Everyone wants to be successful, to have a home, maybe a car and of course, to be acknowledged for the work they do. Everyone has a different definition of what is success to them. But to get there, first of all, you need to know what you want. Before reading further, you may wish to read up on my other article of Who are you at work.

I’m bringing up this topic because it’s  sometimes very frustrating to see people blindly groping their way around the workplace, unable to decide what they are aiming for when opportunities are just right there, in their face.

To let you see what I mean, I’ll quote you some real life stories:

1. Rina* the Procrastinator

Rina* has been working for 10 years now and for the past 5 years, she have been working as an administrative job in the same company. Time and time again, she is overlooked potential prospect of promotion to a managerial role. She just didn’t push for it and when I talked to her 2 years ago, she told me that she didn’t want to put in extra hours or take on a big project or manage people, she is happy just waiting for her monthly pay to come in.

That is great given that she enjoys a good balance in personal and work life. But recently, she complains to me that she have missed out relocation chances and bigger pay packages and she is currently the oldest person in her team (the others either left the company or promoted or join other departments).

She just didn’t make up her mind what she wants earlier in her career and now her management sees her as someone who is happy and stable and didn’t want to move.

Solution: Rina needs to take charge of her own career and sit down to decide what she wants. If a promotion upwards is something she wants, she needs to turn heads at her management. Telling her boss she is ready is one thing but she needs to show that she is ready and hungry for more. She needs to take on more prominent projects, participate in decision-making regards to her department and volunteers to put in extra hours to help when needed.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 11.46.30 pm2. Thomas* the Overly Ambitious

Fantastic young man, super ambitious and very hardworking. He was one of the best performer in my team. Always eager to share, always willing to learn. So what’s wrong?

Because he is overly ambitious, he tries out all kinds of positions open to him. When there was a managerial position open up, he wants to try out. Before he went for the 2nd interview for the managerial position, a trainer position open up too and he tried out as well.

Within the same month, before results from both positions are announced, he tries out for another position in marketing. (All positions are within the same company, same site.) The interviewer from the marketing position asked him if he knows what he is doing and what he wants to do in his career since he is interviewing all three different roles. Thomas answered he just want to move up in his career. The interviewer retorted with “Am I right to say that as long it is a move upwards, you don’t really care what work you are doing?”

Solution: Thomas needs to identify who he is at work, what he enjoy most in his work and find the right position for himself. Not to say he can’t deviate a little from the chosen position but it has to be within the same scope. For example, customer service manager and retail team leader – his core passion will be managing people and serving customers.

Putting your fingers in all the pies will give an impression that you are not passionate and decisive. Interviewers wants to see you have passion about the work the department does, not just the role you are applying for.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 8.16.06 pm3. Gavin* the Confidence Issue

Gavin’s work is average, not bad but nothing to shout about. He is friendly but did not contribute to ideas. In meetings, he always nod along, never voice out his opinions and prefers to be the background of things. Yet he voluntarily partake in overtime when work is not completed and he often seen advising and orienting new employees. And according to his peers, he has expressed his desire to do more but when someone urged him on, he would smiled and shake his head.

Time and time again, he got pass over for promotions and opportunities. He did not complain and seem at ease where he are. By chance, I joined him for lunch one day and ask him what is it he wants in 3 years down the career path. After half an hour of probing, he opened up and shared that he feels he could do better than his current team leader. Out pouring his ideas, suggestions and comparison on how to improve the team’s performance. But when I asked why he is not forthcoming with his boss, he shrugged and replied his ideas are not special enough and no one will listen to him anyways.  I promised him I will set up a meeting with him and his boss and I will personally coached him what to say and how to present his ideas. It took me two weeks, everyday meeting him up for lunch but at the end of the second week, he is more confident and more willing to step up.

An informal meeting was set up over a casual coffee, his team leader was surprised and delighted at his ideas, even gave him a chance to execute some of his ideas in the team. His own results increased as well and after a year, he called me up to thank me personally and to let me know he has been promoted to assistant team leader.

Knowing what you want is very important, it’s gives you a clear direction and an end goal (be it the end goal is to become a director of the company.) You may change your mind in the long run as you’ve grown wiser and experienced more, just don’t jump at every opportunity you’ve got. Ask yourself can this opportunity move you closer to the end goal you want?

If yes, don’t procrastinate, don’t wait until there is an open position before you show you can do it. Show now, express your desire to learn more, take on side projects that contribute to your goal, mingle and network with folks from the same role that you want to be in. Always believe in your ideas, have confidence that you can push the envelope further and be open-minded to criticisms.
Quoted Rina “I should have proven my worth for that promotion two years ago. If I had, perhaps I would be the one managing the department and I would have 2 years of managerial experience to put in my CV.”

Do you have similar life experiences to share? If yes, don’t be shy, drop me an email at kally@middleme.net.

*Not their real names

6 replies on “Hey, do you know what you want?

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