What have I always hated about “work?” The consistent answer is being in tactical hell. I’m guessing you feel my pain. Being able to not only strategize, but tactical deliver is considered a huge differentiator in the workplace and in the solopreneur world. You don’t just think, you do.
But isn’t tactical hell… hell?
In the corporate environment, knowing the nitty gritty details and being able to execute them, is valued. Perhaps it even helps you with job security in some positions. When you become known as the go-to person for X, Y or Z, then your stock in the company goes up as well.
But how do you move past paying your dues with tactical delivery and transition into strategy and leadership?
I have worked at various small and large companies across the U.S. One of the most mind-boggling things that is consistent throughout all of them, is senior leaders, dealing with the tactical BS – constantly. Directors, VPs, and above wanting to stay intimately connected with the tactical delivery of their scope of responsibility.
Earlier in my career, I always felt lucky to just have a job. That was before the economy turned to crap and jobs were harder to find. I never thought about the long-term trajectory of the skills that I wanted to use and leverage during my career, or what brought me joy. My goal was simple: be employed, earn a lot of money, and move up the ladder.
Let’s just say that I went through a LOT of jobs during those years. I was an apply and interview queen. If a company was a well-known name and they wanted me, then I said yes. Always.
At some point in 2010 when the idea of starting my own business, becoming my own boss, started to become a real possibility, my attitude to saying yes to companies shifted, dramatically. I can’t pinpoint what happened exactly, but perhaps for the first time I realized my own value to a company… not the other way around.
It’s Ok to Walk Away
I still applied and interviewed at what would be considered, for many, dream companies. Think: Silicon Valley’s biggest names and “cool places” to work. I applied, interviewed, and was offered a few awesome roles.
But I said no to all of them.
Throughout our career, we are constantly searching for our “dream job.” That one perfect position that will make us gloriously happy and eager to show up to work every day, make a difference in the world, and earn well over six-figures doing it. The elusive golden ticket of our career.
It never fails that once we find that “dream job,” drama ensues.
Like a popped balloon, the disappointment of your dream being not as perfect as you thought it would be, is deflating. But alas, it’s not time to start dreaming up another job – you can save the one you’re already in.
Get to the root of it.
Figure out what went wrong and immediately prevent it from happening again. Usually our vision is shattered by an event, an action, a word, a new project – something. Evaluate what cause your dream to turn into a mini-nightmare.
For example, I thought I was in my dream job when I ended up having to cut out circles on my office floor. That was the catalyst of drama for me – feeling like I was missing out on adding value and interacting with interesting coworkers.
What happened to change your perspective about the situation?
Get back to reality.
Your job probably wasn’t that dreamy to begin with – not in reality. So go back to the job description, go back to what attracted you to the position in the first place, and start figuring out what got you excited in the first place.
Keep reading to learn all of the ways to combat your dream job drama.
Read more on Life After College
I’ve been thinking about age quite a bit recently. Maybe because I found my first gray hair a few weeks back, or perhaps it’s because I attended my first meeting where there was a younger person in the room. Regardless, age has been a constant measuring stick throughout my career.
When I became a manager at 24, I was proud that not only was I moving up the ladder, but I was the youngest manager the company had ever had. That was a major point of contention when telling my friends about it; my friends who were the same age as I was in “lower” titled jobs (ugh, how snobby does that sound now?). My measuring stick remained – through every career change, promotion, and company.
Was I keeping up with (who are we kidding – in front of), my peer group?
I was in constant compare and conquer mode. It didn’t stop at work. I used to look at my age-group “peers” who were famous – singers, actors, and so on. They seemed so much more successful than me – I’d often think, “I can’t believe how much they’ve accomplished by (enter age). Why can’t I do that?”
We’ve all experienced it – a moment in time, a certain action, reaction, consequence, or outcome that brings us sudden clarity. The point of change. For whatever reason, your perspective is forever changed and you cannot “un-know” something that you now see so clearly.
I remember a very specific tipping point for me in each of the jobs I’ve left. Some were poignant, and others were subtle. The most memorable being when I quit my resident director job in college during the biggest holiday weekend, without notice and without a place to live. I was taking a stand – reacting to a decision I didn’t approve of. (I was young).
In another role, I was on the floor cutting out circles to create a representation of what world clocks would look like in the hallway (as a manager in HR/Employee Communications), when the CEO walked past my office asking what the heck I was doing. That was my turning point for that position – I remember thinking, “What the heck am I doing? How is this leveraging my talents, my skills, my brain?”