As I write this, it is the midst of the Thanksgiving holiday. During one of the many gatherings I was fortunate enough to be invited to, I had the chance to talk with a fellow who said he wanted to change careers, for both personal and financial reasons.
His exact words:
“I regret not going into the field that I got my degree in. I made a choice right out of college to join the family business, and eventually I can run it, BUT I would be so much further ahead if I had taken one of the positions I interviewed on just as I was about to graduate.”
My response was: “So, what’s stopping you?” (Hint: Open ended questions help conversations go better, so you can gather more information.)
He came back with: “Because I’m 32, and I got my degree so long ago…even though I loved my field of study, and it’s a growing field now, I’ve decided that waiting for my turn to run the family business was the best course… it might be down the road, but in the meantime, I am drowning financially.”
Any attempt I made at encouraging him or giving pointers on how to move forward was met with further justification for why he wouldn’t move forward with his dream.
The last thing I said to him was this: “You made your choice to sit and wait…that’s on you…you won’t move forward, and that’s on you as well…I deal with folks every day, who are in worse positions than you, and they want to have better lives too…but they’ll WIN because they’ll actually put the work in to change their situations…everyone has to make new and different decisions every day.”
Notice I said he WOULDN’T move forward, and not COULDN’T move forward.
Here is why I am sharing this conversation: As people, we often trap ourselves based on the decisions we make about ourselves and our situations, and we further cement our positions by repeatedly telling ourselves that we have NO OTHER CHOICE.
What about you? Have you made decisions about yourself that limit you? Do you not put forth 100% effort because you think you are too old, or have the wrong degree, or have been out of work? Did you bet the farm on a business venture that went belly up and now feel worthless? If so, welcome to humanity.
Everyone makes choices…if they work, we’re a genius…if not, we’re failures. That’s how we’re conditioned to think.
Yes I know that things happen that you can’t plan for…some things happen that we didn’t ask for, but I am here to say that no matter where you are standing right now, you have options. There is always something you can do, you just have to make the choices and move forward.
Sometimes there are no “best” options…sometimes we have to settle for the “least painful” of the ones before us…but the key is, you just can’t sit still. I will say this until I am blue in the face (or keyboard), self pity and passivity are mental cancers and must be avoided at all costs.
A sad fact of human nature is that we often take the decisions we make about ourselves, and then turn them into badges of honor, no matter what they cost us… We often mask our fear of what might happen if we try, by loudly proclaiming ( for example) “I can’t take this job, I refuse to let my kids be in daycare,” while not being able to afford to live decently being a single, stay at home parent. Remarkably, I had that conversation recently with someone as well.
What I have written here may only apply to a few of you…maybe a lot of you, I don’t know… but I hear it often enough in my day to day that I wanted to address it. If you feel that you “can’t” do something, carefully examine your motives for thinking that, and be honest… are you hiding from the unknown? or avoiding the hard work of job search? or covering the fact that your people skills aren’t good enough to help get you where you want? Or do you feel your ego might take a hit if you approach someone for help?
There is no shame in uncovering negative thinking in yourself… the only shame is not doing anything to solve the problem, once you understand it.
Take the initiative…make different decisions about how you feel about things…get help…learn to network and then commit to it… embrace change, and keep driving forward until you meet your goal… if you aren’t willing to do these things, don’t wear out other people by complaining how bad your life is and what you don’t have. Self induced negativity is the number one killer of job searches and personal fulfillment.
Until next time, this is Coach Tom telling you to stay strong and don’t quit.
Thomas Patrick Chuna is a certified Five O’Clock Club job search coach. The Five O’Clock Club is a nationally recognized outplacement firm with a proven job search methodology that helps job seekers get better jobs faster.
Tom is also an experienced independent recruiter specializing in molecular oncology research scientists & MD’s.
Learn more: http://www.fiveoclockclub.com http://www.patrick-international.net