by Deanna Parkton
Picture this. A twenty-two year old version of you is stressing out about their first professional job. If you could travel back in time, what would you tell them? Maybe it’s something like: “Don’t worry, it all turns out okay,” or “There were bumps in the road, but you could pay your bills every month and that’s something to be grateful of.” Or “You might not feel confident now, but you will end up leading the department in 7 years.” Maybe it is reflecting on hard situations: “This first job was rough but you learned a lot of important life lessons that you have taken with you. And that’s why you are so successful later in life.” Whatever your answer is, you probably have a perspective now that you did not have when you first started out.
Now picture this, twenty-two you flashes forward and sees where your life is at now. What might they say? Maybe it’s something like, “Look at this wonderful house you were able to buy. The hard work will be worth it.” Or “I know your job can be challenging, but look at the beautiful family and friends you have around you.” Or “I know times are tough right now, but you’ve had hard times before and you’ll get through this one too.”
As the wise Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
It is easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day and forget how far you have come, not only in life but your career. Taking time to stop and look around (including in the rearview mirror), we are able to see the big picture and gain some perspective.
Take a moment to remember how you felt during pivotal moments of your career. Maybe it was your first professional job. Or maybe it was your first leadership role. Did you feel uncertain or nervous? Did you feel confident but were naive to what lay ahead of you?
- What were some of your biggest career lessons?
Maybe when you look back, you realize how much you had to learn. Some of these lessons may have come through overcoming adversity, or overcoming mistakes. Maybe you made a mistake and had to come clean with your manager, or you had to clean up a mess with a client or colleague. While these situations can be painstakingly difficult in the moment, there was probably a big lesson in there that you have taken with you as you have continued in your career.
- What are some of your great successes?
Now think about the great things you have been able to do with your career. Maybe it’s helping people, whether it’s clients, customers, employees or colleagues. Maybe you have taken on a mentor role and helped others step into their confidence. Maybe you have redirected a department or an organization towards a better future. You have made a positive impact as you have moved through your career. Give yourself credit!
- What detours did you experience in your career?
Did you have to leave a job before getting a new one? Were there times of uncertainty in your next steps? Our career paths are often not a straight shot highway, and very often, a journey of detours, taking the back way or even stopping on the side of the road to look at the map.
By looking to the past, we can utilize our present in a more meaningful way.
By looking at our situation objectively, we can build a greater appreciation for the good and the bad. Life is not always rosy but you have come a long way. Take some time to reflect and give yourself a pat on the back!
When you have moments of feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with work and life, take a moment to find gratitude for how far you have come and the good things in your life as a result of your career.
If you are going through a hard time, remind yourself of all the other times you have handled challenges. How did you handle hard times previously? What worked and what did not? Take these lessons and apply them to a brighter future.
You have gotten this far, haven’t you? You got this.
For more ideas on how you can find resilience and perspective around your work, consider working with a career coach. A coach can help you identify strategies to face challenges head on. Check out our executive coaching services and sign up for a free consultation here.
Deanna Parkton is a writer, career coach and educator with a passion for professional development and work wellness and happiness. With a focus on self-reflection, she works with individuals in their quest to reach their career goals as well as satisfaction in work-life balance. You can find more of her writing at workinglivingwell.com and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.