Last week, I had my 19 year anniversary working for a Fortune 50 company. Nineteen YEARS!!! I can’t believe it. I’m 41 and when I started in 1992 I never expected to stay as long as I have – by luck or by choice. It just turned out that way. And with all the uncertainty at work, chaos in the economy and unpredictability of life, I have no way of truly knowing if I will be at this company for another few years.
But I think it might be time for me to do something different.
As I think about the possible paths I can take, the uncertainty and unpredictability of the economy and trying to figure out a career stresses me out. I get anxiety just thinking about it. You can’t count on anything anymore, much less “plan” a career. With so much career uncertainty, what always helps me think clearly is a conversation with a friend. So I sat with my friend Ben to catchup at a coffee shop outside Grand Central Station in New York City.
I told him that I was thinking of a number of career paths. All of which SEEM no better than the one of sitting still. Path 1 has these advantages but it doesn’t pay as well and who knows what will happen after the first year. Path 2 seems pretty good but will I really be satisfied? Path 3 is a big risk with a payoff years away…maybe. Path 4 is a radical shift and will require me to make a lot of sacrifices and should I be risking so much during a tough and an unpredictable economy when I have a mortgage to pay and a family to feed?
Did you ever feel like all the paths in front of you are all bad?
Speaking to Ben made me feel better. He told me of his experience with this start up business he and his business partner operate. They started a small company a few years ago and recently approached a potential big customer. Being skeptical at their business, this big customer asked them what they’ve accomplished to date. Slightly unsure, they scrambled to pull together a presentation that reflected their achievements since starting the business.
When they finished the presentation, they were pleasantly surprised because they had actually accomplished a lot…significantly more than they thought. They hadn’t realized how much they actually achieved until they looked back and wrote it down.
What I learned from speaking with Ben is that you can only connect the dots in your life looking back. That when you take a good hard look back at all the points in your life, all the choices you made, all the paths you took—it all makes perfect sense. And it usually works out! But when you’re the midst of all the chaos of life or deciding which path to go to next, you are unsure where it will lead you.
What I realize is that We have always lived in chaos and have been embracing it all along! It only appears orderly or connected when you look back.
I met my wife by chance. I live where I live through random coincidence. I met my friends amidst chaos. I work where I work by a stroke of luck. Half way in my career, I was given what I thought was the worst job ever. Years later, it was the best thing that ever happened to me! So much of my life has brought me to my present moment by chaos, luck, chance and randomness. No path I took back then had a guaranteed outcome of success. No path was really all that secure. Or perfect.
I believe that as I think about taking the next step in my career and my life, I don’t need to over-analyze the possible consequences. Instead, what I need to do is to balance my overly logical, hyperactive mind with my intuitive mind and choose a path based as much on my gut, instinct, passion, personal interest and core beliefs.
I have realized that if I am to feel less stress and anxiety about career uncertainty, I need to accept that chaos and unpredictable events will lie on every path. No matter which road I take, it will be full of bumps, shocks and maybe even LUCK!
And just maybe taking one of those paths will put me into what I call the “Sweet Spot” of Luck, Randomness and Chance! You have to be in it to win it!!!
And maybe the guy who everyone says is ‘lucky’ will be me? Maybe the person everyone thinks has got a ‘golden chance’ might just be me. Why not? In a world full of chaos and unpredictability, anything is possible – bad and good. But why not good? Why not awesome things? Why not success? Chaos favors those who embrace it!
So, on the road full of chaos it does not matter which path I choose because there is no sure outcome of any path. All the dots will connect and everything WILL make sense in the end. What really matters most is that I stop staring at the lists of pros and cons and start walking!
Rule#1: Expect and Accept Chaos | Embrace the Chaos! | Bob Miglani