Laid-off? It’s your fault. Didn’t get the promotion you wanted? Guess what? That’s your fault as well. In a dead-end job? You get the idea. Where you are today is your fault. The reality is, our lives are the aggregate of the decisions we have made to this point. The good news? If it’s your fault, that means you have the power to change it. You are not some victim at the mercy of a corporate conspiracy. Here’s what you can do about it:
Pay attention. Pay attention to your environment. If you care about your job, understand what’s going on in your company, your company’s industry, and the government. You don’t have to become an economist or futurist, but be informed. Is there legislation being proposed that could negatively impact your company? How is the industry doing? Understanding these things at the macro-level will help you understand if your company will have to shrink or grow in its workforce. Additionally, understand your company at a micro-level. What initiatives are important to the executives? What’s important to your boss? What does your company value, and are you delivering what they value? Are there political undercurrents influencing decisions? Understanding these types of questions will help your career advancement within the company. You own your career, so act like it. If it’s important to you, spend the time necessary to protect it.
Take ownership. Too many people lament about what happens at work. Whether you are upset, you are working for a crappy boss, or you are part of a downsizing, own it. Complaining doesn’t move you forward. If anything, it moves you backwards. Complaining keeps you focused on the issue and how the issue is impacting you. Often, this results in depression and inaction. Instead, be focused on the solution. You hate your boss? What are you going to do about it? Feel like you are always being passed up for opportunities? When was the last time you really owned your personal development? While corporations try to care about you, in reality, they care about you to the extent it’s helping them out. There is nothing wrong with that. You are in a mutually beneficial relationship. You deliver, they get what they want. They pay you, you get what you want. If you want more out of the relationship, you need to give more. The power to change your situation completely lies with you. Don’t wait for a fairy godmother to come and transform your career into a fairytale ending.
Act. Once you take ownership for your situation, act. If you are currently in a situation you don’t want to be in, assess where you are and where you want to go, and build a plan to bridge the gap. If you like where you are at, proactively protect it. Don’t sit idly, thinking things will remain the same. They won’t. You know the colloquialism: “The only constant is change.” Things are going to change; work to stay on the positive side of change. Do this by taking the information you gathered in Step One and acting on it. If you know your industry is likely at its peak, what you are doing to ensure your skills are diversified to stay in demand? If you know your company will be expanding in the future and will need leaders, what are you doing to work on your personal development and to network with the right people? Never ride the wave and rest on your current success. Your success can be gone in an instant. As my friend Rory Vaden says, “Success is never owned, it’s only rented; and the rent is due everyday.”
Where in your life have you been acting like a victim? Stop. You are in control of your life. Forces outside of your control influence your life, but ultimately you have 100% control of your response. When life happens, take ownership, and choose your response. And better yet, stop staring at your phone, and start paying attention to what’s going on around you. If you pay attention to the signs, you can start outrunning storms or reaching treasure chests before everyone else.
Jana Axline is Chief Project Officer at Project Genetics and the author of Becoming You. Through her leadership musings, she inspires audiences to grow as leaders and ultimately achieve who they were created to be. For more information visit Project Genetics.