Paying Your Dues: Productive or Problematic

by Diana Habich - Date: 2007-01-25 - Word Count: 669 Share This!

How many times has someone said, "You have to pay your dues just like everyone else" in response to your impatience at not being precisely where you really want to be?

How many times have you used the phrase, "I'm paying my dues" to justify your being somewhere other than where you want to be?

It's easy to get stuck in a state of perpetually "paying ones dues". The challenge is to differentiate between times when patience is appropriate and the times when it's an excuse to play it safe to avoid change and risk. Why do we get stuck? It may be we've invented some myths about paying our dues.

After a few years in the work force and some self exploration, Ivy, an accomplished executive, realized that she needed a change. She explored new opportunities and identified college coursework that would aid her in her career transition. Completing her advanced education she was ready to flip the switch and embark on her new career path. One problem remained. With no previous experience in the field, would anyone meet her salary requirements?

Ivy's myth was, "I'll have to take a pay cut if I change my career path", which stated another way was "It's not possible, so I'll have to settle". Resigned to paying her dues she accepted a transfer to an entry level position within her current organization. Yet, one day on a lark, she applied for a position with a recognized leader in the industry. Surprise! She was not only offered the position, but was pursued with an aggressive salary package.

So was the story she told herself the truth or a myth she created to justify paying her dues? The truth is it may or may not be possible to get what you want right away but you won't know unless you try. As in Ivy's case, attractive candidates are more than the sum total of their experience. Attractive candidates possess skills and character that extend beyond their current role and industry. Individuals who possess these skills will always be successful because they chose to be so.

What dreams and desires are you selling short believing you have to pay your dues?

Myths about paying our dues influence our goals and expectations. Patrick joined a new sales organization with an eye on advancing his career. With a previous track record of success he was determined to learn a new sales process, increase his income and get on the management fast track. He was prepared to patiently pay his dues to achieve these goals. For three years he struggled adapting and he was no closer to achieving his income and career goals.

Patrick's story caused me to wonder about his goal. Was his goal to be successful in this specific position or was it to achieve a new level of success? Believing he must pay his dues, Patrick was running in place with no evidence to suggest that one day these dues would be paid in full. By clarifying his goals, Patrick freed himself to move into a new organization better suited to his strengths where he proceeded to set the world on fire achieving his long term goals.

What measurable progress have you made to move closer to your goal?

I've always been an advocate of the patience and long term thinking associated with paying your dues. Ivy paid her dues investing in additional education; Patrick paid his dues gradually building his career within a new organization. If you're always taking on new challenges, you'll always be paying some kind of dues. However, never lose sight of why you're paying them and keep in mind no bell will ring telling you they're paid in full.

Paying Your Dues Tips:

Get clear on your goals & revisit them often.
Define benchmarks for progress to avoid running in place.
Test out your stories. Are they fact or fiction?
Determine what "paid in full" looks like.

If you are stuck in a rut paying your dues and need some additional support visit our site to learn more about the coaching process.

Related Tags: career change, career development, career planning, career management, career transition

Certified by the International Coaching Federation, Diana Habich combines the best practices in coaching with 18 years of corporate sales experience to help clients achieve their sales and career development goals.

If you're ready to start playing a bigger game or have questions about coaching, visit to learn more about how a certified coach can help you clarify your vision, design an effective strategy and take the actions you need to realize your career, income and personal goals.

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