Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 43: reconsidering work lives, careers and change as an ongoing progression

Posted in career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on March 31, 2017

This is my 43rd installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-42.)

I have been addressing a fairly wide range of issues and challenges, and opportunities too in course of writing this series. And I begin this installment to it by acknowledging that their diversity and the variety of distinctive defining points that they present, can make their differences appear to overwhelm any possible underlying similarities. What, for example does working with a difficult colleague, as delved into in Part 2: interpersonal conflict and related challenges have to do with retirement planning as more recently considered here in Parts 29-35 of this series? Retirement, among other things represents a transition point in which we leave the workplace and its dynamics, and our having to work effectively with colleagues in a professional setting, the difficult among them included.

I could as easily have selected any of a range of other disparate-seeming pairs of topics that I have addressed in this series, as a poster child example of the range of apparent differences covered.

• What do all of the issues and scenarios that are included here hold most significantly in common, and across their range of differences?
• What is the underlying thread that ties all of this series together?
• My goal for this posting is to step back from the more immediate and in-context pressing details the specific issues touched upon and examined here, to at least offer a first step answer to these two questions. And I begin doing so by picking up on a word that I slipped into the immediately preceding paragraph: “transitions.”

I have been writing throughout this series about work life as it is experienced, and as it is planned for – and as more backed into in that too and certainly when viewed from a longer-term career path perspective. And I have been pursuing that as one of the core common threads running through all of this: the ongoing need for ongoing systematic planning and of execution that is based upon it. But more significantly perhaps, I have been addressing issues and circumstances and decision points in which we face transition choices in our work lives – and even profoundly long-term impactful ones. And an underlying message that I have at least sought to convey through all of this diversity of narrative is the importance of being as aware and as proactively aware as possible of where you are now and where events and developments might take you – and take you to passively and without your having any meaningful, effective choice if you do simply back into them.

• My overall goal for this series has been, through discussion and analysis of a wide range of scenarios, to offer a better alternative – or rather a clearer perspective on how you can find your own better alternatives.
• And my goal in that has been to offer you tools that you can use in stepping out front in making your own decisions, transition embracing and otherwise, that would give you the widest range of options that might be good for you to chose from, and the most opportunity to achieve the best from them.

I chose the title “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” for this series with that point in mind and with “change and move”, or “not and remain where you are” transition decisions in mind. And to clarify a very important point there, a genuine “or not and remain where you are” decision option is often not actually going to be available and certainly when the pressure to make a transition decision is high. Then this in fact actually tends to become a your-choice or a default, not of your choice or design decision. There are exceptions there as for example if your choice is to stay in a primarily hands-on work and career path position where you thrive and find real happiness, or move into management – where you would have to set a lot of your direct hands-on work experience aside. But it is important to always be aware of where you would have the most deciding power in shaping your own work life and career path, and in terms that meet your needs and desires. Awareness and planning are everything here, and certainly over any long-term.

Note: I just added a new transition point decision scenario to this series with the hands-on or management decision. I have noted it and variations on it in passing here, but I have not really examined it in any depth. That new scenario selection was intentional here; I actively acknowledge that for all of its length, I have only addressed a selection of just a few of the more commonly encountered range of topics and issues that I could have looked into here that can lead to significant career transitions. One of my goals for this posting is to prompt you to think more widely about the range and types of issues that I could have been addressing here, than just the scope of those issues themselves that I have written about. What can and should you really see and consider and not just look past, and what can and should you know and really understand for its implications, if you are to make the best choices for yourself and in a larger context for your family too, and when facing essentially any workplace or career context that is likely to lead to change – or at least a significant potential for a need for it? And what can you be doing now that would help you identify and navigate change in the contexts that you find yourself living and working in, potential transition point contexts included?

I find myself thinking back to my own work life and career path as I write this posting, and to a point in time that in retrospect marked my moving from a significantly hands-on professional work life to an essentially entirely managerial and leadership one. I loved what I was doing leading up to that transition, and there was a measure of overlap in moving from the one to the other so I was not facing the equivalent of falling off of a cliff there. And I really enjoyed what I came to do next too and what I had already been doing at an increasingly significant part of my overall work. But even going through this prepared, and with my eyes open, I still felt a measure of dislocation and even loss when one day I suddenly realized that a door I had always seen as being there and at least somewhat open, was in effect entirely gone now.

• Transitions are not always going to seem completely unambiguously positive, and they cannot always be expected to be easy, and emotionally and in terms of your self-identity if nothing else,
• And even when they are the best choices for you objectively,
• And even when they are by far the best that might be available for how they are planned for and carried out, and for both you and your family.
• Gaining new forms of good can and often does mean losing at least a measure good too, and even comfortingly familiar good.

That observation, and the thread of reasoning that underlies it runs through essentially all of the detail-varying scenes and scenarios that I have been addressing in all of this series too.

I am going to end this series with this installment, and will continue my main sequence postings and series in this Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development from here, with a next series that is also career development oriented. I have for the most part treated the career planning process per se in this series, as if a black box problem, where context and needs inputs go in one end and decision point considerations come out of the other – and with any more explicitly operational and strategic activities that develop those outputs from those inputs remaining hidden and unexamined. My goal for my next-coming series in this Guide, is to invert that perspective and with a focus on discussing and analyzing what is going in inside that box.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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