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Why You’re a Passenger in Your Career

This is a guest blog post by Corey Harlock about professionals with no career plan.

no career plan, career, job, plan, job search, change your path

Many of us are passengers in our job or career.  You go to work, do your job and hope someone recognizes your hard work. If “they” do actually recognize your contributions then you have to hope they actually deliver on their promise of career advancement and give you a promotion.

It’s like going on a road trip. It’s having no career plan.

Imagine you and your spouse, friend – whoever, are driving down the road on a hot summer day on a vacation you have been looking forward to for months.

You’ve done all your planning, made your reservations and planned your route.  You’ve been on the road for 6 hours when your co-pilot says, “We’re going the wrong way.”

What happens next?

There are only 3 responses to the statement “we’re going the wrong way.”

  1. If we keep going this way will there be a connector where we can get headed back in the right direction? This is usually the first option. Can we still get there from here?
  2. Do we need to turn around? This is usually the second option. If we need to turn around how far back do we have to go before we head in the right direction and start making progress again?
  3. Where will we end up if we just keep heading in this direction?  This is the least common and generally reserved for thrill seekers and the truly spontaneous. Where options 1&2 are safe and conservative, this option is risky and you never know where you’ll end up.

So why in our work life do most of us take option #3 (i.e. no career plan)?

Think about it for just a minute.  We join a company excited about the future and possibilities.  After 3 months we know there is no future and aren’t excited about the possibilities BUT we stay there anyway – along for the ride, not knowing where we will end up. We’re caught in the monkey trap!

How often in your career or work life have you thought, “Can I get to a job I’ll love from here?” Or, “how far back do I need to go to get back on track and headed in the right direction?”

My experience with no career plan.

I know I did it for 3 years.  I worked for a company that I hated BUT the whole time I was with them all I thought about was how to get promoted.  Get promoted into a position that I would’ve hated in a company I didn’t like.  I was the definition of option #3.  Along for the risky ride not knowing where I would end up.

Until I had the realization that I could change my course by breaking my old habits– all by myself! I didn’t need them.

How I fixed it.

So I developed a plan.  The first step was to approach the company I didn’t like with a proposal for a job that I would love!  I wanted to see if I could get there from here – option #1.

After they made it clear that I could not get there from here, I tried option #2.  I back tracked as far as I had to so I could get back on the route that I wanted, the path that met my needs and made me happy.  That path lead me to professional recruiting and even better – working with people who need to re-discover their “path.”

If you are in a situation where you’re doing a job that is different than was advertised, in a bad or toxic environment with a boss that uses your hard work to push their agenda where A bad job search resulted in a bad employer. Or  you don’t feel valued, appreciated or respected I encourage you to review your options and get back on the right “path” for you.

How will you fix this problem with no career plan?

I have always wondered why we plan our day, our holidays our families but not our careers? You need to focus on what you love to do.

Let me know what you will do to “change your path” below and I will answer back.  Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Thanks Brett Levin Photography for the photo via Flickr.

Written by: Corey Harlock
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Categories: Career Advice

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