managemnet company strategy managemanet How to Make Peace with Feeling Less Ambitious

How to Make Peace with Feeling Less Ambitious

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At the start of each new year, we are inundated with how-to advice planning your professional development in the next 12 months or tackling big goals you put it off. But what if that’s it real where are you this year?

More and more, I hear from a number of my clients about their desire to regain their professional ambitions, at least for now. In fact, a new one The Gallup report shows that worker stress has reached an all-time high and only one-third of workers are “advancing their well-being.” With the stress of the pandemic and the changes we all have to make professionally, it’s no wonder that something has to give.

But the desire to downshift is often accompanied by feelings of ambivalence or even shame. After all, despite the fact that many professionals have experienced a feeling of malaise In the past few years, the story of success in corporate life has only one story: Work hard to get promoted, get more clients, get more recognition, and climb the hierarchy.

As a result, wanting a less intense work flow, and perhaps taking on fewer clients and responsibilities, may feel professionally risky. Co-workers and clients have expressed concerns that downshifting, even for a year or two, could lead to them becoming irrelevant or forgotten by clients. And emotionally, the idea of ​​stepping back can feel like a betrayal to their former selves, who worked so hard to build a steady stream of referrals and new business that they’ve been rejecting. today.

Their concerns are justified – RESEARCH REVEALS by Sylvia Ann Hewlett on women trying to re-enter the workforce after taking leave for children shows the surprising level of difficulty they encounter, even when the gap is short and their previous credentials are over . It is not impossible to imagine that any professional – male or female – may experience a similar challenge to reconnect with work after a sabbatical, or perhaps a period of work that is less intense.

But despite the possible professional risks, if you feel burnt or overstretching, it’s important to recognize when you’ve hit (or are about to hit) a wall. Here are three strategies you can use to make peace with your desire to scale your ambitions, even if they contradict your previous vision of yourself as a driven professional.

Think in waves.

As I described in my book The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World, professionals – for understandable reasons – tend to continue to duplicate the strategies that are effective for them at work. (If you love networking, for example, you’ll probably continue to do it.) That’s not a bad strategy in general, but it can be a liability if you fail to recognize the moments when you should switch. your attitude. (Networking is great, but the marginal value of making new connections is minimal if your performance evaluation suffers because of, say, a lack of emphasis on your public speaking skills.)

The secret, then, is to understand how to “think in waves” and recognize when it’s time to focus on another strategy. This applies both within the professional realm (for example, reallocating your time from networking mixers to public speaking classes) and beyond it as well. For many professionals, it may be time, after years or decades of grinding work, to shift energy to your health, whether it’s on the backburner, or a struggling child, as is currently being done in one of my clients, o outside interest.

Recognize that there is no universal timeline.

By now, we all know the dangers of the “comparison trap,” where we track our progress – and sometimes lead ourselves to distraction — by lining ourselves up against peers and colleagues. Behavior can useful sometimes, allows us to imagine new possibilities for ourselves and inspires us to healthy competition. But often, it provokes self-loathing. Why haven’t I partnered with Rob yet? Why can’t I get a seven-figure client like Donna did, or publish a book like Marco did last year? What’s wrong with me?

The admonition that “we all run our own race” may sound corny – but it’s true. In a recent call with a colleague, he was frustrated that various business projects were not progressing as quickly as he would have liked. Meanwhile, his best friend – and business partner – died unexpectedly just a few months ago. Another client is willing to act on a set of professional goals when a natural disaster strikes his community. He immersed himself almost full-time in relief efforts, but felt nervous about the impact on his business.

It’s understandable to want to go after the goals we’ve set before, especially when it seems like everyone we know is getting there faster. But we need to give ourselves grace and acknowledge that almost everyone’s timeline will derail at some point — we just don’t know when, or in what particular way.

Taking the time to downshift now, when you need it, may seem like a step back – but it may give you the strength and clarity you need. progress faster and effective in the future. In fact, because many people are re-evaluating priorities and expectations after the pandemic, this may be the best time to recharge, because fewer people will “surpass” you on the traditional race track than in other historical moments, so that stepping off the treadmill may feel less stressful to you as a result.

Understand the conditions for growth.

Success often feels like a volume game: More time making connections, pitching proposals, and grinding in the office will lead to success. But sometimes – especially when you’re already struggling yourself and your ability to deliver in traditional ways is compromised – what you need is nothing more. You need something different.

Nearly a decade ago, I took a month off work (and wrote about the process for HBR). A long break (and being somewhat “off the grid”) requires sacrifices. In the early days of my business, I was very stressed about the economic implications of not working, because I had not yet established any source of income. passive income. And being out of touch meant that I had to miss out on what would be valuable time income from the clients I was with on a monthly retainer.

But a decade later, money doesn’t seem worth remembering, and the memory of spending a month traveling around India is more precious to me. And even in the short term, I discovered an unexpected benefit. Just a few days after returning, I wrote an article – about five things you should stop doing at work — which arose directly from the self-reflection the trip prompted about how I wanted to live my life. It became an unexpected success, and, despite being published in the middle of December, one of the most popular articles of the year.

Allowing yourself different inputs, whether it’s a month-long trip abroad, or a year to step back from the grind mentality and focus on other areas of your life and well-being, lead to different outputs. While you may “fall behind” on some of the standards you use to grade yourself, you may also find inspiration in new places or distill new ideas that will be meaningful to you and others. in the future.

You are used to thinking of yourself as a high-achieving professional, and may feel uncomfortable having that identity questioned by your own desires and actions. But lowering your ambitions doesn’t mean you throw away your past or become lazy. It may mean that you finally know what it takes for achievement and ambition to be pursued.

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