1. Orientation: You figure out the rules of the game.
In the first phase, you engage in a variety of tasks for the very first time. As a result, you must act without always knowing what you're doing – an uncomfortable feeling if you're accustomed to competence and control. Simply living through the discomfort of feeling foolishly incompetent – getting to the point of doing something the second or the third time – will sometimes cure your career ills. To reduce your discomfort, identify sympathetic colleagues with more experience to turn to for guidance.
2. Challenge: You prove your competence.
During the challenge years, you operate along a stimulating learning curve, becoming more and more skilled. The challenge phase is particularly engaging and, as a result, little dissatisfaction emerges during this period. The risks, instead, are that you'll be assigned work beyond your expertise, or that you'll take on more work than you can competently handle. The key to continued satisfaction is to admit when you're in over your head and seek assistance.
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