Why Challenging Yourself Can Be The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Career

by Feb 15, 2017

Challenging yourself shouldn’t be scary, it should be rewarding

Challenging yourself

Learn to challenge yourself


My sister shared a story about how in playing ping-pong with her grandson recently she was able to win matches. Her grandson was in the process of learning a new technique of spinning the ball, and while ultimately this new technique should give him the upper competitive hand, in the interim, the learning curve has been slowing him down.

I could sense her admiration for her grandson, as he focused in on a goal and was willing to lose a few matches in order to achieve a greater vision. His ability to embrace the discomfort of change was empowered by his confidence in the future.

Read: 10 ways to make challenges work for you

This immediately made me think of my careerist clients, many of whom have not experienced the discomfort of job search in a very long time–or perhaps ever. When preparing to change career course – whether prompted by a layoff or by an internal desire to jump ship for something newer and more challenging – unfamiliar, uncomfortable and vulnerable feelings often emerge.

Moreover, once they have made the decision (or are forced into the decision through being let go) to make a career move, careerists often want to move quickly. Their desire to take action and ensure their next-phase job goal materializes puts them in a sense of overdrive, often empowered by anxiety.

To ask them to slow down a bit and embrace the learning curve of depicting their value through an articulate series of story points and portfolio messaging feels uncomfortable and frustrating, and initially deflating. That being said, this time of discomfort is where the true growth happens. [Tweet “Challenging yourself may seem daunting but now is the best time to do it.”]

Here are three tips to help you embrace this period of time:

Learn to love the resume building process

Career Plateau

Don’t dread the resume process, embrace it

[Tweet “Shaping a new resume, while not a one-two punch, is in fact exhilarating for you and your career”]. Perhaps the most integral part of the job search begins (and ends) here, as a resume stimulates and drives the overall conversation, from piquing employer interest through to the interview exchange and on to salary negotiation phases.

Tip: Remind yourself of the moments behind each job title and career achievement; it’ll help remind you of the joy you felt during that process.

Read: Banish the Boring CV: How to Add Flair to Your Applications

Stop staring at the watch

Clock watching isn’t helpful

While deadlines and specific time constraints should definitely be met, give yourself enough time to not have to worry about time. When the pressure of meeting a deadline is removed from the process there’s a greater likelihood you’ll let yourself enjoy it.

Tip: Once you sit down to exert these muscles, flip your phone over and turn away from all clocks, so that the temptation to measure time is removed.

Read: Your best job search year ever in 6 easy steps

Two steps forward, one step back is not always a bad thing

Stubborn or Smart?

Don’t be afraid of taking a step back

There are certain skills that call for multiple missteps before you’ve perfected them, try not to punish yourself for tripping through the process. Instead focus on how diligently you’re moving forward and challenging yourself.

Tip: Jot down words of encouragement on post-it notes around your workspace — they’ll be gentle reminders of why patience is key during this process.

Read: Unemployed? Here Are 5 Things You Should Do After Job Loss

The multifaceted introspective process involves digging into emotional and rational thought layers to enable gems to emerge. It may require you to lose a few initial interview opportunity matches to the other candidate while you up your game. In the long run though, the overall journey will be worth it.

Originally posted on LinkedIn on January 30th 2017

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Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, owner + Chief Career Writer at CareerTrend.net, is 1 of only 50 master resume writers + has crafted >1,500 interview-compelling career stories. Her BA in writing/journalism allows her to apply a journalist's eye to your career.
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