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Take control...then let go! The 5 Minute Career Coach January 2011 Update
January 15, 2011

Helping Career Changers Around The World

January 2011 Update


Take control of your career...then let go again!

One of my recent Career Change Tip tweets was 'take control of your career – get into the driving seat' and I think this notion of taking charge of the way your career is unfolding is a key issue for many would be career changers.

Too little control

There are many people who stay stuck in jobs that make them unhappy because they don't feel they can do anything themselves to change things. It seems as if other people, other circumstances outside of them are the main influence on their careers and all they can do is sit passively and wait for something to happen.

This could mean they are a long time waiting!

If you want something to change in your life, whether it is to do with your career or anything else, then it is down to you to set the ball rolling. You need to be the catalyst for change, you must get into the driving seat of your life, rather than let yourself be driven (to the wrong destination).

Too much control

But there are other career changers who want too much control and this can be just as limiting on their ability to change.

These are the people who want everything sorted out to the last detail before they take the plunge. The ones who want to be absolutely sure that they have made the right choice, that this new career direction will be perfect and that everything will turn out alright.

To stick with the driving analogy, this means you are happy to get in the car, but you won't go anywhere because...well, you might not like it, it might rain, you might get lost on the way and you are not totally sure whether you want to go to London or Paris anyway.

So, like the other group already mentioned, you end up going nowhere.

But do you really want to be stuck in a Groundhog Day career with no prospect of anything different on the horizon?

So how much control do you need?

The key issue is to be aware of what you can control and what you can't. You can control your own actions, thoughts and feelings. They happen inside you and you are in a position to monitor what is going on and then do more of what works and less of what doesn't. Your life and career is an ongoing experiment where you test things out and learn from the results. If you stop testing, you stop learning.

What is outside of you is much more difficult, if not impossible to control. So don't expect to control it! Letting go of the notion that people or things 'should' be a certain way can be very liberating. It allows you to be open and curious about new ideas and experiences, rather than disgruntled because you got something different from what you were expecting.

This means that your sense of control will vary from moment to moment and what matters is that you get comfortable with that fact.

So for a career changer, the message is get into the driving seat, head off in the direction you want to go without waiting for someone else to give you permission or for all the details of your journey to be planned. But then enjoy the surprises of the journey along the way, the people you meet when your car breaks down, the interesting little towns you stop over in as you travel. You may even end up staying for a while! You may have set out for London, but think what fun it would be if you find yourself in Paris instead!

With best wishes

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