We all want that promotion. We all dream of that corner office. And we all can’t wait until the day when we’re at the top of the ladder—rather than hanging out on the bottom rungs.
While there’s nothing wrong with looking ahead, setting goals, and working toward something bigger and better, that doesn’t mean you should completely lose focus on the things that are great about your career right now.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but those cheesy and cliché “It’s about the journey, not the destination” motivational posters in your sixth grade classroom were actually preaching some truth. While I’ll never discourage you from chasing improvement and progress, I’d love to inspire you to take a breath and pay attention to the things you love about your career at this very moment.
Because, just ask any top executive—you might wind up with that sweet corner office, but you’re never going to get this time back.
1. You Have the Whole World Ahead of You
Sure, there will be other exciting career transitions to look forward to—at least I certainly hope so. But, arguably, when you’re just getting started is the most thrilling time.
The world is your oyster, and you have your entire life and career ahead of you. Your options seem limitless, and—unlike the CEO—you have way more tomorrows than yesterdays.
I legitimately squealed when I received my first paycheck from my very first full-time job. And, that feeling of pure exhilaration, optimism, and enthusiasm? Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t come around too often. So, enjoy it while it’s here.
2. You Embrace Opportunities For Personal Growth and Exploration
There’s a certain point in your career when you find that you’re not as into trying new things—you just know what you’re good at, as well as what you’re not so good at. And, while it sounds like that personal knowledge will help push you forward, I think the period of exploration is truly underrated.
When you’re beginning your career, you’re essentially a sponge eager to soak up all of the knowledge and opportunities you can. And, while maintaining a similar outlook throughout the rest of your career is obviously advisable, it’s not always realistic. The longer you’re out there in the working world, the more rigid and predictable your career path becomes. Simply put, you have less flexibility.
So, treat this time period as your chance to try new things and really explore all of the options that are out there for you. Because once you have twenty years of professional history in one area, switching things up becomes significantly harder.
3. You Are More Optimistic Than Realistic
Let’s face it—there’s a lot to be said for a heavy dose of optimism about your career. And, after a few years of dealing with stressful deadlines, demanding bosses, and office politics, that sense of positivity can naturally start to fade away. Sure, you’ll (hopefully) still enjoy your work. But, the little things will weigh on you more.
However, when you still have your whole career ahead of you, everything has a certain shine to it. That overwhelmingly challenging assignment from your boss? It’s a chance to prove your value! That co-worker who won’t stop talking to you? Well, you must be well-liked and trusted in your office! That ridiculously tight deadline? It’s a great motivator!
Yep, you’re green, eager, and honestly, too blinded by your enthusiasm to realize that the person who actually deserves the promotion, isn’t always the one who actually gets it. So, savor this sense of optimism for as long as you possibly can. Because the longer you’re in the workforce, the harder it is to hold on to.
4. You Have Less Responsibility and Stress
You may be anxious to climb the that ladder. But, have you ever stopped to think about what happens when you actually reach the top? Spoiler alert: There’s a heck of a lot more stress and accountability on your plate. You’re not only responsible for your own performance, but you’re also on the hook for the work of others and the success of the organization as a whole.
If that sounds exciting to you, then more power to you! You have something to look forward to. But, for now, enjoy your lower-stress spot at the bottom of the ladder. You’ll have the view from the top eventually—and you might not always like what you see.
Yes, having goals and striving for bigger and better things is great. But, do you know what else is great? Where you are in your career right now. So, don’t be so focused on where you’re going, that you forget to appreciate where you are. Trust me, it won’t be long before you’re looking back fondly on these times—from your seat in your corner office.
Photo of mountain base courtesy of Shutterstock.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author