Motivation is a key necessity in growing your career. If I have not already said it clearly before, persistence and time really is one of the largest factors. If you have an Uncle or Grandma giving you business hand-me-downs, you may not need motivation or persistence. But if you’;re like the majority, you will require the time and patience to get from point A to point B in your career until you’;re most often satisfied and ready to settle.
If you think about it, education takes time, working your way from an entry-level position takes time, certificates take time, and so on. It is a progressive rhythm that you’;ll be on until you find your niche and settle in a long-term position that makes you feel successful and content.
So, how do you stay motivated in the day-to-day while on your career journey?
This is not an easy answer, nor is there one specific answer for everyone. Even though we’;re all nerds (if you’;re in IT), some like Mountain Dew and others like Dr. Pepper. Some prefer WoW, others like Call of Duty, but I personally prefer sports and blogging to games. I am happy to share a couple ways you can recharge and keep motivated during the dry spells. This is clearly a key discipline for life in general of course. Fitness, diet, mastering a skill and building your career all take discipline and motivation to accomplish most efficiently. If you’;re rather play video games, that’;s fine, just do not expect to wake up one day and magically have a glorious career, money in the bank and a bright future ahead of you if you are not dedicating some time and effort to keeping on track.
Certification Planning – Until you have a palette of certificates in your geek tool belt, you should be on a plan to study for, take and pass the exams that support and expand your skills. I’;ll leave the detail for another day but there is virtually no end to the certs out there today … find something, schedule the test and study well. Some companies even give you time during the week to study and prepare. They also may have vouchers for exams or do exam reimbursements, all you have to do is ask. Getting one certification will give you the motivation and boost to continue moving forward. Plus, the addition to your resume is very nice and will help with the cha-ching later. Again, if your company offers vouchers or reimbursements for certificates and you are not taking it, you are making a very bad career quenching move.
Education – If you do not have a degree, there’;s never a better time to start than right now. Online programs are all over the place and can really get you in gear and on track for boosting your career, which really helps to study other technologies and possibly find your niche if you do not already have one too. If you do have a specific niche, the degree can seem like just a piece of paper. But that expensive piece of paper is definitely necessary for 80-90% of the top jobs in IT and in other areas if you are searching outside of Information Technology. Without it, plan on having to make up for it in other areas, such as being in a highly specialized niche such as SAP Basis Engineer or iOS developer. Going to school will also keep you motivated as you finish credits and learn more interesting and cool material.
Test the Market – If you’;re losing interest in your current position, maybe it’;s time to test the market a bit and apply for some jobs. Even if you do not see yourself jumping to another position, you just never know what you will find. Sometimes an interview or two can give you a different perspective or also make you more hungry to get the skills or certs you’;re missing, which is motivation enough. You might even get the same effect just by looking at job boards for a while or posting on forums.
Time Away – If you’;re burnt out, you probably just need time to recharge. When you do this, be sure to take the time reflecting on your goals and progress. If you do not have goals, you need to get some (we will talk more about that later)! Write things down or discuss them with your significant other, or close friends. Allow yourself to dream a little about what you want your career to be! This helped me immensely! My wife is a true dreamer and encouraged me to continue and push harder to reach my goals.
Chronicle Success – I always keep a folder in my mailbox called "Kudos and Praise". Maybe it sounds rather cheesy, but I feed off of approval and small success builds into bigger success for me. Each time I complete a project or a college or boss shoots me an "Atta boy", I drag that email into my folder. Occidentally, I’;ll spend a couple minutes looking at a few emails in there, reading the whole email string. Doing so reminds me of small successes, problems I solved and even the "Atta boy" that followed it. If you’;re like me, you probably just went "aha", and you’;ll go create that folder today! Do not let anyone tell you that this is an ego trip, just ask them if they have any goals and have them email you 10 years from now to see where they’;ve gotten in life.
Keep motivated friends!