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The path to career agility and fulfillment is there for the taking, but you have to proactively step into it to access it. Especially if you are a pragmatic person or a bit more on the reserved side, it can be tempting to sit back and wait, thinking that you will:

  • Do good work that speaks for itself, and advancement opportunities will naturally appear 
  • Speak up in the leadership meeting when someone calls on you 
  • Meet with your peer to network when he invites you for coffee
  • Discuss your career with your boss when the subject comes up naturally
  • Start working in a new job when someone hires you
  • Make a career pivot when an opportunity arises

It is tempting to wait to live a meaningful life through your career until either someone else invites you in or else the stars align and the right opportunity presents itself. That is not the way things work: instead, the path to career agility and fulfillment is paved with opportunities you create on your own behalf.

So, instead of the list above, in reality, it reads more like this:

  • Do good work while also connecting the dots for your boss to understand that you would like to advance; initiate proactive discussions to identify gaps between where you are and where you need to be considered a solid candidate for advancement, and then actively work to close them.
  • Speak up in the leadership meeting each time, ideally within the first five minutes to get your voice in the room. You are clear on what you stand for and you speak up proactively to move your agenda forward as well as to support your colleagues.
  • Invite your peers for regular networking touchpoints, co-creating an agenda that makes it valuable for both of you to prioritize meeting.
  • Embed career discussion into your regular 1:1s with your boss, focused on what is important to you, where you want to go, the support you need, and opportunities to give you more exposure and experience on areas of interest and in service of your goals.
  • Proactively reach out to your network to explore new job opportunities through informational interviews to bring them up to speed with where you are headed next and to learn more about target employers or roles that interest you; updating and circulating your professional positioning to make you an appealing candidate for the role you are seeking; finding ways to get exposure to and into conversation with those in a position of influence to bring you into the company, and then making yourself an indispensable resource to those folks so they remember you when they are hiring and/or make a role for you.
  • Make a career pivot into a new arena, either volunteering, taking courses, joining professional associations, or working on a self-initiated project that makes a compelling case for future opportunities

The momentum that you build over time by taking baby steps proactively on your own behalf ushers in what you are looking to create for yourself. Sitting back and waiting to be invited in is a path to futility.

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