I’ve got a pair of sneakers that I can’t bear to throw out. They’ve got holes and they’re worn, but they are SO comfortable. Problem is… they’re not good for my feet and they’re subject to wearing out at any time.
Maybe you’ve got an old chair or even an old car you just can’t bear to part with. We’ve all been there.
All too often, some of us also get attached to old jobs that feel SO comfortable.
Jeff took a job as a bartender after he dropped out of school and couldn’t get a job. He made good tips and now he’s still doing the same job. He’s got a lot of outside interests – he’s also an artist – so he’s kind of let his day job go by.
Maria had been a corporate executive. When she moved to a new city for family reasons, she accepted a job as a teller in a small bank. She can’t move up and she can’t move out in the same town. She’s starting to get restless – and her boss seems to be wondering why she’s still there.
Martin started a business as a life coach. He wasn’t very successful. So he accepted an online job that fell into his lap, where he developed online training programs for a medium-sized company. The work was easy and fun.
Originally, Martin figured he’d use the money from this job to support his business with technology and assistants, but he soon got SO comfortable. His salary began to feel like an allowance or veterans benefit.
These examples are composites and they’re pretty extreme. But many of us fall into patterns that lead to career lethargy.
What’s the problem? Well, when you’re treading water at the local pool, you don’t develop skills in competitive ocean swimming. You get comfortable. And then you reach a point where you can’t make a comeback. Your energy – both physical and mental – operates on a different wavelength.
There’s almost always a way to change careers, but it’s easier to start as early as possible. You need different career muscles for career change than you do for career maintenance.
By way of analogy, if you haven’t worked out in five years, you probably need to start with a trainer. You need some powerful external motivation to start or else you need to find some way to get rewarded for your initial efforts.
If you just can’t summon up the energy to change, do something different, even something small. That’s often enough to trigger your energy to get started on a new career.
When I say small, I mean really small. Think of driving home a new way. Write in longhand when you usually use the computer. Read a book in a new field. Challenge yourself to take a class or course.
Old shoes take up a lot of space. Sometimes you need to get rid of them before they take over your closet – although of course it’s rarely a good idea to toss out the old irresponsibly. Who wants to go barefoot?