The greatest detriment to career development and growth is our mindset on what it means to grow and progress deeper into a career. Stigmas around career development tell people to wait another year, stay in stagnant environments, or even pursue more forms of knowledge before taking any action. This post is meant to demystify stigmas around career development. Here are four myths about career development and what you can do to debunk them for yourself.
Myth #1: Career advancement means X role.
Many roles have a ladder for advancing your expertise. However, progression from entry-level to mid, senior, and beyond is not the only form of growth or progress. Advancement starts with understanding how to further integrate your values and skillsets. Roles serve as a way to focus on specific areas of skillsets and mastery.
There are many ways to integrate your values and skillsets. For example, you could be a developer or a leader in a team, product, or community setting. At work, roles focus on different areas of mastery, and each one is unique in what it offers. Be open to taking a path that isn’t what’s laid out at the start of any career journey you take. Your path does not need to be determined by the roles you take. Instead, consider roles that help accomplish your goals and advance your skillsets.
Myth #2: If I want to advance, I must…
This myth is about taking careers actions for others instead of ourselves. The danger of setting goals that look like progress to others but not yourself. I’ve seen many people stay unhappy at a company for another year and make decisions for others. The cost of that decision is your time, energy, and growth, you own your career development. Many people set goals that don’t matter to them in the hopes of making progress that others can see and understand instead of finding ways to meaningfully tie them back to both the business and their personal goals.
Have the courage to set goals that matter to you. You must be brave and not default on your unique values, strengths, and skills. In the workplace and even in the celebrity world, we adore those who are talented, those who have poured hours and years into their craft. Setting goals around what you should be doing is wasting time. Those responsibilities will be things we deal with regardless. It’s easy to see yourself as just a cog or role at the workplace and think this is all there is to career development and goal setting. Evaluate what you want and set goals around those outcomes. Don’t default on your unique set of experiences, skills, and values.
Myth #3: When I’m ready, I’ll step into my next role.
This myth is the mindset that we should feel ready for the next milestone, job, or accomplishment in our careers. I’m here to say you won’t know what it’s like until you experience it! Expecting the perfect conditions for our next career move perpetuates imposter syndrome. What’s worse is conflating accomplishments and knowledge with wisdom. You may never ‘feel’ ready.
This often comes in the form of saying you must go back to school, learn something new, and let another month go by before you can try something new. Many accomplished individuals go into cycles of overwork, hopelessness, or stress with this mindset of never being good enough. Our minds work to keep us used to what we know. It keeps us comfortable. We can ask good questions and prepare, but if we’re waiting for proof that we’re ready, we won’t get it until we’re doing it.
This was true for me when I was considering moving into management. I had led projects and done manager training, but I didn’t know what it would look like until I saw it. I could have spent forever looking into management styles and studying the ins and outs of how other people lead. If you’re making a reversible decision, give yourself a time frame to experiment and take some action and if it stirs something even greater in you, go and chase it.
My final takeaway
These were some career development myths I wanted to bust for you by talking about being true to yourself. The path of a personal journey to lean into your strengths and values is about being you. There will be many stigmas in this industry and parallel ones about leadership and the modern workplace. I hope this post encourages this evolution of personal strengths and discovery in ever-growing industries.