Choosing a career and getting the chance to pursuit it doesn’t always happen the way we’d like.
Careers are unpredictable beasts. They come with promise but no guarantees. While they seem to be about us, they’re actually more about others giving us the opportunity to make their organizations successful.
We often start out believing our careers are within our control. Then reality sets in and we hear ourselves saying:
- “I’m knocking on every door and still don’t get even an interview. Why?”
- “I’ve been performing at a high level in this job for three years and still no promotion. Why?”
- “I never thought the work I do would frustrate me like this. What can I do?”
Too often, we can’t answer these questions. They’re too big, too encompassing, and too far beyond our understanding of the conditions that drive them.
So we keep pressing, driving ourselves forward, dragging our frustrations with us. Some just curl up in a ball and do nothing. Sadly, this doesn’t fix anything.
Words from the Wise
Struggles with career choices and direction have gone on for centuries. Human beings generally want to do work that will support them and bring some satisfaction.
Especially in modern times, the hardest part is figuring out what we like and want to do, given our skills. Once that’s somewhat figured out, we set out to find the right employment.
This figuring-out process requires introspection, which many fail to do. It also requires owning what you know about yourself and the career you want, so that you can set your direction with an uncluttered mind.
I’ve worked for many years with job and promotion seekers who have been battered by rejection when they’ve pursued job titles, salary levels, and big name companies rather than the work they enjoy. They’ve held on so tight to their preconceived career must-haves that they have tuned out other opportunities.
I use this quote from Robin Fisher Roffer’s book, Make a Name for Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success, to help clients (both men and women) get free of themselves:
The universe is waiting for you to say what you want…Everything that you are seeking is also seeking you.
Then I add these wise words from Henry David Thoreau in Walden:
Men (and women, right Thoreau?) are born to succeed, not to fail.
Just think about how complex it is to get all the parts aligned just right so that you and anyone else can intersect your objectives at the same time.
That means: The job you want has to present itself when your skills and experience are seen as the right fit for the company and when the political forces see you as having the right nature to meet expectations. Whew!
Your successful career starts with your willingness to “put out there” what you sincerely want and then to allow your conscious and subconscious thinking to work together to connect the dots. Your prospective or current employer is doing the same thing.
Relax your grip.
Lots of good things happen when you take that chokehold off your career pursuits and replace it with a realization that what you are seeking is also seeking you.
The benefits can be palpable:
- Less self-imposed pressure, negative self-talk, and energy-sapping stress
- A refreshed ability to see and hear snippets of ideas you might otherwise have missed
- An openness and excitement that blunts feelings of frustration and isolation
- A renewed belief that you will get there and commitment to the effort
- Recognition that your attitude and effort are what you control; success will follow
Your career path is a function of the work you’ve done to offer value to an employer and the initiatives you take to get hired/promoted. Your biggest challenge is to be authentic in the process and prepared to act effectively when opportunities present themselves. Taking your hand off the throttle can help you make a nice smooth turn.
Photo from ladybugrock via Flickr