A career is a journey that for many will last 30-40+ years. Like most journeys it is seldom boring, and even the best researched plans can take the traveler on a winding road of adventure, unforeseen hazards, and ultimate reward.
Back in 1990, Dr. Seuss wrote a book called, “Oh, the places you’ll go!” At first glance it looks like your typical children’s book. In typical Seuss style the book takes you on a sing-song tour meeting strange new creatures like Hakken-Kraks and Boom Bands. Interestingly the summary says: advice in rhyme for proceeding in life, weathering fear, loneliness and confusion; and being in charge of your actions. I think this is a pretty good description of your career and the journey we all take.
Some people set out meticulous plans. They know exactly what program and University they want to attend and what industry and company they want their first position to be with. These people are planning some of their first career goals. Similar to Seuss’s book, you set off on this adventure with plans and great expectations. You know what you want and you’re going to get it!
A plan is important. Essential in many cases, but how will you react when obstacles are put in your way?
Some journeys don’t have prescribed road maps. Roads are not always clearly marked and you have to make decisions based on the best information you have at that time. Do you go right or left? Do you wait, or take a chance on something different?
Whatever the direction, try and avoid Seuss’s ‘waiting place’. This journey will test and confuse us at times, and fear of the unknown can be an enormous hurdle.
But the waiting place is a sure way to stall your career. Confusion and fear can stop us dead in our tracks. We stop taking control of our own career and start relying on others and happen-chance to make a decision for us. For many the waiting place is safe and easy. Decisions are put on hold, and for a short time you live in limbo. There are so many other people there also waiting; it’s easy to see why you could get too comfortable or lost in this place.
Press your reset button and get back on track. We become more knowledgeable after a few bumps in the road. Obstacles can be seen as an opportunity if you look at it from the right angle. We can learn to predict future detours based on reading company and marketplace signs. We can’t always avoid them, but preparation can greatly improve our recovery rate, and get us out of the waiting place much faster the next time.
Every time you think you have hit a dead-end in your career, reflect on what you have learned. There will always be things you couldn’t foresee, or control, but what did you do right? What could you have done differently? What did you learn from this experience to help you the next time your career goals are thrown a curve ball?
So set your goals and make your plans.
“Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”
About the Author
Diane Cobbold is a Principal in Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge’s Career Solutions Practice. Diane has over 20 years of experience working with HR teams to develop career solutions that support departing and retained employees to realize their career goals through traditional programs and virtual resources.Follow on Twitter More Content by Diane Cobbold