You control your own destiny. The times when you worked at a company for 40 years and got a solid pension is over. The company was your safety shield. If you followed orders, didn't piss anyone off and executed you'd be good. In these crazy COVID times companies are laying off their "loyal" employees as quickly as they can to stay afloat.
As turbulent as these times are I also think they're very exciting. The person who follows orders and doesn't do anything extraordinary is at risk. That was the safe thing to do before and now I think it is the least safe thing you could possibly do.
A good test that I like to think through is if there was a group of people who decide my faith at a company.....what would they say about me? Would it be hard for them to think of anything? Do I just do the basic stuff and stand out at NOTHING? Or am I seen as the most innovative thinker in the group? Or am I the person that needs to be brought in to think through a startup challenge?
The follower and order taker is the person who people have a hard time thinking of things that make them astounding. I have been in the room when talent is discussed and it's very awkward when names are brought up and there is a room of silence. No one has anything to say??? Not good.
Sadly, many times these people are doing exactly what's on their work plan. Checking off boxes. Updating their manager every week on progress. The manager is nodding. The manager isn't hearing anything negative. That doesn't sound bad, right?
You do not want to be this person. I actually think it would kind of suck to be this person. Just doing what needs to be done. Not leveraging an exceptional talent. Not pushing the team or org in a unique direction. Not making the organization better in any way.
It takes some guts to push outside of what's on your work plan. It's not easy. No one gave you permission to think more broadly than that, right? I am hear to tell you that you don't need permission. Do it. Your organization needs your smart mind operating at the highest levels. Not just pushing paper around.
YOU need yourself operating at the highest levels. That gives you energy. People WANT to be challenged at work. Challenge yourself if your work plan isn't delivering on that. Plus, you need to stand out in some way. Delivering the work plan is no longer enough. EVERYONE is delivering the work plan.
Find a place where something could be done better and do it. Period. Take on the challenge. Bring in people. Update your manager on what you're doing. Make. It. Happen.