By Sharine Sample, Regional Workforce Development Manager, Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina 

One of the most influential interviews I’ve conducted left me with something I know I will question the rest of my career. In response to one of my questions, this candidate said, “my career is at a different place now. I’ve been to the mountain top and achieved everything I wanted to.”  I thought about that profound statement that whole afternoon and have periodically returned to it since then – have I reached my mountain top? If not, what is holding me back from making the climb to where I want to be?

There are 42,103 vacant positions alone on Indeed as of December 1, 2021. That is mind-blowing! That means there are plenty more open positions on other job search platforms not listed and additional job vacancies that aren’t publicly posted or promoted. Given that startling reality, there are limited obstacles for people wanting to begin their own climbs.

Here are three essential tips to help you reach your “career mountain top”:

People get complacent. Merriam-Webster essentially defines complacency as “a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better: a complacent feeling or condition.”  In today’s work society, how many people are complacent? We’re human and it happens. Life happens. What is holding you back from achieving job goals and the career you’ve dreamed of? Are you settling because you’re satisfied where you are at in your career or are you complacent because the motivation you once had is no longer there or as strong?

Motivation. Motivation is the second point which tags along closely with complacency. Motivation is essentially your “engine” that helps you run the race that was set before you. Motivation is the key to you staying put or reaching for more. It helps you in your climb to the mountain top. You get in what you put out. Here is the kicker with motivation – no one can do this part for you. Motivation is the fire you set inside yourself to help achieve what you want to get out of life. Let me emphasize again – you get in, what you put out.

The last thing in reaching your mountain top, is perfecting your path. The path to your mountain top doesn’t have to be straight up and, if you’re like me, there’s no easy way to map how to get there. Sit down and brainstorm your interests. If you are satisfied and happy in your current career and role, how can you get more out of your job now? How can you advance with your current company? That might be a conversation and an opportunity for you to sit down one-on-one with your supervisor and discuss. If you’re in a career or job that doesn’t feel right for you anymore – how will you begin to change that? In today’s world, you might have to have a side hustle in addition to your current job to survive – and that’s perfectly fine. Maybe your mountain has two paths to the top. If you’re just starting out in the workforce, what do you want to do with your life? Narrow your path and make sure it has meaning.  It doesn’t have to be straight, and most likely won’t ever be. Your path just needs to reach your mountain top and no two paths are the same.

Let’s return to that candidate’s statement on which I’ve been ruminating: Have you reached your mountain top? During the holidays, take some time to reflect on your career path. What brings you joy and what could change? We all have a New Year coming up and with that can bring a world of opportunity. January is the perfect time to hop out of complacency, find your motivation and perfect your path to reach the mountain top destined for you.

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