So, I had a new friend reach out to me recently (we met online) and s/he and I were discussing career development. This is a person who has multiple degrees, has practiced those within those multiple professional areas, and now is questioning “what’s next?” It’s ALWAYS a great idea to pause, take a look around, and ask this tough question.
A LOT of my highly skilled, super-smart friends are in this situation right now. I call it the perception of being stuck in waiting room before group therapy in overachievers anonymous. I have a lot of really smart, uber talented friends who are in this waiting room, and have been there now for years. They feel stuck. And, even though the economy appears to be recovering a bit, it’s still not great (in my opinion).
If you suffer from this affliction, as so many do, I’ll share with you what I shared with her/him while hanging out in the waiting room. Ready?
1. Careers are gardens – not ladders. You already know how I feel about this. And it’s true. No one job is ever going to be perfect. (Whatever “perfect” means.)
2. Realize that no one job, (much like no one person) is going to be everything, solve all your problems, or make you 100% happy. Newsflash: jobs are just that. Jobs. They’re not designed to make YOU happy – they are designed for you to WORK for a company. Companies don’t care about your happiness. YOU have to care about your own happiness. Once you realize this, it can in many ways set you free. (And I won’t even go into those who feel that finding their “soulmates” think that one person is going to be their savior either…that’s really way too long for this post.)
Satisfaction, happiness, completion, harmony and ikigai–come from within. You’re never going to find them in external forces.
3. Maybe you need to do a lot of things at once, or have a portfolio, multipational career in order to be happy. I’ve often argued that to put all your career eggs into one basket is a dangerous thing anyway…but beyond the safety net, maybe you just need a lot of creative input by doing multiple things or having multiple interests in your life (like me). As early as high school, I “suffered” or “benefited” from this (whichever way you choose to look at it). I was in band–played multiple instruments. I sang. I acted. I was a quiz bowl team member. I did a lot of extra curricular stuff – and I LOVE that it worked different parts of my brain.
If you can identify with this – realize as I have that you may need to feed your soul through multiple channels, rather than just one.
4. Work on being 100% you. As I’ve said before, the world will LOVE to push back on your work and say that you’re too this, too that, blah blah blah. The universe loves to challenge you with your own authenticity…and it is a test. (I just read an article about this test too – in that some feel it’s the way to weed out those candidates who don’t really want a new gig vs. the ones that do – by the hiring manager literally challenging the candidate on this very point.)
On this point, when I’m personally challenged, I always think of the line that Liam Neeson’s character in the movie Taken says to his daughter’s kidnappers:
- “But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
Your skill set is very particular as well. It won’t be for everyone – and I’m here to declare THAT’S OK! You (and/or your skill set) may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Great! That means you can move on and find where your particular skill set IS valued. Where you WILL be helpful to the universe. Don’t settle until you find that place!
In conclusion, if you feel stuck in the waiting room before group therapy for overachievers anonymous, congrats. That’s actually a pretty cool place to be – even though you may feel stuck. You’re never stuck. In fact, I think if you really ponder the bullets above, you may realize that you have the freedom to walk out or move on. Besides, what usually happens right before major positive change is frustration. Angst. Questioning. So if you’re there – push yourself a bit to maybe move out of that waiting room, and create your best life now, before waiting for someone else to hand it to you. Because if you keep on waiting…you’re going to be waiting for a long, long time.
*Image from: FreeImages.com