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 a few years ago, I did this and figured the worst case scenario was spending $30,000 in the first year, having only a handful clients who didn’t have a good time on a Pivot Journey, and my concept of combining travel and professional development just wouldn’t resonate or work at all.
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. Find & Grab your Fuel
Whether you’re feeling close to that cliff or not, I cannot stress how much taking a timeout to evaluate, reflect, and plan is critical to making your reset strategic and successful.
I have seen so many Pivot Journey participants who now preach about the importance of getting out of your everyday environment to inspire, motivate and fuel a career transition.
And it’s because they experienced it – whether over a long weekend or a trip overseas, shaking your daily routine, trying new things, being in a new place and opting for a little adventure is the gasoline that gets your internal tank revved up to see where you want to go and get you there.
And if you don’t like to travel, that’s ok! You don’t have to travel to some exotic land to find your fuel – maybe it’s taking a new class, doing a different or new activity, or something else that gives you renewed, positive energy.
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.