As technology increasingly shapes business, our skills need sharpening, our job descriptions shift, and what it takes to succeed morphs as quickly as our social media feeds.
In the scramble to keep up with ever-changing demands, it seems that professionals in every sector have forgotten why they chose their career paths in the first place. Passions get lost in the whirlwind of maintenance and heightened disconnection.
I hear the same conversations unfold in offices, living rooms, and around backyard barbecues.
The bulk of business life feels like a perpetual hustle revolving around increasingly fabricated, unstable structures that kill genuine productivity.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
To dismantle such structures, we must admit that we contribute to the problem. We must admit that allowing our personal visions to grow stagnant contributes to the creation of hectic, unfulfilling work environments.
We must admit that we outgrow things. We evolve. Our dreams, ideas, and perceptions shift as our experiences present us with new paths.
Endings morph into beginnings, and if we don’t continually adjust our methods, we find ourselves adjusting to circumstances we no longer desire.
We run after the stale carrot of our past when what we really want is the pizza of our present.
Simplified food analogies aside, we don’t want to spend our lives chasing things we only kind of, sort of, maybe want.
We want to be able to say YES to our careers every day.
It seems so many feel it necessary to keep hammering away at decisions they made at the start of their careers. That's fine for some, but if you're miserable, it's time to admit that's not working for you.
We're told holding onto old goals is success.
We're told such things reflect stability.
That's an illusion we need to release.
We are not bound to constructs that no longer exist.
It can be hard to release old paradigms, but if your job feels like a grind, it’s time to shake things up.
I found myself in this position a few years ago. I knew I not only needed an industry shift, but a life focus overhaul. Through trial, error, crash, burn, risk, reward, and lots of incredible talks with awesome people in between, I found light in the tunnel of change.
Don't keep chasing old, stale carrots. Life shifts can be difficult, but the world brightens when fulfilled individuals contribute to it. Make the world a brighter place. Make your life a brighter place. Hop off the metaphorical stale carrot treadmill and sit down with a plate of proverbial pizza.
Here are some practical tips to grab a career slice of what you truly desire.
Be truthful with yourself. Are you in your career because your mother, father, spouse, or society favors it? Are you crunching numbers when you’d rather slap paint? For all we know for sure, we only have one life. Why live it lying to yourself or anyone else about what you do or do not want to do? Get real. Stop telling yourself you’re happy if you’re miserable.
ASSESS YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES
It’s all well and good for someone to tell you to hop off the stale carrot train, but if you have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed, it’s a giant risk to shift into a space of instability. Take a look at your financial situation, who depends on you, and the legitimate amount of pressure you’re capable of handling. This will determine how you get off the treadmill. There’s a drastic difference between being single with a lust to overcome adversity and having to support a family in a stable fashion. Realistically evaluating your responsibilities will determine if you dedicate 5 or 80 hours a week to knocking that carrot off the string.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Take some serious time to think about what you want. You didn’t end up chasing a dull carrot by giving every aspect of your life adequate thought. Many people are subconsciously terrified of change or are merely chasing dollar signs without considering genuine interest. We’re sold the ideas that security is paramount and safe decisions equal security. I think everyone can collectively admit that the current business landscape is an animal no one can completely predict. Security is about perception. You want to fulfill your responsibilities, but don’t cut off your desires. Look at your desires. Ask yourself why you want such things. How does pursuing different paths make you feel? What areas of your life do your desires fulfill? Is embodying your interests truly possible? Deeply think about how your life can function in the different scenarios that encompass the changes you wish. Boil down your contemplations to one focused goal.
BUILD ON WHAT YOU HAVE
You didn’t get this far with nothing. While you were on the stale carrot treadmill, you picked up a lot of skills, insight, and experience. Look at what you have and then look at what you want. See what transfers beyond the obvious. This isn’t merely about software knowledge or resume keyword buzz jargon. This is about genuinely transferable human skill. Do you sell in your current job? Are you a project manager? Did you have supervisory experience? Though the world appears fairly compartmentalized, many organizations operate similarly. What may appear to be industry-specific experience can be geared toward new roles in different fields.
Whether you devote every waking second or a handful of hours to getting that slice of pizza, you must commit to doing it regularly. Everyone has different life responsibilities, but to make a shift, you have to keep your eye on the ball. It’s easy to conceptualize making a drastic move, but when it comes down to doing the work, it can be overwhelming. Change is not for the faint of heart. Curling up in your old office chair and determining to make changes tomorrow is much easier than putting in the effort today. It will take time. Some things happen quickly. Some things take years. Yes, years. There may be additional education involved. There may be relocation involved. Stay focused and vigilant about assessing your choices. Adjust them. Realign as you learn, but remain committed to matching your external world with your internal desires.
GET COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE
Growth isn't easy. We often witness the end results of incredible growth, but we rarely see true light blasted on the blood, sweat, and tears that accompany grand leaps of awesome. If growth felt pleasant, the world would be populated with healthy, happy people. There is comfort in familiarity. The stale carrot treadmill is familiar. We look around and many of our friends wave from their treadmills as they grasp at their stale carrots. Entire films and books are written about such things. It’s the story we tell ourselves, and misery loves company. Growth, however, loves the uncomfortable. Spread your wings. It takes patience, perseverance, and time, but you can have your proverbial pizza. Know that with every uncomfortable experience you encounter, you're learning, expanding, and getting closer to a career that doesn't mirror stale cliches.
P.S. Real carrots and treadmills are good for you.
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