Career Advice Tuesday – Finding Your Way Back

September 7, 2010

Dear Mike (and Lee),

I was spending some time with your “Forget the Parachute” e-book (that you gave away at Defcon a couple of years ago) yesterday and I keep getting stuck at the vision exercise.

You see, I’ve gone through what you guys would call a “Career Incident” that blossomed into a “Life Incident”…. suffice it to say, the past year has been really difficult.

I feel like I had a vision for my life, and when that collapsed in front of me, I had a really hard time. So now I’m really afraid to lock in/ write down/ commit to a vision for the future… Logically I know I need to make a plan and work to make that happen, but I’m having a hard time getting past the fear of it not happening the way I want it to. I like plans. I like structure. I like predictability. And I have a hard time with the unexpected.

Any advice on how to move past the fear?

Needing Career Advice Tuesday

N-CAT,

Everyone who has ever experienced what author Thomas Moore calls the “dark night of the soul” has been where you are.  One of the most common feelings in the midst of a career (or life) incident is the loss of the ability to see forward into the future.

Especially when you’ve been hurt and you’re feeling beat up by the circumstances of whatever is going on, it can be incredibly scary to attempt to look forward into the future and find hope.  Indeed, this is actually the hardest part about hope – it’s always easiest to have hope when everything is good.  It’s never so easy to have hope when everything has been bad… hope, in those situations, can seem like the scariest thing one can possibly have.

Paradoxically, it’s at those times when hope is the most important.  Which is where your vision comes in.  Creating a vision will allow you to start to nurture your hope for a better future once again.

And, equally paradoxically, it’s important to remember what Mike Tyson said: “Everybody has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth“.   Don’t cling to your vision as though it’s a life preserver – just realize it’s a general direction and allow yourself to wander in the direction of your vision without trying too hard to hold on to every step along the way.  Predictability and structure are great, but rigidity only leads to disappointment.

Most importantly, allow yourself time to heal and cut yourself some slack.  If you’ve been through some traumatic events, it’s okay to admit that you don’t know for now.  Just work on a short-term plan (3-6 months) and allow yourself to come back to the vision later if that’s what your heart and mind really need.

In short, take your time and allow yourself to come back slowly.  Don’t try to force yourself to find hope for the future – let it come as it does.  And handle the short-term in the mean-time.

Hope that helped,

Mike & Lee

Posted by mmurray | Filed Under Behavior, Career Advice Tuesday 

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