Don't Talk Yourself Out of It

Brian Young


Owner | Career Consultant | Coach

RockIt Career Consultation Services


As we age, we start taking on the bad habit of limiting ourselves. When we were young and the future was before us, the sky seemed like the limit. Ask any nine year old what they want to do when they grow up every day for a week and I can almost guarantee you that you'll hear a different answer each day. Nothing is out of bounds because they are unconstrained by limiting beliefs. They haven't been told that they "can't do that." They haven't pursued a particular education or training yet. They haven't faced failures or rejections. They haven't been ground down by the system. Rather, their future could be anything. And that is beautiful.


Then, as you approach high school graduation, if you go to college, you're asked, "What's going to be your major?" think. I never really thought about it. The next thought is, I better decide what I'm going to do for the rest of my life quickly! If you aren't going to college, then you're asked what your job is going to be when you graduate. You haven't thought an any more about your future than the college-bound kids. 


The truth is, at that age, can it really be expected that you're going to know what you want to do? Most kids don't have enough breadth of life experiences to decide what career they want to pursue. At the ripe age of 18, it's pretty much a stab in the dark. And so you pick something and see if it will work. The good part is that until you've become really invested, you can change your mind. In fact, many do. Studies indicate that over 80% of college students change their major. Likewise for the person who doesn't go to college, the early part of their adult life is spent moving between jobs until they find something that they like and seem to be pretty decent at.


As time goes on, life starts to solidify. Many of us get married, have children, and start a career (ironically, less than 30% of us end up working in our field of study). This is where the concept of sunk costs starts to come into play. The longer you do something, the more you feel committed to staying with it. There's a good chance that in your mind, the job field and career path you've selected is the only option for you. This is fine if what you're doing is something you enjoy and you have opportunities to move into more challenging roles. But for a lot of us, this isn't the case. We've trapped ourselves because we've put the blinders on to other fields or industries that we could transfer our knowledge, skills, and abilities to.


We've typecast ourselves just as some actors themselves are typecast for a role. We're only seeing ourselves in a certain way. So today we're going to discuss how you can break out of this and discover other roles or different industries in which you can be a good fit. You are not a one-dimensional person and your career shouldn't be one-dimensional either. 

Focus on Strengths and Skills, Not Job Titles

Sometimes we tie ourselves to a job title. It's what we know. But chances are, you've acquired skills along the way that are transferable to other opportunities that would be a good fit. Likewise, once you start to open yourself to other possibilities beyond your current or recent job roles, consider the type of work that you do best. What are types of projects and tasks that you naturally gravitate toward or excel at? These would be good indicators of what your strengths are.


Then it's matter of putting your strengths and skills together and start researching what else is out there in the big, wide world where you could make a contribution.


An excellent source of this kind of information is the Department of Labor's O*Net. It gives you the option of looking for careers based on keywords (e.g., your skills and strengths), industries, or interests. At the very least, your mental wheels will start turning. Another option is to do a reverse search on a job board. Instead of using a job title as a keyword in your search, type in a few of your skills and strengths to see what comes up. 


The bottom line is you need to explore a little. There are likely a lot of things you could do, and be successful, than you ever realized. From this initial research, network with people who are in the field or industry to make sure it's something you'd like to pursue further.

Acquire New Skills Incrementally

No matter how broad your skill set may be, there are always things that you could learn to make you even more competitive in the job market. For instance, if you have a talent or experience in one industry, you could probably do the same for another. However, there might be a requirement for a particular license or certification, for instance, that keeps you from moving forward. Now is the time to put in the effort required to get the certification you need in order to get you a step closer to the role in which you're interested.


Don't get overwhelmed with it all. Just take it one skill at a time. Once you have a skill up to a level that is "good enough" (a solid C+) move on to the next one and build the next skill up. Keep doing it! You're goal is not to reach expert-level on any one skill, that's a quick way to become a one-trick pony; rather, you want to have a whole package of skills that can be of use to others. You want to be valuable. The more tools you have in your tool-belt, the more things you can fix or create.

Be Willing to Move Backwards to Get Ahead

Not to sound too Forest Gumpy, but life is like a game of chess. Just like you have to sacrifice a piece to get into position for a check-mate, sometimes you have sacrifice something dear to you in order to get to a place you want to be in your career.


That could mean taking a salary cut or moving back from a leadership role to a non-leader role. It could mean being a big fish in little pond and becoming to a little fish in a big pond. Whatever it is, it can be a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes it's necessary. Pride shouldn't be part of your equation.


You need to keep your eye on the prize and understand this can come with the territory of a career move.

Focus on the Future, Not the Past

Whatever route you take in your career, there is only one direction, mentally, to be focused on - the future.


For instance, if you had a bad experience in a recent job, shake it off. It's not reflective of you or your abilities. It's reflective of being a bad fit. You never fail, you learn. Now it's time to take what you learned and move on.


Likewise, just because you've always worked in a particular role or in a particular industry, doesn't mean you can't work elsewhere doing something different. Think of it like this: you can pack all your knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes into a suitcase and take them anywhere. The question you'll have to answer is, "What's your destination?"

About RockIt Career Consultation Services

At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.


We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.


We'd love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!

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