Re-think your prospects

Hi John, perhaps there's something to the seven-year-itch theory after all! I admire you for taking a career break to travel: so many people are desperate to do the same but don't, terrified it'll look bad on their CV or worried they won't get a job on their return. So, respect! But one thing puzzles me: when you had your career break, why did you return to the same job? Did you really want to or was it an easy option? I can't detect any overflowing of enthusiasm for your job, so is your concern for your career success simply pragmatic rather than passionate? Follow my thinking as follows:

1. What prospects do you want? You want advice on improving your prospects. But what prospects would you like, and where would you like them, here or abroad, in this company or another, as an employee or entrepreneur? Those are your options. As a single, solvent young man, you're free to choose what prospects you'd like to work towards. Think about what would excite and challenge you. This is the time to be bolder in your aspirations and more dynamic in your actions.

2. What do you have to offer? Have you been proactive in coming forward with bright ideas and new initiatives to the powers around you? Begin to give more than your current job demands. Identify precisely what you can offer the company to support their growth and success? Continually think, " How can I be of service?" The trick is to make yourself utterly invaluable and indispensable, brimming with brilliant ideas to benefit the business. Those at the top will pray that you never leave and endeavour to keep you motivated and part of their future.

3. Get the truth. Be honest and ask yourself why you've not been promoted in the past. Self-awareness is vital if you are to adapt and change to get better results. You also need to know how the movers and shakers at work see you. Request a meeting and be prepared to handle whatever they have to say. It's possible your ambition will come as a surprise to them. They may be thrilled to hear that you're keen to move on and up. But do ensure the conversation is tipped in favour of your commitment and contribution to the company, rather than wanting to know what's in it for you. Talk of "we" rather than "I".

And don't call this meeting until you've practised your "service" modus operandi (as above) for at least a month.

4. Be upbeat and positive. Not only are you pleasant to be around but you give the impression of being in control, relaxed, confident, mature and able to handle stress. Your stength of character will become one of your talked-about assets.

5. Become more of an operator. Wherever you go from here, resolve to become more savvy in managing and promoting your career. Status and success matter to you, so don't be so coy in pushing yourself ahead. Decide where you want to be and if you aren't going to get there with this company, do the courageous thing and move on. You've got the itch. Take a good look within to find the best cure!

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO ME AT lifecoach@independent.co.uk . NO PROBLEM IS TOO BIG OR SMALL. The first 50 e-mails will receive a Fiona Harrold Online Life Coaching Course of their choice. Please visit www.independent.co.uk/legal for terms and conditions. Fiona Harrold is author of several self-help books including The 10-minute Life Coach, Hodder Mobius, £6.99; www.fionaharrold.com

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