With Labor Day coming up, it’s an appropriate time to assess the state of your career. How are you feeling about your work? Does it give you an opportunity to put your skills to good use, to express your passions? Do you sense that you’re making a difference?
I know that right now you might be feeling grateful just to have a job. But if your career has not been hindered by the pandemic, or even if it has, how would you answer those questions?
The latest State of the American Workplace study from Gallup does not paint an encouraging picture. Just one-third of workers in the U.S. are “engaged” — that is, involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. While there’s much that employers can do to foster engagement among their employees, there’s a lot that each of us can do as well.
Do you remember the fable “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs”? A couple owned an amazing goose that produced a golden egg every day. But soon one golden egg a day wasn’t enough; they wanted more. Assuming there must be a lot more gold inside the bird, they cut it open only to discover nothing but goose guts. That, of course, marked the end of their daily dose of gold.
Your income-producing abilities are like that goose. Take care of those abilities, and they will take care of you and your family. Here are three ways to do that.
I wasn’t much of a student in my undergrad days. Pursuing a career as a broadcast journalist, I had the high and mighty attitude that school was getting in the way of my education. I was eager to get out of the classroom and get over to the National Public Radio affiliate where I worked as a paid reporter and afternoon news anchor.
But when I found my life’s work, I became hungry to go back to school, eventually earning a Master’s Degree from DePaul University. The coursework was related to the work I was doing at the time, so my employer paid for it. Plus, it enabled me to study marketing and culture, which were helpful to the personal finance writing and speaking I wanted to do. Some of the core ideas I wrote about in my thesis ended up in my first book.
Around 80 percent of large employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement and yet fewer than 10 percent of eligible employees take advantage of that benefit. That’s huge money being left on the table, not just tuition dollars but future earning potential as well. Does your employer offer tuition reimbursement? Are you making use of that benefit?
What else are you doing to improve at what you do or to pursue what you really want to do? Are you reading the latest books in your field? Keeping up with the best blogs or podcasts?
Find a mentor
A good mentor can help you be strategic in managing your career. So, who do you know whose career you admire? It might be someone at your current company, a family friend, someone in a different field, or someone you do volunteer work with.
Why not contact them and ask if they’d be willing to get together to talk about a possible mentoring relationship. You might assume they’re too busy to get together on a regular basis, but successful people are often honored to serve as a mentor to someone who is truly intent on growing in their career.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Check your attitude
Complainers are a dime a dozen. We all know the type. They gripe about the pay, the hours, and even the comfort of their office chair. The more they complain, they more they stay stuck.
Resolve to never be a complainer. If you have an issue, it’s okay to talk about it with your spouse or a close friend, but don’t poison the air in your office with your complaints.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. – Philippians 2:14-16
One of the most powerful antidotes to a bad attitude is gratitude. I’m not suggesting that you become a Pollyanna and paint on a fake smile. I’m just suggesting that you look for something to be thankful for in your current circumstances, like any productive steps you’re taking to get to a better place in your career.
The people who can most influence your career path, other than yourself, are not looking to promote the complainers around them. They’re looking for people who are really good at what they do and who bring the people around them up.
What’s been especially helpful to your career success? What’s holding you back?
Take it to heart: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23
Take action: What’s the most productive step you could take this week toward enhancing your career? Why not take it this week?
Read more: How to Recession-Proof Your Career
If you found this article helpful, please forward a link to someone else. And if someone forwarded it to you, please sign up for your own subscription. Twice a week, you’ll received ideas and encouragement for using money well.