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Any Career Change or Shift Comes With a Risk.

Here is the Story

I know this is a story where the consequences are not really huge, but I tell it to illustrate my career point.

We live in a rural town with a small grocery store. It is great for the basics, but due to either lack of product availability or poor pricing, we often go to the next community 15 minutes away with a larger franchised store to meet our need. The route we take to get there has two options; the main way and the back way. I prefer the back way but it has a railway crossing on a very busy line. The main way has an overpass over the tracks.

You can probably figure out where I'm going with this. Every time I take my preferred route, I run the risk of being delayed by a passing train, usually very long. When time is a factor, I always take the main road. When it's not, I take the back way and play a game I refer to as the ‘Risk Zone’. Will I be stopped at the crossing (Featured Image above is an actual pic of the crossing), or not? Honestly, I've never been delayed over the last year but I have looked down the track and seen the train's bright headlights within a mile of the crossing. That day,  I Won the Challenge!!!

A Lesson on Risk and Career

Now, I realize that your career is more than a game or internal competition. The risk and cost of altering your career in any way can be very high...and so can the rewards. But when you are having career issues, you basically have two options. You could  make a major/minor career change, OR stay working where you are. But the fact is, whether leaving/changing OR staying, both come with risks. Either way, you could say it's a game to be won or lost.

  • It may seem that staying on the main road, that is, staying where your are, is the safe way.
  • It may also seem that making a change in some way is like taking the back road and therefore risky.

But that just isn't the case. As mentioned, they are both risky. The common denominator is the fact you have an unresolved work related issue. And so long as there is an issue, there is uncertainty. And so long is their is uncertainty, there is risk.

If you find yourself at a career crossroad, staying or changing carry the same degree of risk.

They would both be compared to taking the back way because they both come with uncertainty. Staying at a job or career that has issues carries the same degree of risk as leaving for something different. What's the phrase, “A devil if you do, a devil if you don't ‘!

So what can you do?

A New Career Mindset is Needed Here

Let's bring in an important concept know as Risk Management. Risk has to be processed through two filters.

  • The Personal Filter, and
  • The Practical Filter

Each is a Mindset and one of these will be more natural to you than the other.

Career Mindset #1

The Personal Filter is what I refer to as Subjective. The situation has to be assessed by internal factors governed by how you are "hard wired" based on your personality. Typically there are four main filters:

  • Putting my trust in a relationship with the person guiding me through the process. It is Person focused.
  • Processing a thorough analysis & organization of my intuitively perceived reality. It is Information focused.
  • Maintaining a willingness to throw caution to the wind and proceed regardless of the outcome. It is Action focused.
  • Digging in my heels with an absolute unwillingness to change what now is, because I'm safe and secure. It is Structure focused.

Yes, there is a degree of latitude within each of these four, and, though you will probably default to one, it will work hand in hand with your second preference. They may even oscillate.

Career Mindset #2

The Practical Filter is what I refer to as Objective. It doesn't go inside to interpret. It looks at the external world around them. It sees the circumstance for what it is. Control of the situation goes down two paths:

  1. I will focus on more of what is happening and less of what I can do about it. I will accept where the cards land when they fall rather than trying to interpret it. I will figure out what the next steps are.
  2. I will seek out advice and guidance to help me understand what is happening. This in turn will help me make sense of the options so I can have choices and consider the risks

So How Will You Manage Your Career Risk?

Whether choosing the personal or practical mindset in your career matters, the preferred path will be applied using a very serious, conscious consideration. But why not?

Next to marriage, family and self maintenance, in terms of time and impact, your career, is the biggest single decision you will ever make. It is how you pay for life. It is often how you maintain your sense of self worth. 

That makes it easy to deliberately choose the main road because the train delay cannot be risked. But always remember, if you have a career issue, nothing is safe, there is no main road, the situation comes with risk. The apple cart carrying many key areas of life is upset. And most of you that have experienced career challenges know that what I just said is true.

For some, it will be approached like a game to be won or lost. Due to an energy driven motivation to win, you too will enter the "Risk Zone", like when I chose the road that crossed the tracks risking a delay if a train came. The energy that surges when risk is involved can be addictive. The fact is, that whether you like it or not, when you have a career issue, you are forced into this path. If this has become your path and you do not like the choice, it will not motivate you, the game will not be fun and it will drain you.

But that is a topic for another day!.

The bigger question right now is, "Which Risk Management path will you choose?" You really can't escape it.


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