Three ways women can refocus and realign their career aspirations in 2020
The pandemic and recent related events are forcing businesses to re-evaluate their plans and strategies. As we all adjust to new expectations and ways of doing business, each of us can take this opportunity to reassess and adapt how we approach our personal career goals and professional plans.
There is not a one-size fits all approach to personal and professional development. As women, we have unique backgrounds and experiences which make it almost impossible to suggest a cookie-cutter approach to achieving one’s career aspirations. Here are three approaches I’ve followed while navigating my career, even when external forces and unexpected circumstances are at play.
We are the architects of our future, but systemic barriers persist
Women are socialized from a young age to keep their heads down, focus on accomplishing their work, and hope their efforts will speak for themselves. Something I realized early on is it’s not enough to simply log the hours, I also had to think of myself as the architect of my future. I am responsible for the relationships, advocacy, and creativity to power and accelerate my career. Taking ownership of your career with this mental adjustment is a critical first step, but it doesn’t solve all the barriers women face.
Research shows the factors preventing women of color from advancing at work are not the same as those often quoted for women overall, like confidence, ambition, or determination. In truth, women of color are more likely to be held back from achieving their goals by systemic barriers including double standards and unconscious bias.
Harvard Business Review suggests corporations take these three steps to tear down barriers and support women’s access to leadership positions:
- Educate women and men about second-generation gender bias
- Create safe ‘identity workspaces’ to support transitions to bigger roles
- Anchor women’s development focus in their leadership purpose rather than in how they are perceived
The best leaders are the best learners
Regardless of what position you are in or where your company is, you should always be learning. This is critical to staying relevant. Learning is a nonstop process I challenge myself and others to embrace.
Time is one of the only things we’ll never get back and change is constant. If there is one thing, we should all be doing, it’s approaching life with a curious intent to learn. For me, embracing a mindset of lifelong learning has improved my decision-making ability, honed my confidence, and revealed opportunities that expanded my career.
You truly never know where a learning mindset will take you. During these challenging times, I’ve set aside more time to read and listen to help me navigate 2020 and inspire my teams to think in new and innovative ways.
Rise by lifting others
Strong mentors can provide sound advice and constructive feedback when necessary. Don’t let social distancing be an excuse to pause mentorship or networking. Conversations may look different as coffee chats and large networking events taking place virtually. It’s critical to continue to show up and engage during times of unpredictability. I believe mentoring is like a boomerang, what you give to others multiplies and comes back to you in many forms.
According to Harvard Business Review, “Facing an uncertain future, mentees — now more than ever — will leverage connections with mentors to lower anxiety, overcome imposter syndrome, and grasp hold of their mentor’s hopeful vision of how they can not only weather the storm but continue to thrive in their careers.”
While there is no one path for anyone to follow as they develop and grow in their professional life, these are some of the ways I challenge myself to think differently. I hope these concepts help you focus your thoughts and energy in a productive way forward.