This is a lesson that I've learned after years of frustration. Unfortunately, I now see and hear this frustration when I'm out and about at professional gatherings, during professional developments and meetings--it even stalks me on my Facebook page.... People always complain about their current positions and feeling "stuck".
Fortunately, no one controls your professional fate. Repeat that one with me: NO ONE CONTROLS MY PROFESSIONAL FATE. Better? Here's why....
I preface by saying that I am by no means an expert, and am still navigating these professional waters, but here are a few tips that have helped me gain my peace of mind and see professional growth.
#1: Keep your eyes open. Years ago I learned to keep my eyes open. My company sends newsletters out consistently with opportunities for growth, as well as my administrator. One day, I noticed a request for a leadership opportunity and I jumped on it! I wouldn't have known about the role had I not been keeping up with the weekly newsletters. That one simple decision put me on a trajectory that enabled me to take on my new role.
#2: You have to make time. If you want to see professional growth or be exposed to new opportunities, you have to sacrifice some time. Attend an after school professional development, a weekend conference, volunteer for a committee...these are all things that require extra time. These are things that occur outside of our ordinary scope of work, but are necessary to help us expose ourselves to different people and material.
#3: Don't be afraid of stacking on an additional PURPOSEFUL degree or certificate. I always talk to people who are obtaining additional degrees that they don't think they will use or are unsure as to how to use them. BAD IDEA. Before I enrolled in school, I began to think about what I loved doing. I looked at job sites and surveyed requirements for jobs I might like to do. Then, I spoke with my college's recruiters. That work led me to a program that has been a game changer for me. I didn't waste my time on a program that would open doors, just not the ones I wanted. I found a program that is helping me reach my professional goals.
4: Don't pigeonhole yourself. The perk of being a classroom teacher is you have summers "off". Instead of teaching summer school at your school, go out and find a program outside of your company. Find a job that requires your skill set, but is not your normal 9-5. I work EVERY summer, but I manage to find positions that are not with my current company. As a result, I get an opportunity to work on new skills and meet new people.
5: Things are only a waste of time if you want them to be. I always maintain a "glass is half-full" mindset. I never look at ANYTHING as a waste of my time. There is ALWAYS something to be learned. Maximize these opportunities!
6: It's okay to leave a job if you are stagnant. Admittedly, this is a scary. Once those adult responsibilities kick in, it's difficult to leave the comfort and stability of a position. Now, I am not suggesting that you leave a position if you don't have another one lined up, that's ambitious and risky. I am simply suggesting that if you find yourself in a role and there is no room for growth, it's okay to move to a new company. Now don't change companies every three months, but if you know that you will remain stagnant, it may be time to update your resume and Indeed account.
As I said before, I am by no means the expert; however, these are lessons that I learned the hard way. If you're feeling stuck in your role, sometimes you just have to un-stuck yourself.