Our Career is a Journey

Where is this journey taking me?

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”

Rumi

There are times in our careers when we face the unknown.  Even in careers where we are planning and working towards our goals, we can find ourselves at a fork in the road where direction becomes unclear.

Changes in momentum

Early in my career, I experienced a curveball.  My position was made redundant.

This was a fork in the road that I had not foreseen.  Up until this moment, I had been growing my career, investing in my knowledge, honing my skills and building my experience.  My ultimate goal?  To lead an organisation.

Did I have control over where I found myself?

No.

Did I have control over my new direction?

Absolutely.

But I hadn’t planned for this abrupt change.  Up until this moment, my career had plans, goals and direction – all of which gave me a sense of momentum.

Our best learning comes from experience.

Stalling momentum

I recall vividly feeling the shock of the restructure that made my position redundant.

The first decision I made was not to buy into the drama the organisation was experiencing.

It was important to draw a line in the sand and move forward, taking the experience gained from the role into my future.

The second decision was tougher.  I needed to believe in myself, in my goals and in my journey.

Initially, the loss of momentum was palpable.  I went from full speed, to stalled in a very short period.  Subsequent discussions with individuals who have been through this experience confirm my own insights that this period is critical.

Erin Greenawald makes some good points in her article on career planning:

The critical focus is to stop the stall spiraling into a free-fall.

Signs of free-fall

Free-falls are a risk for those who experience redundancy.  Two of the most common risks to be managed at the front end of this experience are:

·      Loss of confidence

Reflected in a loss of belief in capabilities.  This is probably the most common response after redundancy.  An individual’s sense of self-worth and self-value can hit an all time low. And so it goes on.

·      Loss of connection

Organisation structure, colleagues, emails and phone calls are lost.  This is a risky period.

Find an anchor

A range of strategies can make a difference at this stage.  Connect with trusted colleagues, family, mentor or coach.  Keep the lines of communication open.  Ground self, reassure self, be reassured by those of valued opinion.

Like all experiences, good or bad, this is an opportunity for growth.

It’s helpful to read blogs by others who have experienced redundancy.  Elizabeth Alterman writes from a more recent experience.

Momentum, momentum, momentum

Ideally this unexpected fork in the road presents us with the opportunity to review our career direction and goals.

One of the positive outcomes of jolts to our careers is we get to reflect on where we are now and where we want to be without the constraints of an existing role.

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.”  Rumi

This speaks to the way out of a spiral – even if you have not nailed your new goals or direction – generate your momentum and let your goals catch up with you.

Does this post resonate with you?  I’d be interested in your experience.  Email me or leave a comment.