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You Gotta Jump

All I can say to this bit of inspiration from Steve Harvey is…damn right.

Jumping off the cliff – even knowing you have a parachute – is scary as hell.

And I’ll be absolutely candid. I’m still falling, tugging at the ripcord. I’ve been torn up and beaten up on my way down. I’ve experienced things that, at the time, made me wish I never jumped at all. But I’m glad I did. I’m glad I took the risk of jumping into the unknown. I’m glad I tried different careers and moved to different places with no idea what was on the other side. I have scars and I appreciate every single one of them. Each one is a reminder that I am alive, I am whole, I am worthy, I am enough.

And here’s the kicker…I do have faith that my parachute is opening. And yours will too, if you choose to jump.

However, as Mr. Steve says, if you never jump your parachute will never open and you will never soar.

So tell your fear – no matter what shape it takes – to go to hell because you gotta jump.

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Don’t Jump Ship Too Quickly

Admit it. There are days when you come home from the job and toy with the idea of ditching it to move on to something better. But is ditching your job the best answer? It all depends on your circumstances.

CNN published a (somewhat surprisingly) insightful article called Look on the bright side of a bad job. Based on this title, I didn’t have high expectations. I rather expected the writer to admonish his readers to just “buck up” and find their shiny, happy selves. Instead, there are some pretty good ideas in the article…in particular the last one under their category of Wisdom.

If you’re unhappy, examine why. Do you dislike the people you work with or is it the actual work? Are you in a dead-end position? Think back to your interview and see if you missed any warning signs that this job might not be the one for you. Use your experience to avoid falling into the same predicament in your next job. If the situation didn’t turn sour until after you’d been with the company for a while, you know to stay attuned to shifts in attitudes and practices…Making the best out of a bad job situation doesn’t mean being complacent. A positive outlook shouldn’t replace your plans to move on (emphasis mine).

This is brilliant advice. I know from personal experience that when the shitstorm at work starts to get wild, there’s a strong impulse to jump ship. Yes, there are times when it’s necessary to move on (say, when our health is at stake or the situation has become toxic), but it’s not always the best plan for our working future. Most times, these bad jobs are chock full of learning that we need to absorb in order to make better future decisions that will help us find work that has meaning and purpose. Or else, we risk falling into the same situation again and again (think Bill Murray’s plight in Groundhog Day).

If you’re in a spot where you’re edging toward the end of the plank and thinking about leaping for another ship, take some time to answer the questions posed above. Take full advantage of the wisdom and experience that this experience is offering you.

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Starting A New Career Story

Someone very close and dear to me is experiencing a challenge that’s rather painful and isn’t unique to just her career. She has approached a crisis moment in her professional path where she no longer wants to continue practicing what she has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in. Some folks may find this a liberating feeling. However, she’s not just feeling scared, she’s also experiencing feelings of guilt, confusion, and disappointment. In essence, she’s saying goodbye to ten plus years of studying, training, and working. But her truth is that she no longer has the passion for that career and now feels a calling to explore new professional territory. Maybe this sounds familiar to you. If so, maybe you’ve also struggled with these feelings:

A feeling that your degree(s) are worthless now.
Let’s turn this around and focus less on what’s written on the diploma and what the diploma represents. The learning undoubtedly changed you in both significant and subtle ways. Take me for example…I studied history as an undergrad and though I don’t practice it as a professional it still has had a dramatic impact on how I approach life. I think about problems differently, taking a more holistic viewpoint in order to see all of the interconnections and possibilities. Take some time to reflect on how you’ve changed because of your past experience. Then celebrate how it’s made you the unique person that you are.

A feeling that you’ve wasted (or are throwing away) a part of your life.
Again, let’s turn this around. Consider the full experience of this chapter in your life: the people met, friendships made, knowledge gained, and so on. We can get hung up on the very old-school notion of a linear career path which not only limits our career choices, but limits who we are. Think of life and career as an anthology. The stories contained in an anthology have a loose theme, but can be different in their plot. At this stage of your life, you’re just adding the next story.

A feeling that you’re disappointing people or not meeting their expectations.
This may be true. But you have to ask yourself…are you living for yourself or someone else? Are you living to your own unique purpose or someone else’s idea of what that purpose is? I know these are not easy questions to answer. However, something else to reflect on is whether this feeling is based on your own assumption that you’re disappointing others, or in fact, based on reality. Have you taken the courageous act of talking to these important people in your life – parents, partner, friends – about your decision? Many times, we project a feeling of disappointment onto other people when its being felt from within.

A feeling that no one will understand your decision.
This is another often imagined feeling that springs from a fear of being rejected. We think that if the important people in our life are disappointed in us, they’ll shun us or not love us. That’s a fear that’s hard to shake. Yet again, we have to ask ourselves if that’s an assumption we’re projecting out onto others or whether it’s based on reality. More often than not, the people that love us will support us – even if they don’t immediately understand why we’re choosing to go in a different professional direction.

An overwhelming feeling of anxiety about what’s next.
Some of you may have at least some idea of where you want to go next. Some of you may have no clue where to go…you just know you don’t want to go back to where you were. Either way, you likely know more than you think about the next story in your career. You just need some help.

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