Professional Growth Plans

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


Moving up without losing your way

At what cost does that next promotion come? What is the price you pay for the advanced degree, and what’s the toll it takes on you and your loved ones?

For many, personal growth often comes before everything else. The results can be detrimental in many ways, as explored here. But…we have suggestions.


Problem 1. Financial burdens

Nearly everyone graduates with debt. CNN reports that the student debt burden in the US currently is $1.6 trillion.

In the last few years, student loan debt grew as fast as household debt in the United States. Currently, it is the leading type of household debt, second only to mortgages.

Even though most students go on to take more loans for masters, and Ph.D. programs, job prospects are not proportionately favorable. Employability depends on many things, including the health of the economy.

For graduates that manage to find employment, it can still be hard to pay loans because salaries remain relatively low. Family and dependents will bear the biggest brunt of your poor financial situation.

Solution 1: Consider professional certification programs after college. They cost just a fraction of the degree courses’ price, but they still bestow you with a title of credibility in your field.

Employers prefer certified individuals. They have relevant and practical skills and up-to-date knowledge.

Solution 2: Explore digital learning opportunities. Online courses are much cheaper than traditional higher education programs. And, you will have fewer expenses to incur throughout the course of your education.


Problem 2. Loss of social connections

The belief that you must lose friends to get to the top is an outdated fallacy. Friends have an essential role to play in your wellbeing and progression.

Every person you see shinning at the top has had a social pillar of support around them. Otherwise, how do you keep going when the stress of work gets to you?

Loneliness is nearly becoming a disease in our modern society. Even highly skilled employees risk developing mental problems if their social life is a mess.

People that solely focus on their career risk losing touch with their friends and family. The biological clock is ticking. And friends and family might not be patient with you forever.

Once it becomes clear that they are not among your priorities, they will walk away. For a long time, psychologists have based the happiness of a person on the number and strength of friends they have. So, choose wisely!

Solution 1: Wherever you are on the career ladder, make an effort to create and maintain friendships. Create time for your loved ones. Realize that a large majority of achievers regret when they find themselves lonely at the top.

Solution 2: Turn your work friends into lifetime friends. Career and social connections are not mutually exclusive. They can strengthen each other. Ask a colleague out for coffee and don’t talk about work.


Problem 3. Burnout and health issues

The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon that causes increased hospital visits.

That means that you are more likely to call in sick when you are overwhelmed and stressed at work.

Career coaches will advise you to take on many projects and ask for more responsibilities. Doing this, they say, positions you as an efficient and highly promotable employee.

But are you paying attention to your needs? Don’t bite more than you can chew.

Overambitious goals can leave you feeling empty and emotionally exhausted, drained of all motivation. Burnout can lead to stress at work and a horde of other mental health problems. Depression is top among them.

Solution 1: Know when to exit. Some work environments are just toxic through and through.

Poor management practices, unclear goals and task objectives, and poor employee support are some of the risks that contribute to mental health issues at work.

Solution 2: Upskill. Your work can be much easier and enjoyable if you do it excellently. Consider going back to school for a certification program that equips you with new proficiencies.


Problem 4. Being used

The path to the top, inarguably, entails working hard and going ‘above and beyond’. But there is a difference between that and being used. Are you somehow being taken advantage of?

If you are being used, you will know the signs. Suddenly your boss realizing you are an eager beaver, starts handing you extra work without asking whether you already have other assignments.

And then no one ever recognizes you.

You do your best and perfect for your job. You accomplish more in a shorter time and save your company a lot of money. But no one seems to notice.

Sometimes you find yourself doing the work of two people. Maybe someone got fired, or your colleagues are just lazy and like to delegate and sit back idly.

Other than the daily exertion from it, being used at work can lead to mental, behavioral and health problems. Don’t let it go on.

Solution 1: Speak up. Go over your workload and accomplishments with your boss. Let him/her see the challenges you face in keeping up with the extra assignments that everyone in the office sends your way.

Solution 2: Negotiate a raise and other benefits. A reward should accompany your increased responsibilities. Do you want a raise, a corner office, or paid vacation? Make your hard work pay.


The bottom line

Take back control this coming year. Don’t let career ambitions ruin your life. Approach your goals with a sober mind. Know your limits and live life as a whole. Your money matters.

Your friends and family also matter. Your health and wellness matter too.


Thank you!

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