Career Not Going Your Way? Try Relaxing Your Grip. | Words from the Wise

Feeling stuck? Frustrated? Just plain mad?relax grip 3325065380_252a4c50de_m

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

The 12 Ways of… Business Fitness! Checkin’ Your List?


The things we want always come with a price, but not everything delivers results worth the cost. Accumulating stuff is easy. Creating the life we want isn’t. 

What’s on your list? 

It’s time to ask yourself if you’re where you want to be in your career.

Are you: 

  • Unemployed and looking for the right spot
  • Working at a job you hate
  • Yearning to be your own boss
  • Frustrated by slow growth in your business
  • Uncertain about your career options after school

When our work life doesn’t fit us, the rest of our life can pay a serious price. 

Checkin’ your list! 

It’s time to become your own personal “business fitness” trainer and/or find a career coach to help you. Then start building the career you’ve always wanted. 

Begin by taking an inventory of where you are right now in your quest for control over your career and your future. 

For each of the 12 items below, rate yourself using this scale: E—excellent (got it nailed), G—good (the pieces are in place), F—fair (just starting on this), O—oops (never thought of it). 

  1. I’m knowin’ where I’m goin’—I know exactly what career success I’m after, where to find it, and how to get it. (E-G-F-O) 
  2. It’s game time—I have the skills, knowledge, and experience I need to handle the challenges that my next move will put in my lap. (E-G-F-O) 
  3. I’m ready to rumble—I have the courage, commitment, and energy to face the unknowns that go with new territory, including the potentially difficult people. (E-G-F-O) 
  4. I’m strong—My physical health, self-confidence, and stress tolerance are solid; I can count on them going forward. (E-G-F-O) 
  5. I’m resilient—When I hit a wall or get discouraged, I don’t stop or slow my efforts because I know success will come if I press on. (E-G-F-O) 
  6. My course is set—I’ve got a written game plan for the next couple years, including SMART goals that I hold myself accountable to each month. (E-G-F-O) 
  7. I’m on top of things—I keep up with information on the marketplace, my company and others, industry trends, and opportunities. (E-G-F-O) 
  8. I expand my network—I stay in contact with business friends and allies, adding connections routinely, always ready to lend support.  (E-G-F-O) 
  9. I share my talents—I let colleagues know that I’m willing to help them, sharing my capabilities and engaging followers. (E-G-F-O) 
  10. I’m your wo/man, Coach!—You take the lead on assignments that position you for the kind of career growth you desire, even asking for the opportunity to be the designated leader. (E-G-F-O) 
  11. I reveal my ideas—You step forward with solutions to problems, in whole or in part, even when you may not be the person expected to know, always showcasing your value. (E-G-F-O) 
  12. I own my career—I make choices about opportunities I will or will not pursue based on what’s right for me, not because it’s what the company or outside influences want me to do. (E-G-F-O) 

Business fitness is your gift to yourself. 

The E’s and G’s you’ve given yourself are your launching pad. They are the platform you will build on. Your next steps are to: 

  • Keep expanding the breadth and depth of your E and G ratings
  • Take one step each day to move your F and O ratings up a notch (Bam!) 

The most important step you take is committing to the kind of success YOU want, accepting that you deserve it. 

This checklist is a jump start. My book, Business Fitness: The Power to Succeed—Your Way, gives you more of the how to’s. Each step you take will  increase your momentum until you feel like you’re flying! Please keep a parachute handy! 

What do you want most from your career? What’s been in your way? I’d love to hear from you.