By E. Elizabeth Carter
When you start to knit a sweater or scarf, you only have needles and yarn. As each stitch is completed, rows emerge and it starts to take shape. A career journey is very similar in that you start with yourself. Later you add a college degree or two, other technical skills, your responsibilities, awards, etc. so that you are now known as (add title). All that may be well and good but many people are starting to question if that title is really what they are all about. Aren’t you known for other things as well, but others have a tough time identifying you outside of your title?
Here is an exercise I suggest you try. In Column One, list all of the things you are good at. In Column Two, list the things you could be better at. In Column Three, list the things you are good at from Column One but hate doing. Finally in Column Four, list the things from Column Two that you truly want to excel at. If you are struggling compiling any of these lists, look at past performance reviews and ask others what they think. Once the lists are finalized, figure out how you want to be known. It would be awful if you are known as a great report writer but that skill falls under Column Three, or worse yet is that your boss does not suggest you get training/experience for things in Column Four because you never told him or her.
Just like knitting, it takes patience. You have to concentrate to knit otherwise you will drop a stitch and you may have to start all over again. You don’t necessarily want to do that with your career unless you plan on doing something completely new. The point is that you need to take that yarn and knit it into the career of your dreams. Changing colors or using different types of stitches is always challenging at first but over time it does get easier. This is the same with your career. Trying new things, meeting new people, taking a course that you never would have considered before, and also planning on how you will acclimate to the “new normal” (whatever that may look like) is exciting but you have to knit that first stitch. Trial and error works for both knitting and your career but having a pattern or plan always helps!