To Be, Or Not To Be?

JoanHeadIf our future amounts to a sum of choices, then why is it that very few people take the personal accountability required to create the future of their dreams?

After all, it’s a lot easier to place blame on your ungrateful boss or your less-than-perfect family situation than it is to look at the person staring back at you in the mirror as the reason for your professional unhappiness. I’m always amazed by how many people I come across each day with great credentials who love the work they do have no idea how to utilize their background wisely and take their career to the next level.

The average middle-class American has been so conditioned to “stay put” that they rarely take proactive measures to change their destiny, instead waiting on “the man” to decide their fate. Yet, the wealthiest Americans recognize that it’s up to them to design their future, which is why they take advantage of every opportunity to grow their experience. They don’t wait for handouts – they know exactly what they want and make every effort to seize it.

How do they do that? They understand their buyer (employers in their line of work), and they listen to their unique hiring needs. In most cases, the employer is a small business looking to grow their organization with candidates who approach their future strategically and head-on – someone with a history that demonstrates a purposeful building of his or her skills and experience.

So let’s take practical tips from the master at career enhancement:

1. Get out of fear mode. I know that rational brain of yours is conditioned to believe that in this economy, you’re better off staying in the comfort zone rather than reaching for the end zone. Instead, adopt a growth mindset, and try weighing your options. If you chose a growing specialty, I promise there is more than one opportunity available for you. Do the research to get a baseline of market conditions and understand how your background fits into today’s new normal economy.

2. Remove the blindfold. Researching will allow you to see how many options are out there and the numerous directions you can take your career. New realizations lead to new hope, which will remove that blindfold of negative energy and allow you to view the employment world in a whole new light. Don’t let employment rumors dictate how you run your future. With so many paths to consider, you will be more honest and objective with yourself by simply taking ownership of your career.

3. When considering a new job, look inward. Ask yourself, “Will this new position allow my to add new skills to my toolbox? Does this position enhance my background in such away that shows off my transferable skills and my ability to adapt to change?” Take a job at a new company or a promotion within your current organization that adds to your toolbox in a measurable way and paints your background as a series of tactical moves that ultimately work towards that end goal. Employers aren’t looking for candidates who maintain the status quo. In fact, they want performers who are just the opposite – risk-takers, problem solvers and innovators.

4. Don’t seek out too much career guidance. Information overload can result in career stasis since making any decision becomes immediately overwhelming. Instead, pick a few advisors with various backgrounds and experience levels, and pitch your strategy to them.

5. Look at your next career move from all vantage points. Don’t take a new position without considering all the possibilities. Choose carefully and remember, a good defense always makes a strong offense.

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