When it comes to important decisions about your career, are you waiting for someone else to give you permission, or to encourage you, or guide you, or even offer you an invitation to make a change. Essentially you’re waiting for someone else to “green light” your career progress. I call this career procrasti-waiting.
The thing is… while you’re waiting to get the go ahead, you’re keeping your career stuck. And, more enterprising individuals will cruise right on past you, snaffling up and becoming successful in the types of opportunities you’d like for yourself.
You want to change but you’re standing in your own way
I became a career coach and started my business in 2020. To those working with me in the years immediately prior, the change might have seemed sudden. But, it was actually 15 years in the making!
Yes… back in 2004 I was desperate to get off the corporate hamster-wheel. I took a few months off and hoped an answer would come to me… it didn’t. Turns out epiphanies don’t happen without some effort. I was career procrasti-waiting.
In 2012, I had another opportunity to work things out. Instead I spent a year completing another degree, reading books, doing online courses, contemplating a move to academia, and generally looking for enlightenment before financial necessity catapulted me back into the corporate arena. I was career procrasti-waiting.
Finally by 2019 I was ready. What was different? I’d learned I couldn’t apply my old ways of thinking if I really wanted to achieve a radical change. I confess… I didn’t know immediately what that change would be exactly. Even now, everything is continually evolving. But I was ready to stop waiting for someone to green light the path ahead, to open the door myself and walk through it.
How to stop procrasti-waiting to make career progress
1. WHAT’S BEYOND YOUR RADAR?
In my case, I’d only ever known one way of doing things (more or less) in my career. When I wanted a new job I always followed the same process – polish up my resumé, reach out to recruiters, talk to my network and scour the web for advertised positions. Unsurprisingly this always landed me in exactly the same place. In order to start thinking differently you need to understand what else is out there – in terms of both options and processes.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR FEARS
The obstacles keeping you from making progress are your beliefs and your fears. Like many, I was worried about taking a salary cut, concerned what my friends and family would think, scared of being judged by my colleagues and peers… and mostly about the (perceived) embarrassment of my impending spectacular failure. Once you name your fears, you can start to move past them. You can’t completely eradicate them but you can “turn the volume down” so they don’t bother you so much.
3. THERE IS POWER IN YOUR CONNECTIONS
I promise you, you already know people who can help you. And, there’s also a wide world out there filled other amazing people who’d willingly help… if only you’d ask. I know the concept of networking can feel icky… so, consider this not as an exercise to “sell” yourself into a job but as creating a professional support group. Enlist those you know and those they know to guide and assist you to find new options and ways of doing things.
4. IT’S OK NOT TO KNOW THE END GAME
Here’s something you need to let go of… waiting to know ALL the steps you need to take before you get started. You learn, you grow and you problem solve by not knowing everything up front. By employing a “beginner’s mindset” you’re open to learning and accept you might not already know the answer. This provides you with access to more ideas and a fresh perspective. Do your best to release preconceived notions and beliefs. Take a deep breath, then take the first step.
5. IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
Yes, it took me 15 years… but the truth is, it’s not over yet. My career and my business continues to be a work-in-progress. And those 15 years weren’t wasted… I learned, earned, evolved and adapted. I made some mistakes, took some distracting detours, and experienced dead ends. But I learnt important lessons, crossed ideas and possibilities off the list and incrementally made progress. Course correcting your career is rarely a quick fix, it requires commitment to see it through.
6. BE INSPIRED BY OTHERS, NOT DISCOURAGED
Do I sometimes experience the green-eyed gremlin when I watch those ahead of me basking in their business success? Do I think, “if only I’d gotten started sooner, I’d be there by now”? Hell yeah, I do. But comparison-itis won’t get you anywhere helpful. Instead be inspired by those achieving what you want. For the competitive amongst you, stop looking around and aim to compete only with yourself. Strive for “next year you” to be better than “this year you” and you’ll always be moving forward.
You can’t go back and get started sooner… but you can stop waiting for someone else to say it’s ok, and get started now. And, if you really can’t get started without someone telling you it’s ok, then let me be that person for you. You don’t have to do it alone. I’d love to help you work it out.