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Professional Growth Means Challenging Yourself as Much as Knowing Yourself By Lindsay Pomazal

Growth can be just a more helpful way of packaging painful experiences.

We don’t grow through ease. We grow through challenge, hardship, and struggle. Much like personal growth, professional growth implies putting forth the effort to overcome something on the way to reaching a goal.

Many times in my career I have plateaued to the point where it became difficult to get through a day at work. I craved a challenge, engagement, and purpose.

It can be hard to ask for a challenge. So many people I know are stuck in jobs where they are either underwhelmed or overwhelmed with their workflow. They have no autonomy over that fact, and it dramatically affects how satisfied they feel at their job.

The narrative is so often, jobs we should be grateful to have, but are overqualified for or jobs that didn’t exist 5-10 years that put us in completely uncharted territory. Of course, there are people everywhere on that spectrum, but this generation more than ever seems to be in a completely different boat when it comes to professional growth/development and climbing the corporate ladder. The idea of the apprentice has been replaced with unpaid internships you might have done in college. The career landscape continues to evolve.

What if the job we are destined to do, doesn’t even exist yet? How do we also find a ladder to get us to those clouds in the sky?

My answer:
follow your interests and instincts.

What do you want out of life, and what do you actually like doing? In a world where society and the media tell us everything, take a step back to examine who you are. Existing in the young professional space is so much about deconstructing years of indoctrination, where someone - our parents, our teachers/professors, coworkers, and bosses have reinforced their ideas upon us.

Currently approaching the end of my twenties, I feel that I have spent the better part of 30 years living for a societal standard that was meant to keep my square pegged self in a round hole. Schooling teaches us basic knowledge and skills that enable us to be successful in life, but also pours our collective selves a big glass of the kool-aid everyone else has been drinking for a while now. In a world where people can make a living as artists on Etsy or creating the next Instagram app for a startup, why are we settling for less?

Professional growth to me means challenging yourself as much as knowing yourself. If you are stuck in a job you hate, take a good look at the things you enjoy and the things you don’t and spend some time thinking about why. How can you change that? What is missing? Do you need a mentor? Additional training? To develop a hobby? A career change? A job change?

Often growth can be so painful because it is bringing your Achilles’ heel to your attention.

Evaluate what parts of your career or personal life need work. Take an honest look at the areas that are lacking and instead of applying various self-judgments - see how you could improve them. Could you be attending more networking events and putting yourself out there? Do it. Could you be taking an online course to learn some additional technology for your dream job? Do it. Do you wish you were taking swing dancing lessons every week? Do it.

You never know what kind of crossover things can have.

I recently read an article about how working out regularly makes employees more productive. I don’t know if this is true, but I think if you are finding a way to be joyful outside of work, that will naturally filter down to your work life - whether that means you show up to your job, happier or you find a job that matches your new flow. It will happen.

Professional growth doesn’t have to be painful, but at the very least it may be uncomfortable. Making mistakes is part of life, and when you are learning a new task or skill, you will inevitably make mistakes. Take it all with a grain of salt, but follow your path. Don’t let others define it for you.


Lindsay Pomazal is a driven professional with over 10 years of diverse domestic and international workplace experience, proven success at relationship building combined with excellent research, critical analysis, and original content creation capabilities across multiple platforms.

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