Most of us dread starting over. It means more cursed change.
Some profess to love change, believing it’s about new beginnings. Those wary of change understand it’s about ends.
Nothing changes unless something stops. Whether we’re optimistic about the change or not, we’re still left with the impacts of “end-ness:”
- Familiar routines become undone
- Our role is defined differently
- Relationship dynamics are affected
- Adapting to new processes and tools is required
- Performance expectations shift
- Opportunities for advancement blur
You’re hard pressed to develop a rich career without embracing change, even as it turns your world upside down.
A career of many colors
The days of cradle-to-grave careers (and even professions) are over, cry as some might. Ours is a business world of movement, innovation, mergers, technological advancement, and speed.
As business changes, the outlines of our careers change with it. We need to see ourselves in the business of building a career path that has sustainability and heft.
You may have a degree in education, computer science, marketing, finance, or business administration. Today that just means you’ve demonstrated the ability to learn, to perform proficiently against standards, and to conduct yourself appropriately in a learning environment.
How any of that a contributes to developing a career is about what you do next.
A hearty career is the amalgamation of many steps and decisions, assembled in linear progression or wildly divergent.
You take the success potential out of building a career when you’re afraid to start over…and over…and over.
Your career is a business trip–you get in gear, follow one route for a while, arrive at one destination, see the sights, discover a new path, change or shift gears, and set yourself in motion again.
Some people arrive at their first career destination and stay there. Very few find their dream jobs, at least right away. But you can tell those who have stopped dreaming or even looking. They complain about pretty much everything.
That’s generally what happens when you’re afraid to start over.
Big careers start small.
It’s the rare person who knows what they want to do with their life while a teenager. But that’s where career paths too often get started.
You see where you get your best grades, assume that’s where your talents are, and set your sights on schools that will credential you. Then you go into the job market, promote your abilities, and get your first real job.
That initial job is your first, small step on the road to a potentially big career ahead. Chances are, though, you’ll have to find the courage to choose from many forks in the road to get there.
Do you want to:
- Stay in sales or move into marketing?
- Continue as a company programmer or join an app development start up?
- Remain a classroom teacher or launch an on-line course design company?
- Commit to a family-owned business or work in a Fortune 100 company?
- Play forever as a country band singer/guitarist or go solo in Nashville?
Building a big career means making smart choices. It’s not about following your passion but rather about building a strong base of tested skills and experiences that are your marketable assets. (No one makes this case more strongly than Cal Newport in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You.)
Every career decision you make builds on the previous ones, both the good and the bad.
Careers are the ultimate platform for self-discovery, and if you’re lucky, some company is paying you while you figure out your best path.
Fight the fear.
Starting over is scarier than staying put. A lot of worry often comes with your choices.
But when there’s a great opportunity that’s right in front of you, that’s the moment when you must face your fear of change and go for it. So stir up your tolerance for starting over and satisfy your hunger for a fulfilling career.