"My boss doesn't recognize my hard work." "I have a lot of potential but no one will give me a chance." "I deserved that promotion more than the person who got it."
I hear comments like those in my therapy office quite often. It's frustrating when your career isn't advancing as fast as you'd like. And it can cause you to doubt yourself--or maybe even cause you to question if you're in the right career.
The way you think about your career advancement affects how you feel and how you perform. If you're not careful, negative thoughts about yourself, your boss, and your career path could cause you to give up.
If your career isn't advancing as fast as you'd like, it's important to stay mentally strong. After all, you'll need mental strength to persist through the hard times so you can achieve your goals in the end--even if it's not happening according to your timeline.
Be Patient or Make It Happen?
While some people say, "Good things come to those who wait," others say, "Great things come to those who take action."
Hustle is valued over patience in today's world. It's implied that patience means you're passively waiting for someone to hand you something, rather than taking the action needed to earn your reward.
The "hustle hard" mentality can cause you to question whether you're lazy or whether you lack passion if you're not moving forward at the speed of light. It can feel as though being patient means you're settling for less or that you're allowing those around you to get ahead.
But keep in mind that impatience can lead to impulsive decisions. And being busy isn't the same as being productive.
Changing jobs, shifting careers, or giving up because you aren't advancing at the pace you'd like might be a sign you lack the mental strength necessary to stay the course.
So while you might feel like you're treading water just because you aren't getting promotions and raises on a regular basis, your time is well spent if you're acquiring new skills.
Identify What Is Within Your Control
Whether you're a real estate agent or a graphic designer, your career depends on factors that are outside of your control.
You can't force your boss to recognize your talent. You can't require customers to appreciate your efforts. You can't make your team leader assign you better tasks.
Even if you're the boss, you can't control everything. You don't control laws, the economy, or your competition.
Putting too much emphasis on the things you can't control will rob you of the mental strength you need to perform at your peak. In turn, your subpar performance could wreck your chances of advancement. If you want to do your best, you must stay mentally strong.
Get Specific Feedback
There may be times when you need to gather more information too. Perhaps your performance reviews offer vague feedback, like "Keep up the hard work." Or maybe your supervisors tell you, "We're grooming you for the leadership team but we'll need you to show us when you're ready."
If you're feeling frustrated because you don't know which skills need sharpening, ask. Don't settle for generic platitudes like, 'You're doing great." Find out specifically what you're doing well and what areas you should focus on improving.
Ask Yourself This Question Every Day
If you want to stay mentally strong, despite the slow growth of your career, focus on the things you can control--your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Keep a positive attitude and focus on your effort.
At the end of each day, ask yourself, "Did I sharpen my skills today?" The skills you are thinking of might involve technical skills related to your job, or they might refer to your listening skills if you're looking to improve your communication.
You can control how much mental muscle you build. And it's something you can proactively work on, even if you aren't advancing your career.
When you keep the focus on becoming better a little better today than you were yesterday, you'll stay mentally strong. You won't get distracted by office politics, workplace gossip, or unfair competition (all things that could stall your career even more).
And the best news is, by improving yourself a little bit every day, you'll increase the likelihood that you'll advance your career.