I'm a bit behind in my blog reading.
If you're a Seth Godin fan, this is old news. But I just couldn't pass it up as a point of illustration and commentary.
First you should devote the next 60 seconds to reading this post. Excerpting here just wouldn't do it justice - you need the whole thing. Go ahead, I'll wait...
OK, now what I think is the "take away" for those of us looking to find career happiness and feeling daunted about that for one reason or another, is the explanation of Point C and our reflection on what Point we are at in our lives right now. The graph isn't just for companies, you know.
Point C is the place that people are approaching when they call me up with their 17 reasons why they really want to change jobs and the 46 reasons why they can't.
Point C is where mid-career folks can hang out because they are ready to let go of Local Max (go read that excerpt if you haven't yet!) but haven't yet reached Point D and Big Max. There's just no escaping at least bits and pieces of Point C. Being at Point C can feel like boredom, insecurity, selling out, and plain ole failure.
All of this has caused me to reflect on when I've been at Point C in my life and what it took to get to Point D. I'm still wondering about Big Max and when I've been there. (I believe most of us go through this graph several times in our lives, in different contexts).
It's also crystal clear to me that I spend a lot of time with clients who are either dreading Point C, fearing the lack of continued financial and other kinds of security they depend on if they take a risk to try to get to Point D, or are right in the middle of Point C, flailing away.
Here are some quick thoughts if you are a stone's throw from Point C right now:
- Recognize where you are.
- Be OK with where you are. Many Americans believe that starting from preschool they should be able to plot their lives directly on an upwardly directed diagonal from left to right, with no deviations, where one axis represents age and other represents accomplishment. (I don't know how to insert fancy graphics into a blog post, but imagine your basic line going up to the right.) This is simply bunk. I believe our lives can be plotted on an upward moving spiral, but that's another post.
- Identify what Point D and Big Max are to you. What will be the glory of getting there? Only then can you decide what you're willing to tolerate in the journey. You won't tolerate much discomfort if you have no sense of eventual payoff.
- Consult both your gut and your head to map out the risks you're willing to take.
- Gather your resources to weather Point C. Who are your people? It's time to mobilize them. It might be a drippy enough day for your rainy day fund. Find your sources of strength and inspiration and stay connected to those.
- Commit to grit. It'll get you through.
Oh, and sometimes you are simply plunged into Point C without the benefit of deciding first. In which case, skip directly to "gather your resources to weather Point C."
You may be satisfied with being at Local Max in your career. But if you're drawn to the possibility of something bigger, consider your path through Point C, and buckle your seatbelt for the journey.