, you have the opportunity to transform as a person and to experience growth – on both a professional and personal level.
Knowing others is intelligence.
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength.
Mastering yourself is true power. – Lao Tzu
Here are five ways for you to use your job to transform as a person:
1. Evaluate yourself often.
Some companies offer annual employee reviews where you fill out a form for self-evaluation, and then meet with your supervisor to discuss areas of improvement. Why wait to evaluate yourself once a year? Learning and development takes time, and growth is a process of small steps.
You can evaluate yourself often – even daily – or in the moment. Notice how you react to others when things are going well, compared to how you handle stressful times. Is your mood dependent on outside circumstances? Can you find something to be grateful for even when things aren’t going well?
Noticing how you feel allows you to take stock and acknowledge when you have done well. It also helps you to identify areas where you could improve upon or grow.
2. Step outside of your comfort zone.
Sometimes, your job will take you outside of your comfort zone. When you are feeling uncomfortable, it’s often a sign that you’re on the verge of transformation.
Think of something in your job that you have considered trying, but are feeling apprehensive about. For example, do you have an opportunity to try something new, such as training others, or speaking at a conference?
When you put yourself outside of your comfort zone and try something new, you will learn from the experience. You may even discover a new talent that you didn’t know you had!
3. Engage with others.
You can learn more about yourself by engaging with other people. Interacting with your co-workers allows you to find out more about them, their ideas, and values.
Seek out and have conversations with people whom you might not have spent time with previously. Keep an open mind that you will learn new things, and may even have your own views challenged.
Opening yourself up to new perspectives stimulates your creativity and encourages growth. It will help you to become more discerning in your own ideas, values and needs.
4. Figure out what you don’t want.
Whether you are just starting out in your career, or you’re already a veteran, your professional needs will change over time. You may have enjoyed a particular position for some time, and find that you are no longer feeling challenged or fulfilled. There may be certain tasks that you dread doing each day.
This doesn’t mean that you will drop all undesirable tasks immediately. If you are spending most of your working day performing tasks that you do not enjoy, it signifies time for a change – either within the company, or it’s time to move on altogether.
By identifying what you DON’T want, you get clarity on what you DO want. When you figure this out, it’s time to ask for what you need.
5. Ask for what you need.
You get to choose your path. If you are in a good company, your manager will support you when you ask for what you need. You are directing your career, nobody else.
Your needs can be short or long-term. Perhaps you need support on a particular project because you are working long hours and need a break. Or maybe you see yourself heading in a direction that you had not intended and it’s time to switch course.
Learning is a life-long process. As you spend much of your time working, you have ample opportunity to learn more about yourself.
Too often, people start out on a path to reach a particular position in their career or to obtain a certain salary. When they get there, they become complacent. With complacency, you don’t allow yourself to reach your full potential.
Challenging yourself, learning from others, and being clear on your own needs will facilitate your transformation. Regular self-evaluation will set you on a clear path to maximize achievement, allowing for growth along the way.