I’m guessing that if you’re reading this article, you’re not someone who prefers to be on cruise control at work. Rather, you’re energized by the idea of maximizing your potential, improving your abilities, constantly learning, and creating an impact that grows over time.
If so, the question becomes: How do you know if you’re truly making the most of what you bring to the table? Is the career and job you’re currently in the best place for you to keep moving forward, or would you be better off making a change?
Well, you probably don’t know for sure. But after you take this quiz, you’ll be able to see where you’re maximizing and where you can improve.
Go ahead and answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions:
Do you experience being in the zone—that energizing feeling where you’re so engrossed in what you’re doing, you lose track of time—at least once a week?
Are you regularly challenged (and rarely, if ever, bored)?
Do you frequently think about ways to get better at what you do?
Do you regularly seek out outside sources of information—reading books, listening to experts, taking classes—that will improve your expertise?
Do you ask for and give feedback freely to your co-workers?
Can you think of a moment of pure joy from the past week or two?
Does the impact of your work fulfill you?
Do you look at failures or disappointments as opportunities and learning experiences?
Do you rarely ask yourself, “What am I meant to be doing?”
Do you feel deeply connected to the people you work with, along with the mission and vision of your organization?
Now, tally up your score. If you answered yes:
You’re maximizing your potential and having fun along the way. You’ve found an environment that is complementary to who you are, meaning you’re able to be your true self and grow to be the best you can be.
Your goal now is to not lose momentum. Spend time every week thinking about how you can continue to motivate and challenge yourself. Whether that’s signing up for a class or pitching a side project to your manager, it’s good to keep your skills sharp. Maximizing your potential at work is no different than other habits like going to the gym or cooking healthy dinners—you need to build time into your schedule to make sure that it becomes a routine part of your life.
You’re only partially maximizing your potential. You have some of the key ingredients, but there are others that are missing. You may not be in the right environment, or you may be in the right company, but the wrong role. Only you know which one it is. If it’s the former, take this as a sign to start looking for a job that’s a better fit for you. If it’s the latter, there may be an opportunity for you to take the reins of your career and reinvent how you work in your current position.
For starters, be proactive about reshaping your role. You can do this by talking to your manager about the possibility of shifting your responsibilities and taking on different projects—specifically projects that engage and energize you. Make it clear that you’re still invested in your job, but that you’d like to start actively working on adding to your skill set and challenging yourself regularly.
Secondly, think about the goals of the organization you are in. Are there innovative ways that you can use your strengths to help the company reach those goals? Is there a skill you’d like to learn that you think would result in the company reaching its goals? For example, the company needs to update its site, and you want to work on coding.
Pinpoint teams and projects that are understaffed, and challenge yourself to help out. If you keep hitting dead ends in your attempts to take on specific projects, then it may be a sign that you’re no longer in the right company.
You’re bored, frustrated, and not in the right job for maximizing your career potential. You also probably already know this, but you have not gotten up the confidence to make a change. You also may be unclear what else you can even do. The reality is that you’re investing at least eight hours a day into something that is not fulfilling your soul or engaging your intellect.
Yes, changing jobs can be difficult, but having a sense of daily engagement and excitement is your birthright and can even help you live longer. Find some support, take some time to re-think your career strategy, and figure out what you’re passionate about. (Or if that’s too cliché for you, go this route instead.)
Whatever you do, stop accepting a mediocre career as the best you can do. Everyone has something to offer the world, and the world needs more people engaged and excited about their unique contribution.