Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire

Out of the frying pan and into the fire... Pamela Slim - Escape From Cubicle NationPamela Slim, who has a business teaching you to “escape from cubicle nation,” had a great post yesterday describing an executive who “had it all” but wasn’t happy.

I remember last year in my job search as I was applying for jobs that would help me grow, provide the income I wanted, or give me my executive status back, I was nervous! I was nervous about working with dumb people again. I was nervous about the long hours in a job, with a two hour commute each day. I was nervous about new political situations, or walking into a “good ol’ boys club,” or starting a job with big responsibility and figuring out how to fit into the team … and many other things.

I think I was most nervous about not upgrading my life. I had just left one hellacious job (yes, I was there for a long time, and it’s a long story), and I didn’t want to get into another situation that was running me into the ground. I wanted better.

And I was afraid I wouldn’t find better.

Over the last few months as I’ve had the privilege to work with career experts, and reflect on it, I’ve been able to piece together some of the things that I didn’t understand before. Here are some things that I wish I would have known last year that would have helped ease my nerves:

  1. It’s going to happen again. Penelope Trunk - Brazen CareeristWhy did I think I could find the perfect job that would last until I retired (or, help me retire early ;))? Statistics say we’ll have 9 job changes in our career… and Penelope Trunk’s new book says Gen Y will have nine jobs before they are thirty! Instead of looking at my professional career as ‘I worked at X company and had a great time” it will be more of “I was an xyz problem solver/rainmaker for various companies helping them to…”
  2. Preparation should not go on the back-burner. I should have realized that once I landed a job I should be preparing for the next change, which would likely happen in the next three years. Sure I would give 100% to doing my job but maybe I should consider more training to broaden my skillset, take on special projects to improve my resume, network like crazy (become a power connector),
  3. There’s more to happiness than job success. My life was out of balance – I needed to reevaluate priorities and really put time into areas that are important, not neglecting them by hiding behind my job.
  4. Blood is thicker than water. I needed to put my family first… I’m sad to say that I put even trivial job things before family things. Funny thing is, that job gave me a small severence package, but my family has stuck by my side and supported me even after the severence ran out. Too bad I put my investment in the wrong place.
  5. A good coach is critical. I “couldn’t afford” a professional coach so I didn’t look. But there are peer coaches at network meetings each week. You should BE a coach to someone else, as teaching will help you understand the princiles better. But seriously consider investing in a professional career/job coach. They will ask the real questions without beating around the bush, or worrying about hurting your feelings, etc. Sure they aren’t cheap, but if you can invest in a few hours that might be just what you need to get started on the right path.

What do you think? What’s missing from this list?

3 thoughts on “Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Fire”

  1. Good points and now I’ve got to remember and apply them all, once I figure out my next act in life! To expand slightly on the first point, and related to the second point, it’s important to build that “rainy day fund” to see you through the period of time when no (or relatively little) money is coming in. Most of my transitions in the past were very stressful because I had little savings (and a family to provide for). In my current exploration, it’s a lot more enjoyable because I’m not worrying about how to meet “day-to-day” expenses. And, I’m really enjoying meeting people and starting new relationships with a long-term perspective.

  2. I like #2 the best. You have to have a sense for where you want to go so you can prepare for it. That’ll help you figure out what training you go get so that it not only pertains to your current situation, but sets you up for the next one. Ditto with those special projects. Sometimes those are discovery exercises to see if you’d like something, but I think you have to have the idea of where you might go next to help you weed out what kinds of discovery you might take on.

  3. Hi Jason,

    From your list of topics, it looks like you and I are reading the same blogs!

    In this day of political correctness, some may cringe, when I add spirituality and service to your list. What would you think about showing up at work this week energized by the recognition of work as an act of creation that reflects the nature of God?

    Spirituality in the work place does not to be associated with bible studies at lunch or evangelizing our co-workers, it is about recognizing people for their contributions, thanking them by name and valuing their service. Check my link for a workplace leadership sermon by Nancy Ortberg recommended by Guy Kawasaki. Workplace spirituality is about knowing people, recognizing their contributions and building relationships while creating value.


Comments are closed.