Do you have career regrets?
If you are like me, you harbor a few regrets over some career decisions made in the past. Regrets aren’t altogether bad. When I focus on my regrets, it’s not to berate myself. Instead it’s a lesson in how I react in certain situations and a chance to examine why. The goal is to avoid regrettable decisions in the future.
In the beginning, you hurry to identify what kind of job you want… where you want to live…what company you want to work for…what Industry that company will be in. If you haven’t done enough to be clear as to your goals, you’ll fall into a vicious cycle of bouncing from one unsatisfying job to another. Note that I use the word "job," rather than career because so often they don’t lead to anything.
No one likes looking for a "job". Creating resumes, painstakingly filling out duplicate information from your resume into the various ATS systems, and everything else in the world of the digital job market is a chore. If you’re lucky, and there is a certain amount of luck involved, you’ll ultimately hired. Do you feel exuberant? If so, consider yourself lucky. By the time they land a position, most job applicants forgotten why they chose the position, the company, or the industry. Rather than elated, they are more likely to feel exhausted by the process and just happy to be able to take themselves off the market.
Honeymooning on the Job
Let’s say you are one of the lucky ones. You’re happy to be working and happy with your position and your company. How does this manifest in your life? Some people buy the car they always wanted, or marry the person they love, or move into their first apartment, or buy a house. It feels good. Things are going well. You career is on the superhighway traveling 80mph. You’re all smiles, positive about the decisions you’ve made in your career and excited about where you’re headed.
Call this the "honeymoon stage." It can last a while. Then, one day, you notice that there is a nasty pit developing in your stomach. Your first thought to blame the dinner burrito you wolfed down the previous evening while staying late to meet a report deadline. You don’t think about the stress you’re under. You can’t afford to let yourself feel overwhelmed. Instead, you tell yourself, "Hey, I can’t eat that blasted greasy stuff so late anymore. I’m getting to old for this." You’re not getting old, but the pattern is.
You make peace with your upset stomach, painful headaches, and other physical warning signs, and simply forge ahead putting one foot in front of the other. Time passes and before long you feel you’ve made it. You’re an integral part of the company. A couple of years zoom by and you land that big promotion. You are happy and ready to tackle the challenges coming your way. In many ways, life seems to just happen. You often feel like you’re on automatic pilot…You wake up automatically, rise and shine automatically, and go to work automatically. You travel spend some time with your family. You may even have some time left to be a weekend warrior… if you have enough energy left, that is.
Let Your Regrets Flag Fly
Then one day as you are looking out of your office window, you just say to yourself, "I hate my job." You are staring at your own reflection thinking: How did you get to this point?" You stopped smiling, and came face to face with the facts that you are stressed all the time and popping Zyrtec, Pepto Bismol or whatever you can find in the drug store to ease you stomach issues. I’m sorry, but that’s not where you’ll find relief.
Welcome to your career and life.
So, what happened along the way? How did you drift so far afield of your goals? Can you correct course? Yes. However, you may need to re-discover your purpose. Discovering your sense of purpose is crucial to making a difference in work and in our personal lives.
Your view of satisfaction and success is determined by your own values and needs. Your perspective on your career is the sum total of your experience, education and expectations.
Self-discovery is our ability to motivate ourselves, to reawaken our purpose in the face of change or transition. In this workbook, explore your own values, beliefs, skills and purpose. Discovering our purpose is perhaps, the ultimate risk we must take.
Stay tune for Part II of Career Regrets.