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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Always in transition — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

July 7th, 2014 Comments off

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I frequently find myself speaking to careerists who are in transition from one job to another or one career to another. I have also been involved in my own career transition over the last year or so. While we all might like to think that transition is a short term process, I have discovered, looking back over the past year and my whole life, that transition is not a fleeting process we fall into and out of. Rather, life is truly nothing but one long transition — a state of constant flux. We might have dreams and desires for stability, but in a world that is constantly changing, stability is only an illusion and a temporary one at that.

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When you first realize the you are always in transition, it can seem a bit frightening. It can feel like you are the mercy of the time and tides, being buffeted about without any ability to control what is happening around you. You do have some control, though, but it requires that you pay deep attention to the your life, your thoughts and your actions. Yes, if you let the world push you around, it will gladly (and easily) do so. If you, instead, take your life directly into your own hands, you can ride the waves of change and transition in ways that best benefit you.

In many ways, I think that humans have been living their lives with the wrong goals for several centuries now. The history of Man has been a constant striving for stability, for safety. While this may have served us well in the days of hungry predators stalking our camps and deadly diseases running rampant through the land, I think think it serves us less well now. While there are some people in the world that still lack the basic necessities of life, for most of us, the days of starvation, disease and early death are gone. Our basic needs are met. Given this basic stability of life and limb, we now need to look outwards towards the new, the different, the change, the transitions in our lives and embrace them

So many people bemoan the boredom of their work and life today and I think this comes from an overabundance of stability into their lives. They probably fought long and hard to make enough money, buy that large house, the fancy car, but now, having focused exclusively on stability, they don’t know what to do next. Fear of change and fear of transition has ruled their life to such a point that they are stuck in place, stalled by their own success. We all need to learn that once basic stability is established, it is time to embrace a little risk, a little fear, a little change, in order to continue growing both personally and professionally.

The hard truth is, stability is a fragile state. Just because you have it today, doesn’t mean you will have it tomorrow…or the next day. Our lives can be turned upside down overnight and if you have let your transitional skills atrophy through disuse, you will find it even harder to adapt to change in the future. We have all seen people who are nearly destroyed when their carefully ordered life falls apart. They have been comfortable for so long that, not only do they not want to uncomfortable, they have forgotten HOW to be uncomfortable, how to transition, how to recover.

Challenges will come in your life, unwanted, unbeckoned and unforeseen. You can better deal with these challenges by remembering that transition is a constant in our lives. If we see ourselves as being in a constant state of transition, we are better able to weather the storms that break upon us. We are able to roll with the waves of change rather than letting them swamp us, capsize us and drive us under.

No matter how stable, or unstable, your life is today, I think a change of attitude is in order. I know I have had to adjust my own thinking of late. We need to see transition and change as a force for good in our lives, not evil. Change isn’t something to be avoided, but rather cultivated, engaged and used as a tool to improve our lives. Rather than seeking out stability as a end goal in itself, we need look to the edges, the transitions and see what marvellous new lives we can create there. As I wrote last week, the most exciting events in our lives don’t happen in the stable middle. They happen at those crazy edges, the fringes, where different ideas and actions rub up against one another. If we truly want to improves our lives and careers, we need to be looking there.


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Archive: How is your career story changing over time? — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 31st, 2013 Comments off

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Would you read a story or novel where, at the end, nothing has changed? Would you feel anything for a character who has learned nothing over the course of the book? Would you read the next book in the series? I think not. That fact is, change is what makes a great story. We want characters who learn new things and change over time. We want to know more about them. We want to understand their decisions based on past behavior. The same goes for your career. If you aren’t changing, both personally and professionally, why should anyone care about your career?


Books by Douglas E. Welch

We have all seen them — people who got their first job right out of high school and never left. They are doing the same work today that they started doing 10, 15, 20 years ago. This isn’t to say that they are bad people or bad workers, only that the failure to change, for whatever reason, can trap us in our lives and our work. If you want to insure a more successful, and varied, career you need to embrace change and communicate that change to those around you.

In the past, I have talked extensively about developing career stories that can be used to explain your work, and your career desires, to those around you. “Change stories” are one particular type of these stories. In my experience, communicating your career change is as important as change itself. Without it, you may have changed dramatically, but unless others know it, it makes no difference.

So, how do you share the changes in your life with those around you? It is often as simple as opening your mouth. Do you discuss the new books you are reading with others? How about new software, computers and gadgets? What magazines or web sites have you discovered recently? Do you let your friends know when you enjoy one of their recommendations? If not, make a point to start sharing your changes today. Recommend that great book on management to someone who might find it useful. Forward a particularly good, and appropriate, web article to your boss or co-workers. Let those around you know how your knowledge and thoughts are changing over time.

I consider change communication to be one of the most important aspects of my writing, both here and in my blogs. I love sharing neat, new information with people, but it also gives me a chance to show how my thoughts and knowledge are changing over time. This is especially true when I have some form of epiphany that changes something fundamental about my work or life. Perhaps I have stopped recommending a particular piece of software or discovered a new type of cuisine. This makes my life more interesting, both to me and, hopefully, to my readers, friends and family. It is an important aspect of giving my life, and my life story, some excitement. Just like a character in a great novel, it makes people want to know more about me.

To bring this back to the work world, what changes are you communicating to your managers and coworkers? Have you been reading management books lately? Which ones? Did you enjoy them? What lessons did you learn? If you aspire to management, the simple act of sharing your thoughts on these books is enough to plant that idea in your managers mind. “Hmm, we need a new manager for this department. You know, I was talking about the latest Tom Peter’s book with Douglas the other day and he really seemed to know his stuff. Maybe we should ask him.” While this is an idealized scenario, you can clearly see how communicating the changes in your life can plant the seed that could grow into something much bigger.

Want to be a programmer? Start talking programming with your co-workers. Want to move into advertising, or graphics, or anything else, start sharing your thoughts, reading and learning with those around you. Tell your story frequently and well to all who will listen. Share the story of your life and career changes. Let others know where you are headed and what you want. If you do, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the new opportunities that come your way, both in your career and in your life.


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