Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Accommodating and thriving in the midst of change in jobs and careers 3 – external and internal motivation, and taking ownership of our own careers

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on May 11, 2013

This is my third posting in a series on change and even disruptive change as it can reshape our work lives and our careers. See:

Part 1: putting change in perspective and
Part 2: finding and taking a first positive step forward in the face of job loss and career disruption.

I began this series with an initial focus on the disruptive nature of sudden change, and of how loss of a job and for all too many, even a career path can be disruptively stressful. I cited other series and resources that I have been developing in this blog, and particularly in my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development (see its first directory page and its continuation page.) I turn here to consider issues of mental outlook, and more specifically our sense as to whether we shape and control our own fate, or whether we are significantly influenced and even controlled by outside forces: luck, chance or the decisions of others.

• Successful job and career planning and follow-through call for a sense of personal control, and an awareness of the fact that we can shape our destines, and that we in fact have to do so if we are to know, let alone reach our own best personal career goals.
• Someone else, chance and fate, unpredictable circumstances … outside factors and even unpredictable outside factors might arise that open unexpected doors for us. But we have to be prepared to pick up on those opportunities from our own planning and preparation and our own willingness to take a leap into the New if we are to benefit from them.
• Someone else, chance and fate, unpredictable circumstances … outside factors and even unpredictable outside factors might arise that close doors, end jobs and that in extreme cases can and at times do end career paths as viable options. Once again, we have to be prepared and ready to take the initiative from there in finding a new way forward and taking that first step, and the next and next after that.

And here is the really important point to this posting:

• Even people who are basically self-motivated and who see themselves as masters of their own fates and lives and who tend to take ownership of their actions and of their consequences, can slip into a pattern of seeing themselves as being outwardly limited and of being controlled by outward forces when hit by a major life disruption such as a sudden and unexpected job or career path loss.

The effect of that can at times, even amount to what amounts to paralysis. As an extreme consequence of job and career loss, I have seen that happen to people who I have worked with and who I know to be real assets wherever they do work and for any business they work with. They lose their job and through no fault of their own and then, absent the structure and purpose they have experienced in their lives, they spend their time in disarray when they could be more effectively planning out and executing upon targeted job search campaigns. They slip into patterns of activity that keep them moving and busy and that take up their days, but not necessarily in ways that would help them to move forward, or move anywhere in particular. And they slip into self-doubt and depression; they go into mourning for what they have lost as I briefly touched upon in Part 2 and they need help to pull out of that.

I admit here that I have seen this up close from directly working with, and counseling and mentoring colleagues who were out of work and looking, and add that that is what prompted me to start writing my jobs and careers Guide in the first place. I actually wrote a number of my early postings for that from notes and handouts that I had written while trying to help some of those colleagues to get more organized, so they could increase their chances of job search success. And some of those early postings grew out of emails I sent out and from talks I have given to groups. But to shift back more directly to the topic of this posting I add, consistent with all that I have written there:

• Even when outside factors and forces throw a disruptive turn into our work lives and career paths, finding a new direction forward out of that disruption and moving on from it has to come from us. That is the good news; we can do that and move forward in changing and even restarting our careers if needed, ourselves.
• We can also do this with others, including search buddies – colleagues who are also looking and who we can collaborate with in this, each helping to keep the other motivated and taking next job search steps, reviewing and offering third party advice on resume and cover letter effectiveness, etc.
• We can seek out mentors and counselors who can give us focused advice as we run into questions we need experienced and even expert help with.
• And networking is of paramount importance for essentially anyone who seeks to develop and pursue an effective career path and whether they are working or searching or both (see my series: Jumpstarting Your Networking at the top of the Social Networking and Business directory page.)

But the core point here is that this all comes about as a result of our taking the initiative and from the fact that we can in fact shape our own careers and lives – not always in everything but in enough. And at this point I openly admit that this series in in fact a direct continuation of my just completed Career Changes, Career Transitions series (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 285-305), here focusing on resources and perspectives that might be needed in order to find and pursue a Plan B career planning (or a Plan C or D.) This posting and this series in general are about understanding and clearing away the clutter that we can mentally bring to the table with us, when we need to do that more effectively to succeed.

I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment where I will consider the issues of job and career timeframes, and of knowing and understanding what type of timeframe you are planning and carrying out your career path along – and the consequences that can create. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2 and at my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.

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