I was in the OnCenter in Syracuse, New York. I saw the escalator in front of me, and I needed a win. I was with a friend of mine and said, “I’m going to do this.” What the hell was I thinking?
I started to run up the down escalator. This was an average-sized escalator, and I start my run. Oh, and I was wearing my backpack to make it more difficult.
I’m 49 years old and have a few extra pounds on me. It’s not that I couldn’t do it, but I watch American Ninja Warrior, and I thought, why not?!?
Things were good at the start. I thought it was “easy.” I kept running and the closer I got to the top, the further the landing seemed to me. Then, I started to get a little winded. I started breathing heavier. I could feel my legs burn, but I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t about to stop and go all the way back down. I needed this win!!!
Then, I started feeling my heart pound in my ears. That was a new experience!
I was just a handful of steps away from the landing, and it seemed as if the escalator was moving faster. I was sooooo close!
Finally, I went for it. I jumped, and luckily, I made it to the landing.
My friend stood here in shock and couldn’t believe I did this.
When we got outside, and I was breathing heavily to try and catch my breath, he diligently watched me and made sure I didn’t pass out.
After a few minutes, I got my breath back and was fine. I relished the fact that I beat the escalator and accomplished my task. But it wasn’t easy.
Truthfully, if I wanted to get to the next level, I would have stepped on the escalator that was moving in the up direction. But I was a bit stubborn and thought I could make it work. I did but it wasn’t easy by any means, and it was stressful.
There are times in our career, where we try running up the down escalator to make something happen. We may get the result we want, but not without a lot of stress and anxiety, and more importantly, a lot of wasted energy.
So, if you are feeling like your career path is like you running up the down escalator, here are six helpful hints to make this process a bit easier to help you get where you want to be in your career.
Advocate for Yourself
Only you can truly advocate for what you want in your career. Know what you want and confidently know how that aligns with your core values. Be assertive in asking for what you want and need for your career to be successful. You will spend a good chunk of your life going to work. Wouldn’t it be great if you could go to work with enthusiasm because of the meaningful work you get to do, rather than hating it every day? Determine what your next advancement opportunity is an advocate for yourself.
Agreements are important contracts about what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Making agreements with colleagues and/or your boss can help build a relationship that is grounded in evidence-based feedback and most importantly, trust. When things are going smoothly, it’s an excellent opportunity to recall the agreement and why things are working. And when things are not going as well, it’s an even better time to have the conversation about the agreement and how to get back on track.
Value Feedback That is Rich and Meaningful
Seek opportunities that allow you to receive rich feedback that is designed to help you do your work more effectively. Feedback is given to either help you maintain your behavior or change it. It’s much easier to know where you stand once you had the proper feedback conversation. Ask the powerful and necessary questions to get the feedback you need. Asking questions such as, “How am I doing?” don’t give us the information we truly need. Be specific! Ask questions such as, “I was hoping you could give me some feedback on my performance on the recent project assignment you asked me to complete. What can you tell me about the quality of my report?” will give you much better feedback.
Identify How Important Things Are
When things get you stressed, take a moment and ask yourself about its importance. Putting those things that stress us out in the proper place can be a good use of your energy. Often we worry about things we can’t control. Speculating isn’t going to help make the situation better. If something is important to you, elevate it to that place of importance. If it isn’t that important to you, let it go.
Ask for What You Need
I have a friend of mine who set an intention for an entire weekend to ask for what he needed. It was an excellent opportunity for him to find his voice and ask. Nothing he asked for was outrageous, but little things that just made a difference for him. One example was he asked for his food to be prepared a certain way at a restaurant. This was an exercise about being very mindful of what he needed and asked for it. When was the last time you ASKED for what you NEEDED?
TRUTH vs. truth
I define “TRUTH” as that which is absolute, factual, and evidenced-based. I define “truth” as that which we believe to be true but is based on speculation rather than fact. Sometimes, when we believe something to be “true,” we waste a lot of energy worrying about it rather than knowing what it is and learning how to navigate from that point. When it comes to your career, what would it look like if you asked a boss or trusted colleague about your professional reputation, rather than guessing what you think it is?
Hopefully, these six strategies will make things a bit easier for you or at least, help you manage the stress when you feel as if you are “running up the down escalator” and not getting where you want to be. If you have any questions and/or comments about this post, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!