Dear Coach Wolfgang,
How long does it take to reach professional development goals?
Great question. Tough to answer. Let me answer your question by way of a story. . .
“I’m frustrated and impatient and am ready to get back to normal life, Doc!”, I said.
“It takes as long as it takes, Amy.”, she replied.
My doctor’s statement does nothing to make me feel better. Clearly, I can’t wait much longer!
Hold on. . . what happened to me?
Let’s go back 8 weeks. My 4-year old was invited to a birthday party at a trampoline park.
I have been to these parties before. They are fun for both kids and adults. However, I had no intention of jumping.
My 4-year old pleaded with me to jump. So I bought the $2 socks and got ready to have some fun.
Fun was not in the cards.
I wish I could say that I was doing some amazing trick on the trampoline that caused my injury. Unfortunately that was not the case.
Instead, just as I got onto the trampoline, I had a freak accident. My ankle buckled and turned awkwardly to the right side. Then, because I was on a trampoline, my ankle turned awkwardly to the left side. I hopped off the trampoline, sat done, moved my ankle a bit and heard two pops. Uh oh. This is not good. Turns out I sprained both sides of my ankle and tore two ligaments near the back of my foot.
It takes as long as it takes
I have been blessed and have not had many injuries in my life. The injuries I did have happened in my 20s when I healed much more quickly.
Not this time.
So far, two weeks in a boot, and six weeks with an ankle brace. I decided I was going to heal as quickly as I can. I’m doing everything in my power to heal. I am going to physical therapy twice a week, doing the exercises at home in between PT sessions, not overdoing it so I don’t unintentionally re-injuring myself!
However, it is taking so much longer to heal than I ever imagined. My ligaments are on their own timeline. Yes, the steps I am taking are helping, but I cannot do anything else to make them heal any faster. That’s out of my control. I have to be patient and know that if I keep doing my exercises and doing the right things, my ligaments will heal.
It will take as long as it takes.
This situation reminds me of a job search or any professional development goal we strive for. We can’t simply move from wanting to change or wanting a new job and it happening quickly. It all takes time.
Reaching professional development goals
For a professional developmental goal, you can identify ways you want to change, identify the underlying beliefs and assumptions that caused your old behaviors, test out ways of new behavior, and so on. These are all necessary and positive steps.
However, you can’t put a timeline on this change.
You are going to make progress. You are going to take steps back. You are going to encounter barriers. The change will happen if you take those positive steps, but you can’t force it. You have to give up the anxiety of trying to make it happen faster than it can. Just continue to focus on progress.
Finding peace with your job search
The same can be said of a job search. You can state your goal, update your branding documents, network and build relationships, apply for jobs, etc.
You can take all these positive steps, but you can’t force the process.
Your will alone cannot simply make it happen. Again, keep taking the steps, learn from mistakes and keep at it. But, release yourself from the anxiety, the forcing it, focusing on the things not in your control. Those items won’t make the new job happen any soon.
Development goals, job searches, injured ankles . . . they can all end positively, but along with positive steps you can take, the results will take as long as they take.
Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.
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