As you advance in your career or business, you’ll gain more and more opportunities – not only due to increased skill and expertise but also because you’re forming a stronger network of people who can make recommendations and keep you informed. Only a small fraction of those opportunities, however, are worth your time and resources. Here’s how to separate the junk from the gold.
The opportunity aligns with your personal values and vision.
Opportunities that are on track with what you believe in and want to do can feel effortless. They ensure that you can advocate for the work with authenticity and passion. That, in turn, helps others to view you as engaged and trustworthy.
The opportunity has the potential to serve as a stepping stone.
Some opportunities by themselves don’t look all that great. But they can be prerequisites for your real goal – for example, being a guest on a webinar or podcast to prepare for being a keynote speaker. Always have a long-term vision and try to see the many different options taking a specific action could create. The more options a single opportunity brings to the table, the more valuable it can be.
Everyone tells you to go for it.
To be clear, don’t be a doormat – you’re entitled to do your own thing, regardless of what others might think of you. But sometimes our own apprehensions or biases can get in the way and hold us back from seeing what we’re capable of or how something might benefit us. If everyone else is trying to convince you to move forward, try to look at the whole picture and ask yourself objectively why so many individuals think a specific direction is right for you.
You have a fantastic support network that will last.
It’s not unusual for real innovators to have to separate themselves from the pack and move forward on their own. But when it’s clear that your resources aren’t going to disappear and that you’ll be able to lean on good mentors for the entire duration of the work, you can often avoid or mitigate many of the risks you’d otherwise encounter. You might find it easier to problem solve and get through periods of emotional difficulty when you’ve got some stability on your side.
There’s clarity about your role and responsibilities.
People often try to get others involved in concepts as quickly as they can before they’ve really solidified their own purpose and objectives, or they purposefully try to remain vague about everything involved so they can manipulate you or back out later. But if you know exactly what you’ll be accountable for, and if there’s no ambiguity about how you will be able to serve or grow, then the odds of these kinds of issues are much lower. Clarity also makes it easier to see the potential progression from one opportunity to the next.
You can connect with people who resonate with you.
In some instances, your work might not be all that much to crow about. But the relationships involved in the opportunity could be valuable enough to make the opportunity worthwhile. For example, you might get hired to do basic clerical work, but if that clerical work is for someone like Warren Buffet, the odds are pretty high that you’d score some fantastic insights and get introduced to plenty of other people who could help you in the future. People who share your interests can also help keep you motivated.
You’ll be able to constantly learn or train.
No good opportunity should leave you the same as you were when you first came on board. If the choice in front of you allows you to train, travel, meet others, or experiment, then it’s probably a safe bet. Those types of opportunities demonstrate that those who will supervise you believe in the value of self-development and understand that, by supporting your growth, they help their own vision. Just make sure that the opportunities for growth represent what you really want and need. Many organizations are disconnected from their workforce in this way and have a plethora of programs that go untapped.
Just because an opportunity falls into your lap doesn’t mean you have to take it. To feel truly fulfilled, focus on taking only those opportunities that meet the above criteria. Just remember that although others can make recommendations for you, you’re ultimately the one in the driver’s seat – you get to decide how and when you take your career to new heights.