The Shockingly Simple Solution To Getting Unstuck In Your Career
As a high-achiever, you're probably pretty self-sufficient. It's part of what's made you so successful in the first place: what you don't know, you simply figure out.
Challenging boss? Stretch assignment? New responsibility or subject matter? You figure it out.
Maybe you've even developed a reputation. People describe you as, "adaptable," "flexible," "creative," and "a quick learner." You pride yourself on being able to think through solutions to difficult problems.
It's what you do. It's who you are. Which is why it's so disorienting when you face a career challenge you just can't figure out.
You don't think twice about helping others, but when it comes to asking for help, well, you just prefer not to do it. It feels awkward or needy. And people just aren't used to it.
Your self-sufficiency is an absolute strength, but like any strength, it can also be a blind spot.
The Curse of Being Self-sufficient
In my early years as a management consultant, the "Figure it out!" exhortation was frequently invoked. We were constantly being thrown into new experiences with challenging constraints, where the expectation was to find a way forward. On our own.
Whenever someone deigned to ask for more direction or (gasp) more time, my manager used to vent to me in exasperation, "Why can't they just figure it out?!"
This was how I learned to NOT ask for help, especially when it came to my career. For years, I saw asking for help as weakness. For years, I valued having *an* answer over finding the *best* answer. For years, I incorrectly interpreted "figuring it out" as "figuring it out on my own."
The result? Years of career dissatisfaction, frustration, and unfulfilled potential.
Years later, and many ill-informed career decisions later, I learned that asking others for help is one of the smartest (and strongest) things you can do, especially when you're trying to change something for the better.
The Danger Of Waiting To Figure It Out First
Now that I'm aware of my own blind spot, of course, I see it everywhere with others as they wrestle with their careers.
"I haven't made progress since we last spoke. Should we postpone our meeting?"
"I want to wait until I have some more clarity."
"I need more time to formulate my questions."
"I'm stuck and don't want to waste your time."
Asking questions like these is *exactly* when you need to talk someone. When you're stuck or what you've been doing isn't working. When you're in your head instead of out in the world. When you're talking yourself out of ideas as quickly as you're coming up with them.
Figuring Out Your Career Doesn't Need To Be Rocket Science
People want to help, but you need to tell them what you want. Every day, I get messages from clients marveling at how complete strangers are willing to help with their career.
You don't have to figure out anything before you ask for help. All you need is the willingness to talk things through and take action. In fact, talking it out brings clarity and new ways of thinking. It opens doors and creates opportunities.
Be honest with yourself about what you want. Get clear on the challenges. Define a way forward. Meet with interesting people who are already doing what you want or have the power to help you.
One. Step. At. A. Time.
Yes, it's that simple.
I'm here if you get stuck.
Scroll down to comment and share.