Through the years I’ve received countless emails and calls asking for advice and perspective about the what, where, and how of direction setting when it comes to getting, holding onto, and changing jobs.
The most challenging are those that, like the following, describe a state of being that encompasses much more than the specifics of a job search. Read on… you’ll see what I mean:
I’m fifty and have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. No clue. I’m just doing what I’ve always done. One foot in front of the other. I don’t look to the future and I don’t regret the past. I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I’m just living right here, right now, in a state of gray.
If I had wanted more in my professional life and in my personal life, I’d have gone for it. It must say more about me than I’d like to admit that I didn’t try. Do I lack courage? I’d say so. Am I afraid to take chances? Absolutely. Am I content with having done so little with my life? Not really, but I don’t like to think about that too long or that gray will get grayer. There’s no point spending time on regret. Regret keeps you stuck.
I’m not really stuck. I have a job that pays a decent wage. It might not afford me a new car, cool vacation or a growing family, but I can pay my bills and set a little aside for when I can’t work any longer. So you see, I am not stuck. But I’m not a success story, am I? And tell you the deep down truth, I’d like to be.
This is the story of many who share a life half lived. Theirs is not one of good or bad judgment, overreached or missed opportunity. It’s a story with a wish barely whispered, that asks for more and doesn’t know how to get it.
So money and prestige aside, do you want more than you currently have? If so, what specifically do you want? That’s the starting place. The specificity. The naming and defining of what your want is. As you answer, listen closely. You might hear words that sound as though you are more a victim of your circumstances than a participant in them.
My intention is not to be dismissive of a life filled with hardship. Many of you may have grown up with and alongside difficult, challenging, heart wrenching times; times that may well continue today. What I’m asking is that you consider the role you play, and what other roles you might play, were you to choose to think and behave differently.
If you are clear about your want, committed to achieving it, and ready to do what it takes to get there, you can attain success on your terms. What counts in this life is making a difference: having the clarity and knowledge that your time was not wasted; that you worked toward ends that benefitted more than you alone. Wishing won’t do it. Working at it, will.