A colleague of mine recently said as we were discussing the traffic problems of late in Santa Monica, “Sometimes you’ve got to go in the wrong direction in order to move ahead.” Although never so true as you try to circumvent traffic and find a faster route to get home, it can mean needing the same approach with your career search or professional advancement as well. Finding that you always follow the same route in your job search or how you approach your career advancement opportunities might mean that you are not progressing any faster than you like.
It’s hard to imagine that by moving backwards you might actually be moving ahead. Counter-intuitive as this might seem, movement of any kind usually means you are progressing towards a goal. Stagnation in you career means sudden death under any circumstances. It’s nice to think you know which direction will lead to the fastest route with your career choices. It may not always be the case when you are for instance in career transition, or are a recent graduate or having trouble navigating the corporate ladder towards a promotion. It’s okay to take a lesser position if you’ve been out of work for sometime trying to get your foot back into a company or a particular field. Taking an internship for example might not be the worst thing as you wait for a job offer to come through for the position you really want. Trying to figure out your next career move when you are in a holding pattern at work because you’ve not been promoted might mean it’s time to try something new.
Having the ability to move backward in order to move forward helps you stay in the flow even if it takes you a little longer to get where you ultimately want to go. It’s always hard to know if you are doing all it takes to make progress in your career especially when you seem to be moving in the wrong direction. Remember there are no wrong directions or choices when it comes to making a decision about your career or your life. As long as you keep making decisions and focus on the possibilities of what you are after, you are naturally on the right road towards success.
Finding the right balance between what you want and what you are willing to make happen does not always mean the decision will be an easy one. It doesn’t matter how difficult it is for you to get where you are going, it just matters that you keep moving in any direction that seems to take you towards a clear path for getting ahead. You might be surprised what you find along the way but you never know the new and different opportunities you may have overlooked had you not taken that left turn in the road. Finding your true north doesn’t always mean you have to travel north, it just means you should follow your path of least resistance.
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