10 Ways to Avoid Blocked Escalators at 40
The admirable Reid Hoffman in his book The Start-Up of You talks about blocked escalators. No longer is there movement beneath your feet that, you can bank on with confidence, will raise you inevitably upwards in your career. This is true for many people today. And it is likely to be more marked for those of us over the age of 40.
Here are 10 ways to avoid the blocked escalator:
1. Understand Your Situation
Quite often we don’t take our job, our employment, our workplace situation seriously enough. It’s very easy for us to set ourselves to cruise control and believe that things will be the way they’ve always been. When you deselect cruise control and start using your feet and hands and your eyes and take full control of the ship you may notice that there are changes happening around you that can easily impact upon your situation.
2. Determine What Suits You
You have to decide whether the current situation and your best assessment of it suits you or not. You may have believed 5 years ago or ten years ago that you were cruising smoothly to a higher level within your organisation. Now you see more clearly that this is unlikely to be the case. Does it suit you or not? This is the big question that will determine your ability to avoid a blocked escalator.
3. Plan the Period Ahead
You do not want to wake up one day and find yourself in the nightmare scenario of changes that are affecting you but over which you had no thought and no control.
4. Make an Assessment
Assess what is going to work for you in the short, medium and long term. Your assessment will help you to understand not just what is but what needs to be. It is likely to throw up more questions than answers. It’s also likely to suggest to you that the issues to be worked on are more than purely work ones.
5. Build Your Capability
One of the outcomes from understanding your situation well and making a plan is that you will have a better understanding of what capability you need to stay within the context that you’re in. What more do you need to do to make yourself more resilient? To enable yourself to sustain your employment in the place that you’re currently working, do not expect to be given what you need.
6. Develop the Plan for Yourself
Develop a plan that is about your own growth and learning and where you are heading for the rest of your professional career. This may be the first time that you plot the branches of the approach to sustaining your professional life.
7. Take Control
Unshackle yourself from any dependency on your employer. If you leave your career to someone, maybe your boss, maybe your HR director, or maybe something like an employer, then you are on risky territory.
8. Have a Plan B
If plan A is to stay at your organisation and stay comfortable where you are, what is your plan B? You need to take heed of what Charles Handy, the eminent writer and social philosopher, has been saying – the number of leaders in enterprises is dropping and it’s unlikely that you will progress over the age of 40. That is not to say you won’t but it is becoming less likely that you will. Plan B needs to be realistic in terms of whether you’re going to make it through to the level you want to get to and what to do if you don’t.
9. Ask, “Where do I go?”
There will be opportunities. There are going to be opportunities where you are and opportunities for other things you can do. There are going to be opportunities beyond that also and you’re going to have to work at understanding what those are and what you can do to make them real and how you can pull yourself away from your current role if that is what you want to do. Don’t assume it’s all in front of you. You have to realise that there is hard work ahead.
10. Get the Timing Right
When you’re planning at this stage of your life what to do, optimising your wealth is an increasingly important step. You want to optimise your earnings and you want to make certain that the timing of any change to your current employer and status is really well thought through. Staying put with overly high expectations is as risky as a badly managed career transition.
By Simon North, Founder of Position Ignition (www.positionignition.com) and the Career Ignition Club (www.careerignitionclub.com), the UK’s leading career change and career development company and platform. He is also the author of 125 LinkedIn Job Search Tips (http://www.positionignition.com/100-linkedin-job-search-tips). Follow him @PosIgnition for more help with your career challenges.