I see a distinct parallel between an airplane flight and your career. While the pilot has the ability to fly anywhere in the country, she is committed to a specific destination for your flight. Of course, she is prepared to deviate for adverse weather conditions, but the goal and commitment is that the plane will land at its destination.
So, it should be with your career.
Too many careers get stalled, stuck, or derailed because executives get distracted by the lure of endless shiny bits along the journey. These shiny bits might take the form of challenging projects, parallel roles, new bosses, etc. The day might disappear in the smoke of putting out fires, or answering email, or delivering for other people’s needs. These day-to-day concerns happen, just like bad weather, but it is vital to keep the end destination in mind or your career goals might get pushed back to another day…another year…another decade…until you forget where you were going altogether.
Know your destination. Reverse engineer your career by thinking backwards:
What do you want your career and compensation to be in 5 years? In 10 years?
What skills and experiences do you need to learn to get to your goals? Where and when will you acquire them?
Who has the skills, persona, experiences, and successes that you could benefit from knowing?
Put a date on your calendar each quarter to check in with yourself. Are you still on course? Sometimes, even minor course corrections can significantly enhance the flight. As your own pilot, what do you need to do to stay on track?