What it Means to Progress

Being promoted to a new position is a clear sign you’re progressing your career.

But it isn’t the only one.

Trainee. Associate. Partner. When I joined Allen & Overy as a fresh faced trainee at the start of my legal career, I thought those were the only indicators of career progression.

It’s true that with every year that passed post qualification, there was the notional promotion of having one more year’s PQE under my belt, but this was automatic. As long as I didn’t majorly mess up, it happened by itself. I thought the only progression milestones to be had were the ones that came with a shiny new title and a bountiful boost to my bank account.

I had no idea how wrong I was.

When you measure career progression in promotions alone you do yourself a massive disservice. You lose out on the motivation, recognition and confidence that you get when you take deliberate steps to get better at what you do and how you do it.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines progression as “a gradual movement or development towards a destination or a more advanced state”. Or in my words, it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey you take to get there and who you become along the way.

If you wanted to lose 10 kilos, you would consider every bar of chocolate you refused, every green juice you chose over a fizzy drink and every kilo you lost a progression towards your goal.

If you wanted to run a marathon, you would consider every mile run and every strength-building session completed a progression towards your goal.

It’s exactly the same with your career.

  • Starting to speak up in meetings because you found your voice.
  • Being able to walk into any room and speak to people you don’t know.
  • Being more efficient and productive because you learned how to stop overworking.
  • Feeling grounded and in control because you learned how to stop overthinking.
  • Avoiding burnout because you learned how to set better boundaries.
  • Getting the support you need because you learned how to ask.
  • Rapidly growing your expertise because you learned how to grow from negative feedback.

Getting a new title isn’t the only form of career progression. It’s not even the best one. It is gradual movements like those above that change you. Shape you. Build you. These are the incremental breakthroughs you want. Chase them, accomplish them, and the rest will take care of itself.

Happy Friday,


P.S. In Imposter Speech Coaching you progress your career breakthrough by breakthrough. We go after the small wins, the big wins and everything in between. And we recognise and celebrate you every step of the way. Enrolment for the July 2022 class opens on June 10th. Join the waiting list and you’ll be the first to hear.

P.P.S This week on the podcast, incase you missed it: why you must understand and anticipate the events that trigger your Imposter Syndrome. Listen to Episode 125: Imposter Syndrome Triggers here.

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