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How to Seize the Driver Seat of Your Career

How to Seize the Driver Seat of Your Career

In these trying times, it is necessary for women to seize the driver seat of their careers. While there is a plethora of resources available to us, many of us still find ourselves stalled when it comes to career growth. This can happen even with a steep investment in our professional development over the years.

What’s the root cause of women not progressing as intended? According to a LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company Women in the Workplace Study, potential reasons include the amount of manager support provided, lower level of access to senior leaders, and the discrimination that remains prevalent.

How can you tell if you’re not in the driver seat of your career?

  • Others dictate your path and you go along for the ride. This can play out in the form of a manager earmarking you for a role that you have no interest in, but you go along for the ride because you’re simply grateful to have a job in these trying times.
  • You are not intentional about forming strategic relationships for success. You can take networking or leave networking. It’s simply not your cup of tea. After all, you were hired to do your job. You’re already time challenged as it is and working lots of hours (and perhaps balancing family life in the mix), so it’s just not one of your top priority items.
  • You’ve been wounded in your career and you carry the hurt around with you. You simply aren’t able to forgive the person who’s wronged you, and so this story defines your career narrative. You will share it with anyone who shows a modicum of interest.

Now that we’ve identified key reasons that cause women to willingly or unwillingly retain passenger status when it comes to our careers, what can we do about it?

[Related: Poor Progress for Women in the Workplace]

Calling all drivers!

Despite challenges that seem to be outside of your control and in the hands of organizations, it is imperative to be in alignment with the fact that your career is your responsibility. As such, you must take an active role in navigating said path.

Take a vested interest in your career journey. Be clear on where you want to go. Invest the time required to think through where you want to be in your career. Have a clear career objective statement, even if you’re gainfully employed. This objective acts as a foundation for jumpstarting your career action plan.

Action: Create an affirmation that reinforces ownership of your career. For example, “I am responsible for my career” or, “I am in the driver seat of my career and I get to decide on the best route.”

[Related: Four Practical Steps to Truly Define Your Life's Purpose]

Build your success squad.

Networking holds the key to your success. Relationships make the world go around.

The people we see soaring in their careers mainly do so due to their ability to win the networking game. This means, they know how to put themselves out there, meet people, build relationships, be a valuable resource to their network, and ask for the support that they need. To quote Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network, "Effective networking requires purpose and preparation."

Action: Leverage established platforms to build new relationships. In modern-day digital communities, you can meet and connect with women online or in-person. This allows you to converse with women around the world who are focused on achieving their career goals and helping others do the same.

[Related: Want To Level Up At Work? Incorporate Squad Goals]

Heal your career wounds.

Once you become aware that you’ve been shifting the blame of your career results to others, you can take action to resume ownership. Taking ownership signifies the need to determine the best course of healing to get free from the heavy (and sometimes invisible) weight you’re carrying around.

A good way to know if you’ve not shed your career wound is to notice your language when you talk about your career with others. Are you fixated on a point in time that caused a career stall? What is the story that you’re sharing with others about your career?

Action: Make a list of defining career moments that you share when in conversation with others. On this list, circle any moment that conjures up feelings of discomfort in your body. Reflect back on the experience and write down the current feelings you carry around when you think about this experience. Rewrite the story with a lens focused on your actions in the experience. Let it be a story that reflects you taking ownership of this career experience.

We cannot afford to have a laissez faire approach when it comes to owning our careers. Market competition, along with corporate restructuring, does not accommodate for such an approach. When we are willing to take the reins and be the drivers in our careers, we yield results we are vested in.

[Related: The Neuroscience Secrets For Positive Change That Sticks]

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Simone Morris is an award-winning diversity and inclusion leader. She is a consultant and speaker committed to diversifying the workplace and training women and emerging leaders to take true leadership positions in all aspects of their lives.


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