By Jim Whitt
Chances are that today’s economy has you thinking about your future. We know many people who are hearing rumors in their companies of downsizing, restructuring or layoffs. In some cases, it is more than rumors. It’s reality. We know business owners who are dealing with these issues from a slightly different perspective. It doesn’t make any difference what side of the employment fence you find yourself, your future is getting ready to change.
The reaction of most people I know who are faced with the possibility of losing their jobs or business is fear. This is particularly intensified with employees who have long tenures in their companies. It’s not that they wouldn’t necessarily welcome a career change. In fact, studies show that two-thirds of people don’t like their jobs anyway. So, why do they stay? They may not like their jobs but they do like their paychecks and benefits. Many are just trying to make it to retirement. Consequently they settle for the security of their current position. When faced with the possibility of an involuntary career change, a sense of panic sets in. What am I going to do? The discovery that their sense of security was false has a sobering effect.
Every economic downturn results in people losing jobs and closing businesses. A surprising number of people find their dread was unfounded and they are liberated. People find new careers that they are better suited for and enjoy more. Some people who are laid off start their own businesses. These people will tell you that their layoff, downsizing, firing or whatever you want to call it was the best thing that happened to them.
It’s been said that people can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Let’s simplify it. You have a choice to make when it comes to change. You either make change happen or change happens to you.
Twenty-one years ago I decided to make things happen and laid myself off to launch my own business. My first attempt was a total failure. I lost a lot of money and sleep in the eighteen months that followed but finally got my career path straightened out. The bottom line is that I have been in a career that has been a perfect fit ever since.
Whenever I shared the story of how I successfully changed my career path with audiences, people would come up to me and asked how they could do what I did. Since the path I took was not one I had learned — it was a process of trial and error — I had to develop processes that others could follow. We have used those processes in workshops and one-on-one coaching to successfully guide many people on their career paths. If you are interested what our career path process looks like go to http://www.purposeunlimited.com/documents/PurposeUnlimitedCareerPathProcess081909.pdf.
During different times of my life I have made things happen, watched things happen and more than once, wondered what happened. You can watch things happen and wait for fate to take its course. Or you can chart a course for your fate. I can tell you from personal experience the best choice is to make things happen. Regardless of where you are in your career, you are the only person responsible for its path. Change is inevitable. Remember, you can either make change happen or change happens to you. It’s your choice.