One of the biggest challenges for anyone looking to change change careers is making the change. It's easy to rewrite a resume and go to networking events. It's much harder to put yourself on the line and face failure. One of my favorite thinkers is Seth Godin, who loves it when people "deliver." For someone trying to change careers, delivering begins when you go on the first interview. Delivering is also when you start to describe yourself in your new role. Change might be the most difficult thing we do as humans, but it is also the power that lets us grow and develop. Failure is part of the process, so is frustration. However, speaking for myself and the millions of other who have found happiness by changing career, every moment of sorrow will be repaid by years of satisfaction. Get out there. Find what will make you happy
Persistence is a big part of success. Whether you're looking for a new job or trying to change careers, it's easy to find negative advice. The Internet is filled with experts who can give countless (bad) reasons why you will fail. However, if you're doing the right thing and you believe in yourself, success is almost always possible (See The Dip by Seth Godin).
Thomas Jefferson captured this idea in these words: "When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."
Seth Godin offers an interesting perspective on failure – It’s all about your attitude. Some successful people feel that they are failures. They are never happy with their work even when it is good. Such thinking is a trap. People lost in feelings of failure keep looking for an ever elusive success.
Godin is not saying we should be happy with failure, but that we should know how to work through failures and deliver. His books The Dip and Poke the Box are necessary reads for anyone who’s caught up in the failure trap. Successful people fail before they find a way to succeed. Or, as Godin puts in The Dip, they know how to quit the right things. If you’re doing the right kind of work for the right reason, the feelings of failure will still come now and then. But they won’t be how you define yourself. Take joy in your work and your life.
I often direct readers to Seth Godin’s blog. Godin has that rare skill of capturing complex ideas in clear, concise language. Recently, he hit another home run. Rather than think of our careers as a single calling, we should talk about “caring.” Godin says we care about many things, and those forces should drive how we work. I agree. Moreover, caring lets us balance our work and our non-work lives. If a person’s work keeps her from other things she cares about, she probably should look for a new job. A good salary and the recognition from co-workers or clients are great things. But if that’s all someone has, life is, that person's life is – literally – all work and no play.
I love this quotation from Henry Ford: "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."
Great advice. As long as we're really focused on our goals, fear shouldn't be a problem. In fact, fear is the negative power that distracts us and keeps us from achieving our goals. Two of my favorite writers Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield have called this the "resistance" that keeps us from "delivering." I frequently tell clients who are wrapping themselves in paralyzing blankets of fear to do something very different: Practice talking about your strengths. What makes you good at what you do? How will you be an asset to an employer or company? If you can answer those questions, the obstacles and fears will be manageable.
I love Seth Godin’s blog. Seth writes about big issues, but he does so in simple clear language. In a post called Plenty More, he presents two options for early career professionals: work hard with a commitment to excellence or wait for success and do the least possible work. In Seth’s words, “The biggest cause of excellence is the story we tell ourselves about our work.” We become those stories.They also apply at all stages of our career, but are especially important for young people. Whenever we tell ourselves that we’ll do it later, that we’ll do it tomorrow, or that "I’m doing the best I can," we are writing the story of our own failure. Let’s change the script and find a way to make whatever we do better. Then we’ll tell stories about our work that will make us proud.
I recently spoke to a group of college students recently. I asked what their concerns were about find work. One said that some students had problems finding jobs in their major. For some, this might be a problem. For others, however, it can be a career advantage. Many of my most successful clients work in fields that have little to do with their major. For them, a change in career goals was not a limitation, but a type of freedom.
At least half of my clients who were trained as lawyers work in fields outside of the law. Some are managers or consultants. Others work in communications or media. Training in the law provides a wide range of skills that are applicable beyond the court room. In a similar sense, people who major in the humanities rarely work in their majors. Instead, they use broad skills in thinking and communication to adapt to all types of professional fields. They are often the people best fit to move across careers because they haven’t committed themselves to a field like accounting or engineering. That said, some of my clients who are accountants and engineers have made exciting career changes that have brought them new opportunities and increased income.
Don’t limit yourself. As Seth Godin says, “Draw your own map.” Too often a person who wants to make a change convinces herself that she can’t do it. At that point, one thing is certain – failure. Some people try to change careers and fail, but they have taken the first step and have a chance to try again. They have given themselves that freedom.
As Seth Godin says in his fine book The Dip, winners know when and what to quit. I met a client today who is taking some smart risks in managing his career and life. Fred (not his real name) left a job where he had worked for more than 10 years. His position was becoming impossible, and a new boss was promising to make it even worse. At the same time, Fred and his wife are selling their house as well his mother’s house. Fred and his wife, who is employed, have saved some money. So instead of staying at a bad job while looking for a new one and trying to fix up two houses, Fred decided to take one thing at a time. First, he quit his job. Next, he will prepare both homes for sale. Finally he will focus on his job search.
Not everyone has Fred’s resources or time, but his story has value for anyone who is trying to find a new job or change careers – It takes time and focus. I’ve seen many clients who put so much into the job they hate that they don’t have the energy or time to find a new one. In other cases, job seekers have responsibilities to their families that pull them away from looking for work. Fred’s story should be an example of how it is important to give yourself the time and energy to conduct a good job search. Even if you can’t quit the job you hate, or even if you have a serious family obligation, find a way to put the time in you need to find the new job. It’s not easy, but it’s better than staying in a job that is not helping you live better or be happy.
I often cite Seth Godin, who’s one of my favorite writers and thinkers. In his book, The Dip¸ Godin explores how winners know how to quit the things that hold them back from moving forward. The New Yorker has published a short essay by Adrian Cardenas, who last played in the Chicago Cubs organization. He played in 45 games for the Cubs in 2012. Cardenas is eloquent in explaining why he left the big leagues to focus on being a student.
I was especially impressed by his confession that money took away from the joy of the game. That’s a hard confession to make. Most of us would kill to make the minimum big league salary. Baseball as a business was not what Cardenas, a student at New York University, wanted. Leaving the sport is his first step to a new life. May he find happiness.
I’ve written in the past about Seth Godin’s great little book The Dip. Godin says that successful people quit the right things, and they know how to fight through the dips. A local business owner closed his store earlier this month. I saw him this morning and learned that he’s been a flight attendant for more than 20 years. He was operating the store as a second job and found that it was impossible to do both. His flight attendant job offers steady pay and benefits. While it was hard to close a business in which he had invested 3 years of sweat and dreams, he made a practical choice. He knew what to quit.
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