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Career Goals – Know When to Quit

When I was leading Leadership Development for OppenheimerFunds I told my boss, the head of HR, that one of my career goals was to be an HR generalist. He said, in his lovely British accent, “Shari, you’re very good at what you do, and you would be a terrible generalist. You will never be a generalist here.” At the next company, I also told the hecareer goalsad of HR that one of my career goals was to be an HR generalist, and he too said, “You would be a terrible generalist. You won’t have that role here.” I could have left that company and chased my desire to be a generalist, or I could have listened to people who saw something I didn’t. I listened.

Sometimes others can see things we can’t and it makes sense to listen. That’s actually my definition of a coach – someone who can see things that we can’t, and they’re willing to tell us.

If you’re serious about achieving your career goals, consider these six practices:

  1. Identify what you want to do.
  2. Share your career goals with people who can help you achieve them.
  3. Ask people you trust and those in a position to help you achieve your career goals what may prevent you from having what you want. Obstacles might be organizational (i.e. the job you want doesn’t exist at your company) or they might be personal (i.e. you don’t have the skills, acumen, or temperament for the job you want).
  4. Work to develop skills you’re missing.
  5. Accept things that might prevent you from getting what you want, i.e. I don’t have the temperament to be an effective HR generalist, and I never will.
  6. Decide when to stop pursuing a goal. Make peace with that decision. And move on to something equally, if not, more compelling.

Most of us were raised to believe that quitting is taking the easy way out and that to quit is bad. I don’t know about that. Sometimes you have to listen to the feedback the world gives you and act accordingly.

career goals

About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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One Response to “Career Goals – Know When to Quit”

  1. Kyle says:

    So relevant for me. So often in L&D you see a requirement to be an outstanding, vibrant stand up trainer with mad people skills. They also often want the E learning skills of a developer. While I do know a few people who possess both skills, I mostly know people who do an outstanding job with one requirement and an adequate job with the other. The very thought of locking myself in a room for days at a time to build e learning makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    Here’s to all the great friends and coaches who steered me to what I’m good at AND enjoy!

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