It strikes me as a tragedy that many intelligent and driven professionals don’t achieve their full career potential. Smart, hardworking, talented individuals don’t feel they can progress and out of frustration many may leave their job or even their respective industry altogether. This is what I call Career Krakatoa – when negative eruptions occur that could have easily been avoided. Why are so many struggling to thrive? Here are the key things individuals can do to avoid Career Krakatoa.

Create Options for Yourself

Making sure you always have options means you never have to just put up and shut up. Instead of going down a mental wormhole of resentment when things don’t go our way, we need to create options by networking and meeting with headhunters to see what other opportunities are available. Knowing how to negotiate pay rises and understand your market means that, if you’re good at what you do and you’re not getting that pay rise, you can go elsewhere and get paid what you deserve. If you feel undervalued, why wait for things to get better? Be proactive and go out and create options for yourself instead of staying in a bad situation.

Define a Career Action Plan

Many people will have goals that they want to accomplish…a job promotion, salary increase, working for a certain company. However if there is no plan behind your goals you will never accomplish them. Clearly define not only the tasks you need to accomplish, but also key dependencies you have on others. Outline the risks that you can encounter and ways you will mitigate those risks. Set realistic target dates for when you need to complete tasks. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Build a Rapport with Potential Sponsors

Cultivating relationships through your work can be fruitful when it comes to career progression. Ticking boxes won’t get you promoted – who’s shouting about you in that room? That’s what gets you promoted. A sponsor is putting their reputation on the line by endorsing you and are more likely to sponsor you if they have worked directly with you and witnessed the quality of your work.

Change that Insecure Mindset

We need to deal with our own stuff and get out of our own way. By this I mean work on our insecurities, professional and personal. Challenge yourself over why that insecurity manifests itself in situations of conflict, so you don’t undermine yourself in a boardroom or client meeting. Many of us can be so self-deprecating, but if we want to be ambitious we need to change our mindset and be secure in our identity. We need to tackle our mental barriers so that being overlooked for promotion or victimised by an office queen bee doesn’t make our confidence and self-esteem take a tumble. When we feel the anger rising we can make a choice to switch it off and ‘take that feedback on board’ rather than getting defensive. If you’ve dealt with your stuff you’ll handle it in a different way. Get your mind right.

Do you want to stay stuck or change? Hoping that things are going to get better won’t work – what’s needed is conscious action. Let’s avoid career krakatoa and make sure you reach the summit