It’s an interesting balancing act that many come to in their careers: In some ways you feel very constrained, while simultaneously enjoying a multitude of options. It feels weird.
- The opportunities you’ve been given in recent jobs
- Your education, skills, and strengths
- The people and companies who would hire you today
- Scarcity of job openings
- The obligations you have to your family and others, especially financial
- Your current level of savings, that cushion against unexpected events
If you’re looking for a job that looks just like what you’ve been doing, these kinds of restrictions can drive you crazy. What do you do if nobody is hiring that kind of position?
Here’s the interesting part: You’re just a hair’s-breadth away from a dizzying number of options. OK, so nobody is hiring for the job that I was doing a few months ago. So what do I do?
- Different advice is bombarding me from every direction
- I could potentially do lots of things, especially with a little education
- I know quite a few people, who I suppose could help me in some way
It all comes down to making some choices so that I can make progress. I can’t explore 100 possible career paths simultaneously, or I won’t make any progress at all.
Here’s how to make progress: Make some choices based upon what you know now, imperfect as that is. Investigate, think, explore, and make a little progress. Decide whether this has been useful. Then repeat the cycle during your entire career.
Really? Really? Yes. Things are going to change so much during your lifetime that you have to get comfortable with this cycle of learning and adaptation.
There’s just no other way.
Good post, Carl, though Risk notion is missing. Cheers, CecileRay
Fair enough, Cecile! Here are a few thoughts.
First, the idea of risk is usually what holds us back from making any changes at all. In fact, one of the important concepts in change management is that you have to shift the balance so that people perceive the risk of changing to be less than the risk of NOT changing. That’s tough to do, even tougher to maintain over time.
When you apply this to your own career decisions, recognize that you have the tendency to think that staying the same is less risky than changing. It’s important to realize that you have the ability to shift the balance within yourself:
* Identify what’s attractive about changing. How is that compelling to you in some deep way?
* Investigate and explore. Many times you’ll find that changing direction isn’t as scary as you might have thought. But even if that’s not true, you’ll find information that helps you make a more informed choice.
* Give yourself permission to try and fail, to play. When you can explore an area without giving up much security, you’re more able to handle the consequences. In other words, start investigating your next career step before you give up your current job.
Risk is real, but you don’t have to let it immobilize you!