It was a long time ago and I don’t remember the book, but the message has stuck with me throughout my career. The dialogue was between two people that were managing a company that was miserably failing. In the course of counting their problems and complaining about the situation, one of the managers looked at the other and said “John, what do you think the people who come in here after us will do to turn this company around?”
Her partner learned back in his chair, thought for a moment, then confidently listed off a handful of actions he thought the future management should take to find success. His ideas were completely different from their current plan, and free of all the limitations the two managers were currently considering.
“I tell you what. Why don’t we walk out that door, then come back in and do exactly that? We can start right now.”
That’s exactly what they did, saving the company, saving their jobs, and saving the jobs of their trusted employees.
In the remaining weeks of 2018, I’m sure many of you will on some level take a mental inventory of what you did or didn’t accomplish over the last year. If you’ve planned wisely, you may even have a written set of goals to check. Whatever your situation, at some point you’ll confront the reality that you either are or aren’t working in the career you want. My hope is that right now you’re reading this and enjoying the warm feeling of fulfillment in the knowledge that you’ve fearlessly worked your plan. Sadly, many won’t have that experience.
If that’s the case, please allow me to make a suggestion. Ask yourself, “if I had the opportunity to change everything, what would I do?” Be honest. Put aside all those limitations you’ve set for yourself for one single moment and say out loud what you’d really rather do. Better yet, write it down. Walk out that door and come back with a completely new career plan.
Then, go do it.
I can hear the arguments now. It just doesn’t work that way. You have bills, responsibilities, and long-term investments in what you’re currently doing. You may have to go back to school, spend money on training, and take time away from your hobbies. It can’t be done.
Okay, I hear you, but another question. Do you wish you would have done it five or ten years ago? If so, will you wish you had the courage to do it now in another five or ten years?
Everyone must choose their road. Some will take the rocky road of choosing risk and putting in the work. Others will choose the rockier road of wishing they would have.
Whatever you do, don’t let fear choose your path for you.