When did it happen? You had fresh ideas, a new suit, and a promising future. Then one day you woke up to a recollection of a thought, a thousand responsibilities, and a promising diet plan. Your staff speaks CSS, PHP, Ruby, XML, and a few hundred more trendy abbreviations you aren’t quite sure are related to the internet, a reality star, or an expletive; but you do know it is exhausting trying to keep up. Heck you remember mimeographs — try slipping that one into a virtual watercooler conversation and it’s death by silence.
So it happened, you’ve become the slowly aging portrait to their perpetual youth. The truth is you have entered the 20/20s. The career no-man’s-land twenty years in and a good twenty to go, where you are neither young nor old and your mind is racing with quality of life decisions you’ve made. Then, like every week, Sally, the effervescent recent MBA grad from Omaha knocks on your door to tell you the QIB (quarterly investment bonds) report has been updated and is ready for your review. She smiles in that way that asks for approval as Jack, your boss, your mentor, your friend pops up behind her with that charming twinkle in his eye to say the client is over the moon about your presentation and are you free for lunch on Thursday. Before you can answer, the team manager for your division in Hong Kong rings in and your admin drops off the folder for the Skype call you scheduled. You give Jack a thumbs up on lunch, thank your admin, smile politely to Sally with a, “I’ll follow up after my call”, and engage Hong Kong. As reality floods back into your conscience you laugh to yourself, aware you’re good at what you do and are respected for your contribution. You’ve made quality choices all along; and you are as excited for the next twenty as you were for the first.
Questioning your value is common. Understanding that decisions are made in moments when the best possible information is before us is important. Being nostalgic about the past is healthy, however, dwelling on mistakes made and/or paths not taken is not. If you find yourself stuck in a holding pattern about choices past and present, complete an assessment exercise and update your LinkedIn page. Visual inventories of accomplishments and/or goals will help.
Reconnect with us next week for examples of assessment exercises and action plans you can implement to stay focused and fresh throughout your professional journey.