Here are great guidelines to consider as you turn your dream about reinventing yourself into a realistic approach to do just that. Many of the points we work through in Now What?® are part of this process:
- doing your research on your “dream job”
- putting the right support in place
- realistically assessing what will be needed to make the change (financially and otherwise)
- knowing yourself well – strengths, weaknesses, needs and values
Exploring next career moves, doing a job search or starting a new endeavor like your own business are all daunting and often, frustrating propositions. Many times you’ll come up against a lack of results or clarity that dumps a heap of hopelessness on you in the from of “I want to quit!!” Should you?
To quit or not to quit? What do you think I’m going to say? No! Of course, you don’t quit. Not yet anyway.
I always say: “ Life will tell you if you’re wrong. YOU don’t need to decide”. Roadblocks, a lack of results, obstacles and setbacks—those could all certainly be interpreted as life saying, “give up”. But maybe there’s another message.
If you were running a race or working out at the gym and you experienced pain, you’d have the choice to stop or to work through it. Most athletes work through it being sensitive to the threshold where they’d cause major injury. The smart ones also know to build in recovery time in between the big competitions or work outs.
When it comes to your exploration or ramp-up, ‘pain’ can mean, “Wait!” Just pull back, observe, divert your attention to something else to gain perspective and then
re-engage. Taking your foot off the accelerator and coasting in ‘neutral’ for a bit can go a long way to knowing whether to proceed and how to do so or whether to redirect your energies to something else altogether.
Maureen is Senior VP in the finance industry and she has been on a campaign to further her career. She knew it wasn’t time to begin a job search but she did feel that strategizing a way to be better known and more valuable in her organization as well as her industry at large, was necessary to her future plans. She made a Herculean commitment to networking and even cold calling at an ambitious pace of several times a week. She was quite successful and then hit a wall. People weren’t calling back at the same rate, the lunch meetings weren’t happening and the pipeline was drying up. There was some harsh self-criticism, berating herself for quitting her pace, but we reframed that to allow herself some breathing room. In the open space, an opportunity appeared to be given larger responsibility along with greater exposure within her company. Succeeding at the new task would be a huge boost and resume-building highlight which would poise her for a promotion or better opportunity elsewhere.
Let’s call what happened to Maureen the result of ‘focused in-action’. She wasn’t giving up but she was allowing a break to see what might emerge. In this case, an opportunity came up but you might find inspiration for a different strategy, the idea to call on someone else you may need to talk to or you may find a slight course correction.
The next time you want to quit, take a break instead. Allow some focused in-action and pick up within two to three weeks. If you go longer, it will become unfocused in-action and you could derail. If nothing emerges in your break, you may need to go back to drawing board. It’s OK.
Quit? Never. You may have to go a different way but keep your eye on the ultimate prize—-a satisfying line of work. It just may look different than you thought.
Let us know how we can help.
Question: I have the right job in terms of my role and the skills I’m using. I just want to do it for a different organization. It’s been eight years and I feel like I’ve out-stayed where I am. I’m chomping at the bit to get out but still have one foot in the world of “This works for me” and the other in “I’ve got to get out of here”. I think underneath my own ambivalence is fear. I’ve been working hard to make a change but I have no results. When I get close to taking bigger steps, I get scared. And I know the fear is an old one from long ago that’s not even relevant anymore; it doesn’t match my current reality.
You know yourself well and it’s true that fear often disguises as ambivalence. In Now What? we talk about old motivations that you might be using to stay safe and it sounds like what you’re describing. The good news is that you get to choose a new motivation that works for you now. Ask yourself: Who am I waiting for permission from?
To keep moving yourself forward, you’ll need support. You need people to cheer you on as you take risks and move in the new direction. Don’t be afraid to lean on them or to ask for help. Remember, too, that even if you step out and conclude that “maybe this isn’t for me,” you will still have answered it for yourself.
Today’s post includes perspective from people of various ages and backgrounds, as they reflect on their career transitions. Despite some sacrifices and unknowns, most say they will not regret trying something new. Imagine yourself at some point in the future, having taken a chance with a new direction. What is it that you can picture yourself attempting that would cause you to say: No matter how it turns out, I’m glad I gave it a try.
For at least two years, I have been seeing a pattern in career transition clients that has confirmed a theory that I have relied on for a long time. It seemed that every time a client was really at a standstill in the progress of their career or even their job search, the key to reclaiming momentum and positive results was to pick up a piece of their past passions and add it to the current mix. Reinventing by including a forgotten piece of a person, seemed to unlock the doors to luck and results.
Recently, I could even add myself to the list of anecdotal evidence.
This year started with a slow drag. A long time employee had to leave suddenly and one of my children had to spend time in the hospital (all is fine). It was not the momentum I had anticipated. Once I finally surrendered to the inevitable pace, I had some time to think and I recognized that I wanted to have a lot more fun with my work. A series of ah-ha’s finally coalesced to one big volcanic flash of understanding. I needed to bring a huge piece of my past that had been put aside happily for seventeen years into the present.
You see, at the top of the year I had also treated myself to performing in my first musical in almost twenty years. It was more fun than should have been legal, and although I never consciously thought I missed performing because speaking fills that need for me, I realized I had left way too much of that part of me behind.
The ah-ha then was that I needed to include this in my plans moving forward. I did that by creating three new keynote speeches that included theatre within them instead of my normal, expert-based talks which always included humor but I did not ‘act’ in them. Within days, I wrote a blog post based on one of them. In less than 24 hours, I was asked to speak the following week on the topic and two more bookings of the other new keynotes followed. In a month’s time, two former speaking clients came to me to book me for events, one of them choosing one of these new topics. The speed and momentum at which this all occurred was monumental.
The doors flying open and the ‘yes’s’ that have ensued are too numerous to list here, but suffice it to say, it has been a welcome infusion of energy, satisfaction and money. Certainly, I also interpret it as a sign to keep moving forward with this new direction.
This is what I know to be true for many of our Now What? clients. Reinvention today is not about pulling a new idea of the sky, but rather, about folding a forgotten piece into a new form that matches who you are today. You must identify what that is and engage it now. Let us know if we can help.