I have been thinking about the career journeys of my clients. There are the “high engagement” times and there are the “low engagement” times, and many moments in between. We do this exercise so we can extract the elements of what they love to do, like to do and don’t ever want to do again. They then focus on how they can create or find those “high engagement” moments again be it in their current job, a new job or a new entrepreneurial adventure.
These ups and downs to their careers were made by big changes (lay offs, resignations, deaths, births, moves, marriages, etc.) but what made those changes a “high” or “low engagement” were the small changes the clients made — in their approach, mindset, resolve. These were small shifts that made a huge impact to how they viewed their experience.
This observation lead me to a Forbes December 2002 article, “How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career” by Herminia Ibarra. Sprinkled with Stanford cognitive studies, Ms. Ibarra reached a similar conclusion: “Your career is made by small steps of “testing and learning” instead of self-assessment, advice of close ones and the broad counsel of change professionals. Making a single bold move can bring us back to square one all too quickly.”
So how do we take these “turtle steps” with our career? Follow the clues. What excites you? What have you always wanted to do/try? What is your curiosity focusing on? Head that way, my friend. These are small steps that can make a big impact in your career and life. Let me give you an example.
Bob is a retired military veteran with technical skills that he did not really enjoy. His real love is art. His thrill is to spend hours wandering through Boston’s Museum of Art. He is also in love with teaching children and, in fact, has considered pursuing a teaching credential but feels he is “too old.” I encouraged him to follow his art love and speak to the employees at the museum perhaps about volunteering, particularly when a school group comes in. As it turned out, the museum was considering creating such an “Educational Liaison” paid position to increase youth traffic. Boom! Bob was hired and couldn’t be happier.
That is just one example of taking small steps which leads to a successful career move. What small steps might you consider? Where does your curiosity take you? Where have you really wanted to contribute your talents? Make those alternative futures more vivid and more doable. Redefine your identity by testing and learning what shifts or tweaks feel more “you.” Craft experiments. Shift your people connections. Learn what it is that you want to do next. Your excitement and curiosity will lead you in the direction that makes perfect sense for you.
NOTE: What “turtle steps” make sense for you? Let me help you brainstorm. Schedule a 50-min complimentary Breakthrough Session here: https://karendarrin.acuityscheduling.com/ or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s get started!