"Should I stay or should I go?"
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the one that we seek.”
Making a proactive career choice is like designedly paving the road of your professional life. The dilemma of staying put or switching directions by making a career move, either by applying for a more senior role, changing companies, becoming a contractor or a consultant within your chosen field or pursuing something different altogether, could put a halt to building the perfect career path.
Your personal identity is entangled with your professional life, which makes the choice of holding onto what you have or exploring the unknown even harder.
3 clients: different ages, different professions – same dilemma.
"Simon" is in his 20s with a post-graduate diploma, working in what he considers to be a dead-end job. He feels under-appreciated and underpaid and works every hour God sent hoping to be landed a project that could kick-start his career. He is acutely aware that he must change companies in order to progress and to fulfil his desire of being part of something meaningful that benefits society. However familiarity, fear of failure and a lack of confidence in his abilities present him with a conundrum.
"Michael" is in his 30s and working within the finance industry. He feels burnt out, overloaded and despondent. He is considering three different options; staying where he is now, becoming self-employed in order to do contract work within his field or pursuing his life ambition of becoming a writer.
Although he has no job satisfaction in his current role he has financial security, which is especially important as he has a young family. He acknowledges his dissatisfaction with his current role but is paralysed with fear when thinking about risking financial security. He feels stuck and unable to make a decision.
"Paul" is in his 40s and works for an IT company in a senior role. He is working long hours and sits on the commuter train day in, day out and longs for bigger financial rewards and for a leadership/managerial role. He is uncertain whether to stay with his current company where he has been working for the past 10 years, or to jump ship and work for a different company. Stepping out of his comfort zone fills him with fear and keeps him stuck.
In each case the dilemma is fuelled by one common denominator: fear. Although fear and doubt have their place in life they rarely create anything motivating or inspiring; instead they hold you back from experiencing a more fulfilled life. Fear of change, fear of failure and fear of the unknown often lead to self-sabotage and unwillingness to make sacrifices. Any form of change, including career change, carries its own risks; however it is almost impossible to progress in life without taking calculated risks.
In order to make an informed decision the following must be considered:
- Motivation – what am I trying to escape from? What appeals to me about a new opportunity? What is truly important to me in life and why?
- Challenge and face fears - what is the worst that can happen? What am I afraid of the most? If the worst happened, how could I cope and what strategies I could employ?
- Limiting beliefs - what do I believe about myself and the situation that holds me back from making a decision?
Stepping up to the plate and having an honest conversation with yourself or with a Life Coach can be daunting, but at the same time amazingly liberating. Suddenly it is all out in the open and you know what you want and why.
The next stage in the decision-making process is finding out the facts.
- Staying put. It could allow you to progress within the company and climb the corporate ladder, or it could hinder personal and professional growth.
- Choosing to work for a different company. It could open up new opportunities, increased learning potential and acquirement of new skills and could bring greater financial reward. Before deciding to jump ship it is always wise to do thorough research and the find out the corporate culture, leadership and financial stability of the company you would like to work for as well as making sure that there is an opportunity for progression within the company.
- Becoming self-employed carries the most risk with its unpredictability, and at the same time offers the biggest rewards such as unlimited earning potential and control over your life, time and career. Investigating the potential for your ideas and possibilities and considering routes to your target market and the aspects of demand and value will aid you in the decision making process.
If, after checking out the facts, you are still considering a career move then there is a magic word that can yield success: planning. Creating a goal-focused, realistic and doable plan is your final card to play in the decision making process. Your plan should take care of all the ‘what ifs’ by taking a solution-focused direction and by drawing up not only a plan A but also a plan B and C. Of course, no matter how thorough your plan is things can still go wrong; therefore you must mentally prepare yourself to become as resilient as you can be.
3 clients: same dilemma – 3 different decisions.
Simon overcame his self-doubt by challenging his limiting beliefs, and decided to trust in his abilities and apply for positions that aided his professional growth and were better paid. His long term plan is to do free-lance work; however he knows that before this can happen he needs to gather more experience and learn new skills. He is no longer afraid of failure or paralysed by the fear of inadequacy because he believes in himself and has a solid plan of action to follow.
Michael decided to put the dream of becoming a writer on hold for now as his priority lay with providing for his family. However, he came to understand himself, his motives and desires and embarked on a new adventure of contracting with in his field of work, using the connections he made while working for different companies. He did not make this decision lightly and it took over 2 months to let go of his fear, to research his options and to make a plan and to resign.
Paul is still working for the same company but became more open to the idea of making a move when the time felt right for him.
Moving on, you see, might not be the best option for everyone - hence the importance of self-evaluation and self-understanding. Casting your fears aside and listening to your intuition and doing what feels right for you is really crucial. In reality no-one can advise you better than you can advise yourself; you know who you are and what your values, ambitions and inspirations are. You just need to have the courage to stand by them. There is always a choice in life and you have the power to choose to stay put or to change career. Choose what is best for you.