A friend of mine recently got the opportunity to apply for a full-time marketing job at a company she loves. She’s been doing marketing for years, and six months ago, this was exactly what she wanted.
In the intervening period, though, she’s taken another job, one that will lead a different direction. And she’s loving the new work. She’s excited by it. She’s challenged by it.
But when the old-desired opportunity showed up, literally at her desk, she got conflicted.
The shoulds come knocking
It’s easy to get caught up in what jobs we think we should apply for, what careers we should pursue.
Sometimes it’s about previous experience or prior desires, as it was for my friend. Sometimes it’s about prestige – about certain careers being “good” and others not. Sometimes it’s about our families of origin and the kinds of jobs or careers they pursued.
Unless you’re actively unemployed and need a job to pay the rent and buy the groceries (and that is very, very real), I’d recommend passing on the shoulds. Because the shoulds are a one-way ticket to stuck and stasis.
Stuck and stasis are not helpful
When the shoulds are involved, it’s easy to tell ourselves that it’s just “for now.” Just until we find something better.
Maybe that’s staying in your graduate program. Maybe that’s adjuncting. Maybe that’s teaching at an institution you don’t fit in a place you hate. Maybe that’s teaching high school when you really don’t like teenagers. Maybe that’s taking an office job that bores you silly at your mom’s organization to get your foot in the door.
But here’s what happens after that. We’re kind of comfortable. We’ve gotten a few more lines on the resume. The work isn’t painful, but it’s not challenging or interesting either, or the working environment takes a constant toll on us. Maybe we’re even getting paid a decent salary.
And so, when it’s time to actually go find that other job, the one we actually truly want, we hesitate.
Change is doable
The reason people get trapped is that they’re afraid. Changing jobs and careers takes a lot of work, and it’s hard to have confidence that you can do it successfully.
But the way to gain confidence – and thus keep yourself moving towards your actual goal – is to understand that changing jobs and careers is a process. It’s not exactly a linear process, but it’s a defined process none-the-less.
And the way to get comfortable with that particular type of change is to get familiar with and comfortable with the process. The situation will always be different. But the process, the process is always the same. (Says the girl who’s changed careers three times!)
That’s part of why I’m teaching this new Becoming Post-Academic class – because I want you to learn about the process enough to be comfortable, and so be comfortable going after what you really want.
If you’re interested, you can learn more by clicking here. But however you do it, give yourself the gift of learning about the process, so you can step into it with confidence, with grace, and with success.