Sometimes as an adult, I still feel like Angelica Pickles in that episode of Rugrats where they're all adults — except they're just elongated versions of their baby-selves. Like Tommy still doesn't have hair or teeth but he can drive a car and wear a blazer. So even though I've been working professionally for over a decade, I still feel like the concept of a career is a far-off, super adult idea.
Alas, at some point in our professional lives, our jobs do turn into careers, and sometimes it happens without us even noticing it. Maybe you were too busy keeping your head down to get the work done. Maybe you were too distracted by the other important events in your life. Maybe you were just starting to think your hard work wasn't amounting to anything. But careers don't bloom over night. They take long hours, commitment, trust and dedication — so if you have one, you worked hard for it.
And when you're growing your career, a mental shift occurs — suddenly you realize that what you're doing is not just labor in exchange for a check to pay your rent. Suddenly you realize you enjoy your work, you feel like you're making a difference, you feel like you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. When this happens, your career begins. These are five turning points you'll have as you begin your career.
When You Get Your First Real Review
The first time you get a positive performance review is the first time you might feel like you're worthy of a career. A lot of our early 20s are characterized by critiques and constructive criticism. But when you start to receive praise for your work, you start to see more value in yourself and that gives you the confidence you need to go forward.
When You're Promoted For The First Time
Once you're given an opportunity to take another step in the door with a company, you invest a little bit more of your heart with them. When you move from an entry-level position to a specialized position, you're telling yourself and the world that you're committed and you're moving up.
When You Can Truly See Results Of Your Work
When you start to realize the impact your work has on the company and the world around you, it's an important milestone. Knowing the gravity of your work really bonds you to it. A little bit of perspective can make you see your career in a new light. If people rely on you, you're in a powerful position. It means your hard work is paying off.
When Your Work Starts Affecting Your Lifestyle — For The Better
Naturally, your life will change as a result of your work. When you've managed to secure a lifestyle around your job that works for you, it's an important turning point. It means you're in it for the long run. It means your career is important enough to you that you are willing to compromise other parts of your life to make it work.
When Your Goals Finally Come Into Focus
In order to have realistic goals for yourself and a logical plan for the future, you have to have a really good idea of where you stand. In order to have that clarity, you have to be at a certain stage in your career. You have to know the industry, you have to understand your strengths and weaknesses and you have trust that the industry needs you. If you can make lofty goals for yourself, congratulations — you're worthy of accomplishing them!