At a young age, we are often asked by others, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” I know I’m asking my teens this question, and I continue to ask this when I coach adults. The irony is that if they asked me this question, I would not have 100% clarity. Twenty plus years post-university I’m still asking myself the question. Our careers are paths, which at times don’t seem clear. I would speculate that the majority of us didn’t have full path clarity leading us to a perfectly straight unobstructed path. We may be walking the path at night without a light; we may find the path blocked or ending. What we know with most certainty is that our career paths are ever-changing. In 2017, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported, “individuals born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held an average of 11.9 jobs from age 18 to age 50, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Nearly half of these jobs were held from ages 18 to 24.” (1) We do not know what will happen with the future generations, but we do know that Millennials are not foreign to a job change.
When it feels like the path is not leading us to a happy place, how do we reclaim our career? Just RAPPP!
- Reject regret. Forbes magazine author Kathy Camprino writes about the five regrets of mid-career hires. Number 2 on the regret list is regretting missing out on life. (2) Don’t do things that you aren’t willing to say later, “I would do it again.”
- Appreciate the first half of your journey. Just as you see in the old black and white movie. It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence, the angel, shows George that his life has touched so many others. A Harvard Business Review article states, “There’s a kind of counterweight … I think one strategy for evincing that, that you are pointing to, is to think about all the particular things you’ve done at work, the particular connections you’ve made, the people you know, the interactions you value, and to think about all of those details vanishing, replaced by something that in principle might be better, but it is completely unknown and to which you have no emotional connection.” (3) Those connections are the essential parts of our lives, and you would not want to give them up. (most of them at least)
- Passion reclamation. As odd as it sounds, you take time away to think about your true passion by reading a book, taking a survey, or getting a coach to help you think deeper about your real passion points.
- Plan creation. Write down your plan to create a career, including your passion and share it with your accountability partner. The plan should be built with simple steps that can show progress and allow for celebrations.
- Promote the plan. Be ready to use your past experiences to promote and sell you on this true passion to employers, investors, and supports. An example may look like re-writing your resume or CV to speak in the language of the target audience. For me, it meant writing my resume with past experiences that aligned with those used inside my current company. That allows those in the current company to relate to your experiences more easily.
If you have watched the TV show Songland, you know that a song doesn’t come together in an instant. It is normal for our careers to take more than an instant to come together also. When you find yourself following an unhappy career path, just RAPPP!
Consider these thoughts when in mid-career Ground Hog Day. If you are inclined, please send your experiences and ideas. An interactive audience enables learning for us all.