Your Next Career Success: 5 Things You Must Know

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You are looking for your next gig. I meet a ton of people at this stage of life, normally in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Careers are much more fluid than in the old days. And, we are working longer.

Some are fairly at peace with the transition at hand. There is the larger group who are scared. Their fear may be pushed down and controlled, but it’s there. Lastly, those who are fully-employed, and “trapped by moderate success”. A large slice of mankind that has a steady paycheck, but wants more out of career and life.

Go back to choosing your first career out of college. You had no money and very limited perspective. You knew nothing, and were just beginning to find your way from a place where thought you knew everything.

Time goes by. We all get wiser. (If I keep learning from my mistakes, I’ll be a genius by the time I die.) We are masters at creating obligations and responsibilities. Much of what we tried to figure out when we were young children, and then reinforced along the way, turns out to be downright lies. You don’t really know that. You don’t understand how much those inaccurate beliefs stand squarely in your way. 

Nonetheless, it all more or less works, until it doesn’t. Life happens and you find your way to what is now a fantastic opportunity. That’s the first thing we all need to get through our heads now. Don’t be worried about recreating your life with more of what you want and less of what you don’t. Be freaking excited!

1.    Fear won’t serve you. Do most seasoned executives-in-transition walk around like scared rabbits? Of course not. We have this thing called an ego that is there to protect us. (It does so with mixed results.) We know we can’t show up as needy. But, unless the person truly doesn’t need a job, and /or has done a lot of deep internal work, fear will be present by default. As we start to dig down a little, that fear stares back at us with an ugly grimace.

I’ve met people who were terrified because the severance package was running out in a few months. Fear can be about financial security, the process itself, rejection, not knowing what to do, never finding the right next place, and so much more.

It’s in our heads. That doesn’t mean it’s not real and powerful. To the contrary. That’s my point. Here’s the thing though, don’t even consider ever, ever, ever just stopping there. Don’t try to create your fantastic future from a place of fear and other emotional baggage. You cannot get there from here.

You have two choices.

A.   Allow that underlying current (or in-your-face terror) to be there. It won’t feel good. It will cripple your efforts, whether you think you have it under control or not. If it’s there, it’s in your way. Or,

B.   Clear it up. Maybe not all, but most. This is about the conversation you are having with yourself. It’s about evaluating your internal and external world differently. 

2.    Do the things you are doing, but be different. You enter programs, hire resume writers, work with search firms, and network like crazy. Do all of that. Be strategic, diligent, and active. What I want is for you to be super-charged. You see, we are all born in perfection. Through no ill-intentions, we diligently mess it up as time marches on. Our egos – our external selves - start putting on ankle weights. We even become proud of those ankle weights. “Hey, look at me. I am chasing around with 30 lbs. on each leg!” 

Imagine everything you are doing, but without the ankle weights. Imagine if you could be utterly focused on everything that is good and powerful within you. From knowing your Authentic Self, to the experiences, the successes, the learning. Consider if you truly showed up empty. Empty of judgment, regret, fear, judging the past, comparing to others, fretting about your age, and all the rest. Can you see the velocity of that “guy”? Do you get a sense for how that person will create what he or she truly wants? Through deliberate choice, not by default. I am talking about your career, but much bigger. The life through and around your career.

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3.    Dream big. It is hard to contemplate the meaning of life when you are lying in a bed of hot coals. Those who are afraid, pressured, influenced by others, have rules about what must be, running out of time. You are not going to be able to deliberately create what you truly want from that place. You won’t be able to dream big. You won’t be able to create the picture, let alone find and land that job and all the rest. The gap is too big.

This is your chance. What if you could hit pause? I am not talking about a six-month sabbatical in the midst of your job search. I am saying: Get real with yourself right now. Get the bullshit out of your way. Dream about not just the career you want, but the life you want. This is not about money, but money’s a part of it. Right now, this is your chance to get it right.

4.    Do you need a two-step? That depends. I add this as a safety hatch. I meet people that need a job. I meet people that have a career that is anything but rich and juicy. And, they are not going to be able to go directly from a bad situation to an unbelievably wonderful one in a single step. Let’s say you are at A and you want to go B. A is not the career and life you want. Maybe A in your case is not having a job at all. Let’s say you followed the process, and did the work to get clear on B. I want your B to feel so good when you hold it in your hands you want to cry. You give thanks for the clarity and commitment you have to it. And, I ask, why on God’s green earth would anyone settle for anything other than that? 

But, perhaps you can’t quite get from A to B. You need to do the internal and related work I am preaching about. You may need to get your external house in order, the last kid off to college, or whatever it is. If I am building a strategy from A to B, might I find a bridge? Changes in the job I have. A new job that feels like it’s in the right direction. BTW, that bridge just could develop into the big dream. If it does, wonderful. Otherwise, I am not going to settle indefinitely. I will see my big dream, refine it, evolve it, and create it!

5.    Clean up your act. This is woven throughout the fabric of my writing here. I started with fear, but we have lots of rocks in our backpacks. These sub-optimize our lives, our relationships, our careers, and our decisions. But, only 100% of the time. 

You have to clean those up. Or, run around with your ankle weights on. Your choice, but it is a choice. There is a process. It takes some time, but it typically begins to shift quickly. Executives in transition sometimes feel they don’t have the time, focus, and money. Their hands are full.

Here is what I know. With the people I meet, it is not about money. Money is always solvable.  People make wrong decisions for wrong reasons. We are talking about you making more money, getting their faster, and having an immeasurably richer life for the next 10, 20, years and beyond.

If you get truly committed to yourself and the life you want to create. If you get clear on wanting to put your best foot forward in a powerful way every single day. If you can see who you are, what you have inside, and what you are capable of doing.  Well, you won't futz around and let anything stand in your way. If you get committed, you will find a way.

CareerDon Scott