Recently, I talked with a client who was paralyzed at the thought of making another “mistake” in her career choices.
She was stuck.
Overwhelmed with fear.
Afraid of appearing stupid and making a career choice she wouldn’t like. Her negative thoughts held her captive and unable to make a decision.
Does this sound familiar?
Have you pursued a career, only to find it’s not for you?
Do you then find yourself doing nothing?
If this rings a bell, then I’ve got some comforting thoughts for you.
It’s by your mistakes that you learn and grow.
The more career choices you make, the more risks you take, the more “mistakes” you will make. That goes with the territory.
It’s giving up and deciding to do nothing afterwards that is the “mistake.”
When I was starting out in my career, I tried nursing school and dropped out after 6 weeks. I tried to make a living as a commercial artist and found I couldn’t compete with other talented designers. After I got a teaching degree, I discovered that the city was laying off teachers. The list of professions I tried goes on and on.
When all this was happening I was very unhappy. I kept thinking, when am I going to find ‘the’ career that’s right for me? And it didn’t help that I had relatives who reminded me of the smooth career trajectory of my “smart” cousin who became an attorney.
As it turned out, I found several careers that fit for a while. I worked in a corporation for 12 years, was promoted 5 times and finally knew I didn’t want corporate life anymore.
I moved on to the next ‘right’ position. I never felt married to any profession. The lesson, that I would remain in a career only for as long as it brought me satisfaction and renewal, taught me well.
I had careers and jobs that suited me at particular times in my life. When I was in my 30’s and 40’s, making my mark, earning a big salary, having a 4-window office with a view and a title were important. Now, I could care less about those things.
Job satisfaction, making my own schedule, doing work that I love — those are the factors that drive me now.
Which brings me to a critical point: If I hadn’t made those career “mistakes,” I would still be wondering, “you know, maybe I could have been a (fill in the blank).
I have no regrets that I tried things that I didn’t end up staying with long-term. In fact, my past “mistakes” enable me to use my experiences to guide clients in my current role as an executive coach in New York.
So what can you learn from my story?
Wisdom and self-knowledge come with making career choices; experiencing the possibilities that are presented to you each day.
Focus on what you can learn about yourself, not on the fear of making a mistake.
In the end, they won’t be mistakes.
They will add to the reservoir of life skills that you can use at a future point in your career.
Share your comments, questions and experiences below.