Over the many years I’ve worked in the professional development space, I’ve heard a lot of advice and tips on navigating your career!
I’ve kept an informal, ongoing list of the ones that really resonated with me and have seemed the most helpful to others.
If you’re in the midst of a career pivot or transition, I find these can be helpful to keep things in perspective, remember to not get bogged down, and not forget the small things that are actually important.
Here are my five favorites:
1. Create your own Compass
One of the best books on navigating your career I’ve ever read is Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by two Stanford professors, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans Go read it.
They write, “There are lots of powerful voices in the world, and lots of powerful voices in our heads, all telling us what to do or who to be. And because there are many models for how life is supposed to be lived, we all run the risk… of accidentally using someone else’s compass and living someone else’s life.”
Don’t get swept up in someone else’s version of what your life ‘should’ be or ‘could’ look like.
Get your own compass and don’t worry so much about your life and career looking different than your friends and family. Find out what matters to you and what you get really jazzed about. Create your own compass finding out how to create a career that motivates and excites you.
2. Go Ahead! Think About the Worst Case Scenario
When you get caught up thinking about the worst case scenario or all the downsides that might result from going down a specific path try this:
Write down the absolute worst thing that could happen. And write down how likely is it to happen. And imagine what you’ll do if it does happen.
Could you live with it? What would come next?
This has given me a lot of perspective.
When I was thinking about starting Pivot Journeys back in 2015, I did this and figured the worst case scenario was spending $30,000 in the first year, having only a handful clients, and finding out my approach didn’t resonate with people.
Then I figured, if that happens I’d have to go find another job. And you know what? I decided I could live with that.
What I couldn’t live with was the regret I’d have by not trying.
Obviously my worst-case scenario didn’t happen (WHEWF!)… But even if it had, I knew I would eventually figure out what to do next. Like so many people do every day.
So really... think about what that worst-case scenario looks like to you in whatever career transition you’re thinking about.
I’ll bet that the worst-case scenario isn’t worth not trying something or taking a chance.
3. Don’t Wait Till you See the Edge of the Cliff
The biggest ‘mistake’ I see people make in their career is waiting too long to start figuring out what they want to do next when they’re miserable and burned out in their current job.
If you are mentally exhausted, emotionally drained, angry, frustrated, upset, or demoralized, it’s impossible to approach your career with a positive, progressive, and success-driven view.
And you really need that in order to make good, strategic decisions, let alone be someone who people want to hire!
Don’t wait till you’re about to jump off a cliff to start the process of figuring out what comes next.
When you hit a rough patch, it’s hard to get excited and feel positive about your career.
So if you feel like the edge of the cliff is less than a year away, START NOW! I promise it will make it much less painful.
4. Focus on The Process Not the Outcome
Most of the time we focus too much on ‘the how’ during a career transition. How would I pivot into this type of role? How would I get my foot in the door in this company?
While figuring out the path is important, most of the time we lose sight of the process being the more important element in a career reset.
If you’re thinking about a somewhat significant pivot, it may be wise to test out a piece of it first, or talk to others who have made similar pivots to understand what to expect (and not just how they did it!). You wouldn’t buy a $1,000 suit without trying it on (and probably trying on at least 10 or 15 other suits!), reading reviews, and looking at the return policy. When buying something big, we’re cautious and want to sift through our options and be confident we made a good decision. Your career is more important than a fancy suit! So why not take that same approach to navigating your next career move?
Focus on the process, not the specific outcome. Committing to a robust and strategic process will lead you to great outcomes.
5. So, About those ‘Dreams’…
With social media today it can feel like if you’re not ‘living your dream’ or ‘making your dreams come true’ that you must be failing, or at least flailing.
And if you’re someone who doesn’t have a clear dream then you probably feel overwhelmed and like there’s something wrong with you.
Ed Helms, from The Office said in this awesome podcast that, “Certainly your career, and life in general, is just a series of false horizons and you never really feel like you’ve got it all under control.”
(Whether you're an Office fan, or just want to think big-picture about life goals and how things unfold, it's a great podcast to listen to!)
How many times have we all thought ‘when I get this job, or get to this level, I’ll be all set, I’ll be happy, and have it figured out.’
But then you get to that point and it might not be what you hoped it would. Even if it is, at some point, you still find yourself thinking, ‘what’s next?’
I found some inner peace once I really allowed myself to understand, (and be ok with!), the idea that you never totally feel like you have it all figured out. And that everyone is constantly trying to figure it out.
So just enjoy the journey (we are all on it!) and try not to panic or get too stressed about it.
Got a piece of advice or tip related to navigating a career reset that you’ve found particularly helpful? I would love to hear it! Really. Email me.