What do you want to do next in your career?
This question can feel intimidating if you honestly aren’t sure what you want to do or even how to begin figuring out the answer. Listen to me carefully: it is 100% okay that you don’t know what you want to do next. This is completely normal and common. If you have any feelings that you are behind, less than, or not as successful as others I want to shatter those false beliefs and remove that negative energy. Every single person has these thoughts. The key is not to let the uncertainty cripple your development.
If this is the reason you’ve been hesitant to speak to your boss about your career growth then let’s change your mindset.
First, let’s clear up the misconception that you have to know exactly which position, which title, or which responsibilities you want in order to have an effective development conversation. Sure, there are some people who go into their meetings with a clear focus of what they want; but that wasn’t their starting point. Let’s be honest, how often do we know what we want? How often do we get everything right on the first try? The development conversations help you build rapport, improve your skills, and learn about opportunities that might interest you.
I get it though. Part of the hesitation is not wanting to look unprepared or indecisive in your meetings. Here are the top reasons why you may be avoiding your developing meetings and how to think of them differently.
I am too new to this position, company, or the corporate world.
When you are new, it makes sense that you are still just trying to get your bearings and aren’t ready to talk about other opportunities. Instead, the objective of your meetings can be to develop more into your current role. What skills are you showcasing thus far, and what would your boss maybe like to see you do differently?
I don’t know what opportunities even exist.
This is exactly why you should be having development meetings. Even if you’ve been at a company awhile, you may not have any idea what is available if you’ve never discussed or explored the options. You can let your boss know that you still enjoy your position, but want to learn more about the company and how you can add more value. Perhaps you have seen someone on the team or a project struggling and you want to know if there is a way you can assist that would make sense for your development. Ask if you are able to do side-by-sides with other people to learn more.
I have a life change (i.e. family, financial, school) and I am not ready to take on more responsibility right now.
It does take effort to be able to integrate your work and home life successfully. There is nothing wrong with needing to take a step back from career advancement while you are dealing with a personal issue or a major life change. You certainly don’t need to overshare past your comfort level, but simply communicate to your boss that your career development is still important to you and you want to focus on it when you can give it more energy and effort. It isn’t that you need to stop your development; it is a shift in pace. Just because you aren’t going after a big project or promotion doesn’t mean your current work is less important. You still want to add value and feel fulfilled.
There are certainly more reasons why you may be hesitant to start talking about your development with your boss. I would love for you to share in the comments what might be holding you back. What I hope you understand from these examples is that there are still ways to develop that make the meetings valuable to you. Perhaps you just don’t need to meet as often. Your growth happens at your pace.
At the very least this will better prepare you for your annual review and should solidify your merit increase since you would have been improving all along. And, when you finally are ready to take on more, you aren’t starting from scratch. You’ve already built rapport and practiced having development meetings effectively.
While you’re here, check out my other career growth blogs.