If you have 3-5 years of work experience in the same profession within a stage of fight, freeze, or flight you are a “teenage” professional. Follow the instructions in parentheses to identify your professional “age”:
• Baby: 0-2 years – You are discovering new ways to get moving, clumsily and enthusiastically
(Crawl around on all fours for 60 seconds before the end of the day)
• Teenager: 3-5 years – You are still trying to figure it out
(Say one of the following phrases aloud, 1) “Whatever!” 2) “I’m outta here!” or 3) “Nobody understands me!”)
• Grown Up: 6-10 years – You know a little something, something and you want others to know it
(Go boss the next person you see – in a nice way, of course)
• Fine Wine/Whine: 11 – 20 years – You’ve either aged gracefully or grumpily
(At the next meeting you attend, of any kind, contribute or complain – you choose)
• Salt Shaker: 21+ years – You add seasoning and flavor to the mix
(Option #1 – Stand up and dance like the T-Pain song instructs. Option #2: If you have a bad back or you have no idea who T-Pain is, shake a salt shaker
from your kitchen cabinet at dinnertime, instead.)
The professional “Teenager” can be complex, due to the additional freeze, fight, and flight stages. Freeze represents the professional who is apathetic and/or robotic in approach to responsibilities. Fight represents the person who is willing to tough it out through difficult decisions and directives at work. Flight represents the individual who has moved on mentally and/or physically to another opportunity.
The key to all of these “ages” and stages is to identify where you fit and consider the following questions:
What do you want to get out of your professional development?
What environment, tools, and roles would help you maximize your skills and passions?
To assist you in answering those questions, refer to the following 6 basic steps:
1) Self-Reflect – Review assessments, values, interests, and skills to guide next steps.
2) State Desires – Record what you want in your professional world – say it to yourself.
3) Share – Accountability is the key. Reference key people as guides in your journey.
4) Stay True – In all of your reflecting, desiring, and sharing, be honest with yourself.
5) Set Goals – Make them SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, & timely.
6) Start Over – Embrace the fact that this is an ongoing cycle.
Enjoy the process, learn from the pain, and live for the pleasure of your professional age. Keep growing!