Maybe your attitudes, not your skills, are holding you back. Enthusiasm for work can take you leaps and bounds – from an intern one day to a top job the next.
Sitting around saying things like this – are bound to keep you stuck:
I wouldn’t dream of interning.
I did that 10 years ago – I’m not going backwards!
I am worth a lot more than that!
Change that L into a P – it’s about powering yourself, not lowering yourself. If I wanted to switch career, or work with the most amazing company I know – I would gladly intern if they’d have me. The problem is, some people overinflate their value and get upset when they perceive they are lowering themselves. This happens just as much to those young inexperienced people and the older formerly highly paid executives who expect equivalent pay and worth.
It’s tricky territory, because when a person’s on the hunt for a new position or getting back into the job market, suddenly those years of acquiring skills and credentials may not be so relevant. Being “current” is nothing to crow about, anymore than resting on one’s laurels is laudatory. It’s a reality, nevertheless, as the recently-released Intergenerational Report made clear: many if not most of us will have to keep working as long as we’re fit and able. Retirement? Unlikely in the 21st century.
I feel very much people’s bewilderment and indignation when scrabbling for positions and pay packets they might not have had to consider in recent years. The market is changing rapidly, and before you know it, you’re nearing 50, have had kids and you’re looking quite long in the tooth compared to that fresh-faced 30 something (who in turn is eyeing the 22-year-old just as nervously). Youth vs experience, techies vs knowledge, “exposure” vs “forget it” – it’s happening to many of us.
So what to do if you’re griping about this experience?
1. Cope with the big blows by finding usable positives
Even if you didn’t really want the position, being dismissed is always a blow. Try not to dwell on it – get out and move forward. You will always have gained something from your time in that role. List every challenge and all the experience and skills you acquired – this will help you by boosting confidence, getting you unstuck and gives you new ammunition for a job interview.
2. Take responsibility for yourself – manage emotional boundaries
Step off the pedestal and don’t complain. Yes, it seems to be the opposite of “you’re worth it”. “Worth” is a fluid concept, at least as far as the marketplace is concerned. Your own feelings of worth nevertheless need to remain quietly steadfast. Don’t be aloof. Don’t view the world through your own inflexible expectations. This will give you power and opportunities.
Don’t complain to others. Avoid petulance. Don’t sap others’ energy:
This job pays a pittance.
I would have been much better off…
I’m being exploited!
Sharpen your antennae for something different and give opportunities a chance to develop.
Shrug, smile, do all tasks well. Maintain those emotional boundaries without being rigid. Take very good care of yourself.
3. Why not try? Surprise yourself
You think you never want to make a sandwich, do a spreadsheet or a database, or ever run a training session again, or do manual work. Maybe you’d never considered a role of helping others in need. Do you ask who made the road you walk on every day? Do you notice the newspapers, the fresh fruit and vegetables, the neat array of goods when you go shopping? Someone is always making life a little easier somewhere, without our knowing who they are. Why not you for a change?
And that’s really it: take a deep breath (or twenty). You’re not lowering yourself. You’re not experiencing a peak either. You’re on that mountain, with everyone else, some ‘higher’, some ‘lower’ than you. Get stronger and be flexible … for whatever’s around for the corner.
Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.