Money & Career
Career Rules Worth Breaking
6/29/2012 4:56:44 PM

Following the rules doesn't always lead to fulfillment, especially when it comes to your career. There are times when it's better to rock the boat, leave the office instead of working late, or (gasp) not apply for a promotion.

"Careers have come to define many people. They give their heart and soul to their job and for some, it works for them; but others are doing everything ‘right' and find their needs aren't being met,” explained Matthew McNally, MA, LPC, therapist with Solutions Employee Assistance Program. "For those workers, it's time to look at what they're doing and why they aren't fulfilled. Maybe they need to throw out the traditional keys to career success.”

McNally shared these common career rules that might be worth breaking:

Do Your Job. Period.

Doing what you were hired to do, and nothing more, will probably ensure your pay for another two weeks, and nothing more. Unless the corporate belt gets tightened. Then, bosses look at which employees have made themselves invaluable to the company.

Once you've mastered your job duties, pay attention to your organization as a whole. What are the buzz words around the office? Strategic development? Growth? Cutting costs? Come up with a few ideas and then talk to your boss about them. It doesn't need to be a formal presentation; just a few minutes and a few new ideas might be all that's needed for you to stand out from the rest of the cubicle inhabitants.

"Be realistic. If you're pitching ways to cut costs, don't suggest eliminating your office nemesis' position just to get them out of your hair. Cutting down paper costs, travel expenses or office parties are more realistic, and welcomed, suggestions,” said McNally.

Work Overtime.

When there is a big project and it's all hands on deck, yes, you should pitch in, stay late, give it your best effort and be a team player. Dedication is respected. But, burning the candle at both ends results in a pile of ashes. Nurture your creativity, hobbies, outside interests and just simple down time because it's an essential part of your total self. "Stressed-out people aren't able to give their best efforts. Guard your personal time so that you can give your best when you're on the clock,” he advised.

Get an Advanced Degree.

MBA's are valuable, but they aren't essential in many companies, especially forward-thinking, innovative brands. Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg were not advanced-degree holders, but they managed to do just fine. "Don't let the lack of a college or graduate degree dissuade you from moving forward,” he said. "On-the-job skill can often be more valuable than a piece of paper. If you have ambition and dedication, go for it.”

Apply for a Promotion.

The pressure to make more money or have a more prestigious title is an unspoken undercurrent in many business cultures. If you're not moving up, you're left behind.

"It's OK to not pursue more responsibility or additional travel, if that's not what you want. The added stress and time away from family may not be worth the extra money or the new title,” McNally said. "If you're fulfilled in your job duties and it provides the flexibility you need for other interests and family time, then give careful thought before making a change. Many people have accepted promotions only to ask for their old job back when they decide the view isn't better from the top of the corporate ladder.”

He continued, "Sometimes the standard rules don't apply. You have to do what works best for you and your unique situation. Your career path won't match your co-workers' or your friend's or your parent's, and that's ok. Some of the happiest, most peaceful people I come in contact with are the ones that are satisfied with where they are in life; they aren't consumed with getting ahead at any cost.”

Before blindly following a rule, question it to be sure it's right for you – and you're career.

Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Career

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