How to Thrive in Your Career Wherever You’re Planted
I grew up on a lake outside of Chicago, with two sides of our yard bordered by lilac bushes. We had the standard lavender color, a white one, and my favorite—the deep violet with flowers that were fatter, bigger and, to me, the most beautiful.
I lived in Florida for many years, and not having the fragrance and beauty of lilacs to drink in every May are among my biggest sacrifices in relocating to a luscious semitropical clime.
I even researched growing a lilac bush in a pot in FL —until I learned that they need to freeze during the winter to bloom. I could grow one, but likely it wouldn’t flower. Pot living outside the temperate zone just isn’t where lilacs thrive.
Unlike my lilacs, though, if you are planted in a job that isn’t the optimal environment, you can still bloom and grow.
Following these care and feeding instructions can help your personal job satisfaction and support your career skills, reputation, and network—which ultimately can help you when you decide it’s time to transplant yourself into a career climate more suited for you to flourish.
What You Feed Grows:
Focus on what you DO like and appreciate about your job, your work, and the people around you daily.
- Is your boss supportive, even though you don’t like the company policies?
- Do you love the tasks, the work itself, but just need a different environment to blossom?
Feed what helps you grow, not whither.
Each break time, focus on your wonderful coworker(s), without whom you would have torn your hair out ages ago. Remember your favorite customers, who always brings a smile and a funny story. Consciously appreciate how much you are learning and the new skills and experiences you are gaining that really improve your resume (and future job prospects). Find whatever ways you can to feed your appreciation, or at least your staying power.
Adapt Your Environment:
Ultimately I decided that my friend’s idea of getting a local restaurant to let me haul my lilac into its walk in freezer every winter was a bit more than I wanted to do to enjoy the blooms in Florida. I could have tried this, maybe, but it just wasn’t ideal! Now think about your garden: Do you provide artificial shade for a plant that needs it in an otherwise great spot in your yard? You have to add nutrients to grow a lot of nonnative plants in Florida’s sandy soil.
If your working environment isn’t ideal, is there a feasible adaptation that could improve things for you?
Maybe a different desk location, a new department or team, or a slightly different focus or change to your job description would make some positive difference. A good boss should want good employees to flourish because they perform better. You never know unless you ask for an adjustment.
Remember the Concept of Companion Planting:
“Companion plants assist in the growth of others by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, or providing nutrients, shade, or support,” says Wikipedia.
Use strategies on the job such as asking to cross train with another department to serve as back up (which also makes you a more valuable employee).
Make sure you regularly make new contacts and maintain your network of relationships within and outside of your work life, which are win-win tactics for you and others.
Grow your garden smart—find ways to complement your skills and those of others. Being connected and seen as a team player are great ways to increase job satisfaction and prepare yourself for your next season in another field, too.
Grow and Support Your Roots:
As mentioned above, your network of contacts (in house and in your industry) and your personal groups all need nurturing so they grow deep and sustain. Without regular connection, they can shrivel and die.
LinkedIn is such a great tool nowadays to keep in touch, but regular old-fashioned phone calls, coffee meet ups and emails are also common, easy, and effective ways to stay connected with people.
Make sure you send helpful info, “just saying hello” notes, congrats on milestones, and other content of value to maintain and build relationships.
We all know the people we ONLY hear from when they need something from us—and how that feels. Real relationships are more than “what you can do for me”—so reach out with genuine interest and your contacts will like, trust, and respect you (as well as be happy to help if and when you may need a hand!).
Prune and Weed Out Whatever Limits You:
What unhealthy habits, inefficient processes, toxic people, etc., are like weeds in your career patch, sucking the nutrients and stealing the sunlight? Get rid of them; change whatever you can that may be harmful to your own job satisfaction and growth. Especially if you are planted in a less than ideal environment for now, and every small weed feels like it’s strangling the life out of you. Create the best conditions you can to help yourself thrive where you are now!
Don’t Get Poisoned—Fertilize:
We’re all human, so especially when we are somewhat unhappy it can be tempting to engage in the inevitable office gossip, clicks, or complaining. These will poison your soil and wilt your spirits!
Be solutions focused instead, adding essential nutrients, turning all that negative stuff into fertilizer—good energy, positive attitudes, creative ideas all contribute to your own, and your company’s growth—which inevitably help you and your career bloom where you’re planted, as well as where you’re bound to sprout up next!
A little TLC goes a long way:
We’ve all had jobs for one reason or another that are not ideally suited for us to thrive. That’s okay! You can still grow tremendously; it just may take a little extra care to help you bloom. Make sure you take really good care of yourself outside of work, too, with lots of rest, exercise, and fun to help your work time be more manageable and help you flourish over all.
Cultivate an Attitude of Service:
While we might not always love the work we are doing, we can always DO whatever work we are doing WITH love and an attitude of service. Bringing our best to any job inevitably helps us feel better and gets noticed by clients, customers, and supervisors alike.
With proper care and feeding, most any job can become an environment in which you can grow and prosper.
Pay attention to these best practices for cultivating your career and personal growth, and you’ll soon find yourself in greener pastures as you reach towards that sun.
“The nature of this flower is to bloom.”—Alice Walker
This article was originally published in Suncoast Transformation online magazine