What's Your 'Best By' Date?


A wise mentor once told me that there comes a time in your career, the specific role you’re in, where you’ve both contributed (given) and learned (taken) 95% of what is possible, and the effort on the remaining 5% is rarely worth making the investment. It’s likely time to move on to a new role and career. Perhaps even in a new organization.

I’ve thought about this counsel hundreds of times over the years and have offered the same advice to countless others.

In this interview, Whitney Johnson shares similar advice but calls it a “Best By” date. Simply put, she suggests each professional role has an expiration date. How do you know if you’re there? Ask yourself some simple questions including:

  • Am I having fun?
  • Am I learning?
  • Am I asking questions?
  • Am I the one being asked questions?
  • Am I bored?
  • Am I losing curiosity?

Simple insights like these can help you discern where you lie on your learning curve inside your organization.

You have to own your career strategy. Your leader should be invested in it if they expect to keep you highly engaged and retained, but don’t ever outsource your career to anyone. It’s the same as abandoning it. Ideally, your organization is creating an environment where you can fulfill your multiple career objectives inside it, but this isn’t always the case, and is sometimes unrealistic.

Close your eyes. Envision the gas gauge in your car. Picture the neon orange needle. E (Empty) is the far left side of contributing/taking 100% and F (Full) is the far right side of contributing/taking 100%.

How close to the final 5% are you? Is it worth it?

Don’t leave the success of your first-level leaders, and your organization, to chance—download our complimentary guide today and help them make the mental leap to leader. 

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 23-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey’s On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Release: Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott authors a weekly leadership column for Inc.com and is a frequent contributor for Thrive Global. Previously Scott worked for the Disney Development Company, having grown up in Central Florida, and currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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