“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin. Time (and hence, life) moves quicker than we realize. If we let life happen to us, we can look back and wonder, “What if?” or feel we let opportunity slip away. If we approach life with purpose and direction, we’re more likely to accomplish personal and professional aspirations. One of the best ways to do this is to have a clear plan that gives you direction, clarity of purpose and allows you to communicate with others what you aspire to achieve! To get started, create a five-year plan. Start at year five and work backwards, setting benchmarks by year or clearly defined goals.
o Know and invest in your strengths.
o Describe what experiences in your industry or organization you believe is important and realistic.
I fall into a unique age bracket where some people consider me to be a millennial and others consider me a member of Generation X, point being, I kept my first job out of college for nearly 13 years and that makes me a bit of an oddity. So, as you can imagine the choice to start exploring other opportunities was a daunting one. Speaking from my experience, below are some things to evaluate when deciding whether or not changing jobs is the right decision for you.
Are You Happy?
Honestly, this made the top of my list because just recently I ran into someone I worked with in my previous career who asked if I was happy now that I have made a career change. My guess is the question came from her assumption that I wasn’t happy which led to my decision to make the change I did. This seems like a fair analysis, but there are so many components of a career that can make you happy or unhappy. Leadership, job duties, compensation, etc.
According to the AgCareers.com Candidate Motivation and Behavior Survey, dissatisfaction with their boss or supervisor has a high level of correlation to the likelihood of that person changing jobs. The same question shows that satisfaction with coworkers appears to have less impact on employees searching for another job. I will say for me, this was one of the things that kept me happy for many years in my career. I felt committed to my teammates as much as I did my supervisors. But when you reach a point when you are no longer happy with the direction of leadership, your compensation, or the day to day tasks of your job, then it is probably time to explore a change.
For some of those that know me, they may find it hard to believe that I truly consider myself more of an introvert. But if you don’t believe me, ask my husband! However, over time I feel like I’ve figured out the extrovert part and can sit comfortably in that space when the timing is right and I’m so glad that I have. I’ve met so many great people and learned so many new things just by getting out there and starting and participating in conversations, whether at networking events, kid’s activities, tradeshows, etc. Getting that conversation started doesn’t always come natural for everyone. You know who you are – don’t worry, you aren’t alone! While I’m not going to claim to be an expert of small talk, here are a few things that I’ve found helpful over time.
1. Look for small groups of people to interact with if possible. If you get in with a group, it can be easier to jump in on conversations that are already taking place. Also, you are likely to have more to talk about and possibly in common when there are several people to contribute to the conversation.
Workplace wardrobes can be tricky, particularly for those employees who do not have a mandated uniform or clearly written (and modernized) dress code policy. However, you may have a few things in your closet that you should never wear to work, regardless of how well the dress code is explained or enforced.
1. Flip flops. The weather is warming up and maybe you have a really comfortable pair. Sorry, put them back in the closet. Flip flops are never quiet and they’re never that nice (no mater how much you spent on them). While some offices may permit open toed shoes, sandals that expose more foot skin than they cover should be saved for the weekend.
2. Leggings as pants. While some dress codes may ban leggings all together, I can justify their presence in the office when worn under a LONG tunic or dress. However, substituting them for pants is not acceptable.
As a millennial myself, I certainly understand the frustration when it comes to the longing for the fast track to career advancement. However, as it’s often liked to say about us, that “entitled” mentality only leaves us disappointed and agitated in our roles. That’s a term I really hate: entitled. Let’s say “energetic” instead. I can definitely say I feel energetic about my career and the possibility of where it could lead. But like all things in life, it’s important to simply enjoy the journey. So join me as I reflect on and give suggestions toward climbing the millennial career ladder.
I LOVE podcasts! They help make a long drive more bearable and keep my mind alert while on the road. Admittingly, my favorite shows are murder mysteries, but I’ve also discovered shows that are beneficial for my professional life (and don’t creep me out when driving down a two-lane road late at night!).
Maybe you’re like me and have a stack of articles and books that would really benefit you professionally, if only you could make the time to read them. Podcasts enable me to gain wisdom during a time in my car that is otherwise spent trying to out-sing whoever is on the radio. They are also free and easily available on a range of devices. Check these podcasts out and download them for your next drive!
It is always important to grow as a person not only in your personal life but also your processional career. Conferences, continuing education and other training opportunities are a great way to learn and grow in your professional career. Sometimes it can be a bit awkward or even a little stressful to ask your boss to spend the money on you to participate in different opportunities. Here a few tips on how to ask for these opportunities.
Research the event or training program:
• What exactly is it that you want to attend
• What is the goal/takeaway of the continuing education or training program
• Compare a few different programs/events
• When will this occur and how much time away from your job
• How much will it cost: Registration, Hotel/Lodging, Food, Transportation
• What type of companies attend
Performance reviews typically aren’t most folk’s favorite day on the job, but they do serve as a valuable opportunity to check in with your manager. If you’ve ever had a poor performance review, you know that can be an especially devastating day. Having a less than stellar performance review isn’t the end of the world, there is still ample time to turn your performance around. Below are some tips for getting back on track.
Don’t make excuses.
Being confronted with less than desirable performance might lead you to give excuses for why things haven’t been going smoothly. It’s a good idea to avoid the blame game and it’s time to show your boss that you are serious about being a great employee.
One of the nuggets of wisdom my dad shared with me often as a child had to do with controlling your attitude. He would tell me about a job he had committed to when he was a younger man, that involved a construction project out in the middle of the desert. Now he was a steamfitter, so he spent a lot of time welding pipe, and you can imagine how fun that was in the desert. He got to a point where he just hated the project. He was miserable in the heat, and he dreaded going to work each day with a crew that wasn’t motivated. It was obvious they didn’t want to be there any more than he did, and they put as little effort into the work as possible. But my dad was not a quitter, so when he committed to go to work on that project, he was bound to see it through. So one day, he just made up his mind that he was going to make the best of his situation. You see, when you drudge through a job (or life in general) being sour and bitter, the one that is hurt and suffers most is YOU.
Ralph Towell was raised in packing houses, watching his mother and father ship beans, cucumbers, and squash to vegetable stores. His father and grandfather started their own produce distribution business. Despite the agricultural family he was born into, there came a point in his professional career where Ralph realized he was making decisions based on his gut and not his expertise: the decision to go back to school.
The agriculture industry continues to shift and change. If you’re working in this field, you may sometimes reach the same point Ralph did and wonder how you can continue to grow in your career. Which leads to the question, “Are you ready to go back to school?” There are many factors that go into a decision to finish your undergraduate degree or continue on to earn a master’s. Here are a few questions (and answers) to help guide your decision-making process.