Saturday, January 2, 2016

How To Build A Bridge To Your New Career

I'm sure we've all had days when quitting big seemed like a good idea. It's those moments when you are going in circles with no end in sight that can cause you to make decisions in a fog. While you can be tempted to walk in one day and give your unsuspecting boss your resignation letter, you know you can't for two major reasons: 1) You are not prepared, and 2) You are scared to make the leap to the career you really want.

Moving on to the job of your dreams can feel like justification for the countless tasks and assignments that always left you wondering "Where is my life going?". Most people can never answer "why" for their existence in a job they find themselves in five years later that they said would only be for a year. Even if they have an answer, is it an answer or an excuse for not making the transition? If you are not careful, a year can turn into "years" very quickly. While you may tolerate the job, the familiar and menacing question, "Why am I still here?" never leaves.

The start of a new year can signal that now is the time to reflect on what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. If you have been pondering making a leap to the job you want, what is stopping you? What's the consequence for not doing it? We all want to be fully engaged and fulfilled in our work, but what if taking a leap of faith is not the best way to make progress towards your goal?

Career Breakthrough is my new series where I ask those who are doing what they love, to share their formula for success. These answers may not be new or different, just simply a perspective to consider. Read the candid responses and ponder how to set in motion the breakthrough you have been waiting for. 

Jeff Goins is a writer and authored the best-selling book, "The Art of Work". I found Jeff when I read an article he published on Medium called "How to Know You're Headed in the Right Direction". Jeff's simple but impactful insights poignantly communicate what we all think about as we look for answers that will (hopefully) mitigate the risks for our life decisions.

I had the opportunity to see Jeff up close and personal on Periscope one night as he grilled ribs. He invited his followers to ask him anything, and anything they did ask. Naturally there were questions that made it apparent some didn't see the value in this opportunity to talk with an accomplished writer like Jeff. For those of us who did, we asked very pointed questions and Jeff did not disappoint with the nuggets of wisdom he shared. My question was simple on the surface, but not so simple when you start to peel back the layers of what it means to make the leap to your dream job. I wanted to know what the catalyst was that made him leap to writing full-time. Jeff said the obvious, but with a practical wisdom that encourages you to move forward despite the risks you know are holding you captive.

Jeff Goins

Jeff responded with, "Great question, Stacey. I didn’t make the leap, though. I built a bridge. I slowly worked on something on the side until it created enough momentum that the next logical step was to transition into writing full-time. Don’t believe the myth of the 'leap'. Work on your dream now. For me, the contingency plan was to just go back to my job. But if you do the work, and do it slowly but intentionally, you’ll see the results".

We all want to make a living at what we love, but before we can take action on something we think will be fulfilling (and the answer to our prayers), we have to mentally be in a place where this can freely take place. I had this thought in mind when I asked Jeff what the mental shift felt like that compelled him to make the leap to writing. In one response, Jeff made it clear to me what we all should be doing while we "wait" for our dream job. I contemplated his response and settled on the fact that "waiting" is not a passive activity, but rather the preparation needed to set yourself up for success.  Not "leaping", but "building" is the key to creating the career you want.  

Jeff's simple response resonated with me that a "career breakthrough" is really a bridge to your next job or career that happens over time. It may appear as a "breakthrough" to others because they didn't witness the time and effort you've invested to achieve your heart's desire. While Jeff's career advice is straight-forward, the complexity appears in the mental roller coaster you ride daily, balancing being in a role you can't wait to shed while taking small steps towards the one you want. 

Building a bridge to your dream career takes time and patience, but most of all action. Here are some tips to get moving in the right direction:
  • Start small
  • Make it a priority to do something toward your goal everyday
  • Don't be easily discouraged but find a group of supporters to help you navigate through challenges
  • Create a side hustle or project to build your resume
  • Continue to perform well in the job that pays you
  • Don't burn bridges, but build them (hence "quitting big" is definitely not the answer)

Stacey Rivers is an author, mom, wife and IT Talent Professional. Find her current book "50 Essential Tips To Getting & Keeping The Right Job" on Amazon. For a look at her upcoming book "What Your Interviewer Won't Tell You", check out a preview here.