It’s FRI-YAY! I hope you have a kick-ass day and make the most of it.
I was at an awesome Women in Sports event last weekend and one of the panelist, a producer for ESPN, reminded the group that our career path is not “climbing a ladder” it’s more like “climbing a juggle gym.” We all know the professional climb is far from linear. I myself have tried to map out the play-by-play and kept everything in neat, sequential boxes that I can check off as I move forward. Ha! WRONG. It doesn’t work like that…at least not in most instances.
Our life and careers will take us on a wild ride that rarely puts us in the exact place at the exact time that we expected. Life is unpredictable and we shouldn’t get stuck on this preconceived notion of a one track advancement or linear growth in our careers – a valuable lesson I have learned myself. Say ‘yes’ often and be open to the people and opportunities that come your way. You never know where they may lead you! And sometimes that could mean staying right where you are and moving around within that organization.
My own journey has been one of these juggle gym experiences – I pursued a graduate degree that only made me realize what I didn’t want to be doing. Oops. Rather than pigeon holing myself into a career I didn’t truly enjoy, I have been navigating my way back into college athletics administration and it has been a far from traditional path. You may go from A to D back to B and then end up at S. Who knows! A minor detour could lead you to major opportunities. The most important thing is that you are happy and experiencing growth, value and fulfillment along each step of the journey.
Fear about doubt can cause us to second guess ourselves when there is an opportunity that comes our way – especially when that opportunity does not follow the “typical” career path for your given profession. How do we know whats the right move and when to say yes? It can be challenging to make these decisions and take that leap of faith – here are three questions I’ve asked myself when considering whether to go career “off-roading” and pursue a new or different opportunity.
- Does this job/position bring NEW challenges and opportunities that excite me? Does thinking about the job and all that it will entail get your blood pumping and your heart racing? It is something that will truly help you grow – through new challenges/assignments, new people and/or a new place? Our gut reaction says a lot about whether something is right or wrong for us. Sit with your thoughts and really explore your reaction to the opportunity and listen to the things that come across your mind. Do this before asking other people for their advice!
- Will this work be meaningful for me? It’s a pretty simple question so many of us neglect to ask ourselves. With all the time and energy you put into your job, you should feel good about it. Will this new organization/position align with your values and passions?
- Am I going toward something great or running away from something I hate? An important question to ask yourself and explore -as to why you are considering this position and leaving your current organization. You want to make sure your leaving for the right reasons, and what I mean by that is you are going towards a great opportunity that will truly lead to growth and development rather than running away from something you don’t like. Are you taking the first opportunity that comes your way to get out of your current position? Even when times are tough, patience can pay off. Make sure you are leaving for the best opportunity not the most convenient one.
Check out the two articles below for more tips on managing your career path.
- You Don’t Need to Follow a Clear Career Path to Get Ahead
- 5 Ways to Stop Second-Guessing Your Choices (and Driving Yourself Crazy in the Process)
Ultimately, there is no “wrong choice” or “bad career move” – every decision we make and every experience we have contributes to our career and growth. We may have great experiences, and we may have shitty ones, but all of them contribute to who we are personally and professionally. Don’t over analyze and get caught up in titles and career ladders – pursue the work and positions that will be most meaningful to you and enjoy the journey.
“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” – Oprah