By Mark Grzeskowiak
Sometimes, we realize the job that we have is not necessarily the job that we want. We find that we're unhappy with what we're doing, or find that we're complaining about our work all of the time. We find ourselves in a rut that we're unable to escape.
Our ability to change that situation, whatever the cause, is a good indicator of whether or not we suffer from career passivity.
To be passive is to be inert or inactive. Passive also means to be acted upon by an external agency. One thing that passive doesn't mean is taking initiative.
So when it comes to those times in our career when we feel like we're in a rut, most of us will be happy believing that things will eventually get better. We hope that tomorrow everything will be fine, and we'll be happy at work again. The sun will shine and the birds will sing, and all of the problems that have been plaguing us will be gone. All it will have taken is a slight change of perspective.
It also takes a bit of realism. Because we believe that, ultimately, there's nothing better for us out there. Take a look around – everyone is overworked, unhappy, and underpaid. Why change that comfortable pattern, the familiar faces, and the regular hours for something as inconsequential as happiness. At work!?
After all, aren't we taught from the beginning that work isn't about happiness? Work is about bearing down and slugging it out. It's about suffering. And it's about drinking a lot of coffee.
The caffeine helps us to focus on the task at hand. It sets our head straight and gives us the extra energy needed to get through the work that's piled up around us. Some people say that we'll have three or four careers over the course of our working lives. What a joke! Most of us have experienced the equivalent of seven careers at the same job. Welcome to the wonderful world of multitasking!
And why take the initiative and change things, anyway? Perhaps someone will notice our hard work and promote us. Granted, it's been a while since anyone mentioned a performance review, and the last time we talked to our supervisor, she went out of her way to remind us how difficult things are, with the cutbacks and all …
So we don't suffer from career passivity – it's just that our hands are tied.
That is, until we recognize that we have options and choose to act on them.
What are they? The first option is to quit and find a new job. What makes this difficult to do, however, is that it takes a bit of imagination. No, on second thought, it takes more than that. It takes the ability to get beyond the doubts we harbor about ourselves, our abilities, and the world around us.
But it's not the only option we have. Staying where we are and improving the situation at our current job doesn't mean waiting around for someone else's helping hand. We could ask for more responsibilities or volunteer to do committee work. Either will provide us with that new perspective on the workplace. And both look good on the résumé.
Or, we could choose to upgrade our skills by taking courses. Our supervisor might even be convinced to pay for them. Again, it's more ammunition for the résumé. But it also makes us better, more aware and up-to-date employees.
In retrospect, we should have been doing this all the time!
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