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One of the most common things I hear in my office is “My next step in my career has to be RIGHT, I have made too many wrong moves up to this point”.
I always cringe when I hear this statement. One because it puts A LOT of pressure on the next step (which usually results in a bit of paralysis). Two it discounts everything the client has done in the past that got them where they are today.
Our past makes up who we are today. All the memories, actions, decisions, regrets, thoughts, ideas, training, degrees and jobs combine to make us complete full human beings. We get so caught up in doing it ‘right’ making the ‘right move’ we forget that life is a process and so is our career. There are thousands of reasons we make the choices we do:
Maybe you chose your major in college because your dad thought it would be sensible.
Maybe you took your first job just because it paid well, or it was the first company that offered you a job. Maybe you fell into your current job and now 10+ years later you realize you don’t really like it.
Maybe you thought with all your heart you wanted to be a teacher and now you realize that teaching isn’t what you thought it would be.
We all make choices, some are made for us, some are logical, some make sense at the time and some are random and emotional. The key is to look at each and every one and ask yourself why those decisions made sense at the time and what you have learned from living them.
Maybe sensible to your dad is boring to you and now you know the difference.
Maybe being paid well isn’t as freeing as you thought it would be and now you want to do a job you love.
Maybe in 10+ years you didn’t move up as much as you thought you would.
Maybe you can find something that allows you to teach just not in the school system.
When a client utters this sentence I encourage them to litany all the ‘bad’ decisions they have made and explain A. why they are bad decisions and B. where they would be or who they would be if they hadn’t made them. Inevitably they realize usually through a bit of laughter, that there decisions although might appear ‘bad’ now, made sense for who they were at the time. Most importantly they realize how much they have grown and learned from the decisions of their past.
Our path maybe messy, winding, backwards and full of detours but every decision, memory, feeling and doubt, we experienced makes us who we are today. Those experiences make us the rich, vibrant human beings we are supposed to be. When we ‘get it wrong’ that really just means we tried something new–we took a risk. Isn’t that what life is about–taking risks? They key is to learn from our past experiences (the mistakes and the victories) so that the risks become more and more measured, and calculated.