Q. I've been in my industry for 15 years and am really unhappy about where I am in my career. I look around and see people who started out with me doing much better. I figure I must be making mistakes that they aren't. I spend a lot of time at work trying to figure out why I'm not at the top of my industry. How can I stop being so miserable?
A. You can stop being so miserable by realizing that other people's jobs are a lot like other people's marriages; you really can't know the actual experience of other people from the outside looking in.
Most of the clients I talk to in the middle of their careers are miserable not because of what they have accomplished but because of what they believe they should have accomplished. When we compare where we are and who we are to our ideals, all of us feel inadequate.
Ambition is a fine attribute when we are inspired to take intelligent risks and make difficult changes in how we operate. When your ambition gets you to have honest conversations with your management about what you need to learn or do to get ahead, bravo! If instead of focusing on your next goal, you focus on your global sense of inadequacy, your ambition is a hindrance and not a help.
Quit focusing your attention on the 5 percent of people in your industry who are the tiny minority. Realize that they may have had multiple advantages you cannot access. They may be related to people who promoted them, they may be married to people who helped them, and they may have had blind dumb luck to be in the perfect place at the perfect time.
All your explanations at present for your current career conditions are about you "screwing up" and not that the exceptional 5 percent may have had opportunities you didn't.
The power you do have is to look at the majority of people in your industry and see where you'd like to go. Then to meet with your boss, evaluate your current job, and see what you can do right now to better your future.
We all tend to believe the grass is greener on the other side. Unfortunately, that prevents us from growing where we are planted because we stop seeing the opportunities right in front of us.
Blaming ourselves is equally useless. Whether we actually made mistakes in the past or just believe we've made mistakes, the critical decision is to be more interested in fixing our present than ruminating about our history.
The last word(s)
Q. Is there any good technique to avoid getting to the point where I want to smack some of my co-workers? I am so tired of telling them things I consider obvious!
A. Yes, use your irritation to immediately speak up when you see a coworker setting up a problem.
Don't wait until you are ready to blow your top.
have a question?
Contact Daneen Skube at email@example.com or c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.
(c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.
Original headline: accurate expectations generate job satisfaction
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