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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Archive: Longevity

Archive: Longevity

January 11th, 2013

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Longevity, whether in the writing of a column or the length of your current job is usually seen as something good. It shows a commitment and reliability that is often sought in employees. That said, there can be some downsides to longevity, if you don’t monitor your career and your accomplishments.

Longevity out of mere inertia is never good. You might be stagnating in your career. If you haven’t changed jobs or careers simply because it might be too much work and turmoil, you might be limiting yourself in some fundamental ways.



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How do you know?

Regardless of whether you have been at your job one year or ten, you need to insure that each, month, each week, each day presents the opportunity for growth. Once you have achieved the pinnacle of quality in your current job, you need somewhere to grow. Even if you are great in your job, it can become a trap. Without growth, your sense of accomplishment will suffer, as will your sense of fulfillment with your job, as will the way others perceive you and your work. This can lead to a dangerous downward spiral where, unhappy with your work, you cease to do a great job.

With Career Opportunities, I have a built-in mechanism to track my growth. I can look back on the past 500+ columns and compare them to the work I am producing today. I should see changes, even great changes, over the 10 years. If not, then something is wrong. Since I produce a podcast each week from my past archive of columns, I regularly get re-introduced to something I wrote 5, 6 or even 10 years ago. It is always interesting to review the topics that were important at the time and also study my own style of writing. If you don’t have some regular method of reviewing your own work, you need to develop some — today.

Time Travel

Take a few minutes today to review your past work, not just this week or this month, but think back over the years. What were you doing 5 years ago? How has the focus of your work changed? How have the actual tasks of your daily work changed? Has it changed significantly at all? If not, then this could be a warning sign. In order to insure that your career thrives your work should be changing from day to day. Certainly it should be getting better, but it should also be increasingly different and hopefully more challenging from the day before.

Working in high-tech, this job change is often forced upon you, if you are working in the day-to-day operations of your company’s computers. Hardware and software come and go. Upgrades proliferate and internal systems mutate through a series of upgrades and replacements. While this aspect might take care of itself, you need to focus on changes in the type of work you are performing. Are you starting to do more network design? Are you spending more time writing specifications for software than the software itself? Is this what you want to do? What would you rather being doing? Why aren’t you?

Jump

Growth in your career is often a slow evolution from one phase to another, but sometimes you face major upheaval in your career. While this is certainly more stressful, it can bring dramatic improvements to your career and your life. While you might be afraid of suddenly being elevated to a new role with new expectations, I highly encourage you to do it anyway. Too often, we turn down great career opportunities because we are afraid that we might fail. The truth is, there will be times when you fail, but the growth you achieve can be a great reward in any case.

While longevity can be comforting, don’t stay in any job too long. If your job starts to feel too comfortable or unchallenging, it is a clear sign that you need to make a change. That doesn’t mean you have to quit, merely that you have to begin requesting or taking on more responsibility. A career is something you create over a lifetime. As you grow older you need to seek out just as many challenges as you did when you had your first job. If you don’t, you could be facing years of mind-numbing sameness from day-to-day with little to show for it at the end.

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