- If you used to have a heavy position, big salary and corner office and get laid off, you will judge your career prospects by how great things used to be.
- If your first book was a best-seller and your second one flopped, you will be wistful about the “good old days” and resentful of the failure of your second book.
- If you used to run a thriving business on the side of your day job, but now you have kids and find you cannot get anything done, you will long for the old, productive days.
- If you used to be the Big Person on Campus who everyone wanted to date, but now that you are divorced, you can’t get anyone to look at you sideways, you will yearn for your younger, suaver, sexier self.
- Focus on the person you are now, and set your goals accordingly.
Assess the resources, time and energy you have available to you today. What are clear, realistic goals you can set for yourself that will be challenging without being overwhelming? What are the strengths you have gained in your years of experience that you can use in new and interesting ways.
What would a healthy, active, rested, 47-year old engaged mother look like? Probably not the same as a 25-year old with few responsibilities besides working out.
- Retrace the pattern of how you got successful in the first place.
When I had rock-hard abs and glutes so strong they could crush walnuts, I trained at least 10 classes a week. I did thousands of sit ups and push ups per week. So if I want to get in shape again, I know that I need to carve out serious time to train. I work best in group classes with a team spirit, so I will likely never get back in shape if I rely on getting myself to the gym for a solitary workout (which is why I am going to start taking Brazilian Jiujitsu classes, in addition to yoga). If you were extremely successful early in your career and find yourself looking for a job now, remember the qualities that made you great. Were you a hard worker? A problem solver? Did you have a great boss who brought out your best qualities, or stellar peers?
Lean on the creative practices and patterns that created your success in the past. They will help shape your future success.
- Focus on the body of work you want to create, and whom you care about serving.
What great things do you want to bring into the world? Whom do you really want to help? Your career success is directly linked to how well you can serve the needs of others.
You are more likely to get a great job, or great new clients, if you put your energy into finding out the very specific concerns of potential employers or customers. Don’t worry about how great things used to be, focus on the people you can help and problems you can solve today.