Pacing the Professional Development

I am an achiever. I am motivated by tasks, and lists, and ways that I can objectively see progress. It’s how I do my whole life, and it is what makes me pretty good at managing a department, and generally speaking my personal life (read: I walk the line between normal and hot mess instead of jumping head over heals into hot mess :P)

When I was younger, I was involved in a extra-curriculars and studied hard. A lot of clubs, plays, music, and youth groups, and studying to be an honours student. I did it all not because my parents put pressure on me (if anything they wanted me to slack off a bit), but because of the self satisfaction of achieving things (read: I really like crossing things off my list of things to do). I went from high school, to undergrad, to post grad and did an alright job at satisfying my own desire for self satisfaction of doing things to the best of my ability.

Now that I am a few years into my international career, the milestones of adulthood are a lot slower to realize. It takes time to save up to buy your own car, it takes time to develop deep professional skills, it takes time to reach a place to buy a house, or travel to a dream destinations. Whatever else your indicators for adulthood are – they all take time to realize.

This waiting game to achieve the next milestone feels trickier still by the culture of performance and efficiency that I feel I am a part of. The culture of a life of work – when we think of all aspects of our life in function as to how it relates to work. “I will spend 1.5 hours with a friend to get re-charged to be a better person at work and at home” or even just planning how we will spend our days even down to the 30 minutes to know when we are going to go to the next task, event, or place.

Recently, as an achiever, living in a world measured on performance, I feel like I am fighting my own instincts of working to over-achieve. I have been working with the same company for almost 3 years and I have watched as my colleagues and friends outside of work have high tailed it for senior management positions. I think that if I really truly wanted to get one of those senior management jobs, I could. I know how to schmooze, and I know that I am a fairly capable person. Knowing that I could get a higher position professionally and seeing others going for those higher position can make me feel rushed to do the same. But I am not confident that at this current moment in time, I am ready for these senior positions. It is my natural instinct to see this progression towards upper management and join the race to get to the top. But I’m not ready. I am still learning, I am still developing, I need to wait. A very new experience for me. I am trying to pace myself; not to end up with a work load or in a position that I simply can’t manage. I am intentionally choosing to stay in middle management so that I can learn more strategies and develop myself personally, so that when I get to the level that one day I hope to be at, I am ready and effective and can continue to feel good at what I do.

It is a new landscape; this world of letting myself exist for a while where I am instead of trying to move on and achieve the next thing. I hope that it really is one of those delayed gratification things in that one day I really will be able to achieve the next level of my professional career and not just survive it. Here’s looking at you future!


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