Once when I was doing a role in Sales. I was working in a team that took care of the Skin-cleansing and Oral care Business (Soaps & Toothpastes). I was specifically working on the Skin cleansing brand which is quite popular in Nigeria, but from time to time when we had projects in the Oral care space, I would help out and my colleague on Oral care would do same for me. Anyway long story short, on one of the days, we were running a campaign in the open market for one of the toothpaste brands and handing out free toothbrushes to people who buy. The conversation turned to toothbrushes and one of our colleagues blurted out that she hadn't changed her toothbrush in 2 years!
She was saying it as a thing of pride, but she really didn't know that you should change your toothbrush every 3 months and keeping it for longer can be harmful to your health. Suffice it to say that we had a really good laugh and got her to change it.
Many of us are like my colleague. We are totally oblivious to what's happening around us and sometimes what is required to remain competitive and to build a successful career. The way it happens is like this, you have searched and searched for a job and when you finally get your first one, you dive right in and bury your head in the work, without lifting your head every once in a while to see what's going on around you. The day you actually lift up your head is when things have become so dire (like a 2-year-old toothbrush) and you need to make a change immediately.
Having a successful Career is not something you happen on overnight. Apart from sheer luck for a random few, a great Career takes careful planning and constant refreshing. If you don't, you might just wake up one morning and find yourself frustrated, unhappy and wondering where you went wrong!
The smart thing to do is to lift your head up every once in a while and refresh. Here are 4 ways you can do it.
1. Refresh your Dreams
Many times as a child, you are asked what do you want to be when you grow up. For me, I wanted to be a lawyer, because I argued a lot and everyone asked me if I was a Lawyer when I always tried to prove my point. When I got to SS3 I wanted to be a Lab Scientist (Thank God my Dad discouraged me - I wasn't great at Physics). I ended up in HR and before long I got bored and took a detour. The point is, what you may wake up one day and find out that your dreams of 5 years ago no longer excite you and it is okay! I think it's even worse to hold on to an uninspiring dream. Dream big and dream often.
2. Refresh your Skills
You should never be proud that the last thing you learnt was two years ago. Keep your skills ever fresh and evergreen. In learning the skills you need, you should also explore skills outside your domain of expertise or formal education because it opens up new windows of opportunity both for advancement and self-discovery.
3. Refresh your Network
Many times people know that relationships are important, however, they sometimes act like they do not remember or a sense of pride comes over them and they feel they would make it on their own without the help of people around. The truth is there is no self-made man or woman. The fastest way to the top is to ask from the people who have been there or to stand on the shoulder of giants. It's not enough to maintain a great network, but you should constantly evaluate, reach out and add more people to your network. Another day, I would share how valuable my network has been in helping me build a Career that I am proud of. You are 2-3 people away from your dream and it can happen in a minute if you just reach out to the right person.
4. Refresh your Experience
The best way to learn is by doing. 70% of your learning as an individual happens through your experiences. When you find new experiences, whether it's a new job, a volunteer opportunity or a new project, new experience give you a new pair of lenses through which you can evaluate the world around you. My number one advice for people who are stuck and don't know what to do about it, apart from assessments that help you with understanding yourself and evaluating your current experiences, I usually would advise for you to try something new. When you try something new, you can discover something you like or something you don't like. Whatever the case, each experience is useful.
Those are 4 ways you can refresh your career. Think of more creative ways to refresh your career and while you are at it, remember to change your toothbrush!
Comment below and let me know what you do to make sure you don't get stuck in a rut and how you keep your career fresh.