We’ve all heard the proverbial excuse statement by the student who’s not ready. “The dog ate my homework.” We probably know a child who has uttered a series of reasons not to take a nap. The person who rationalizes not getting to a decluttering project, taxes, and yes, finding better work, defined simply as work that you think will make you happier (for whatever reason).
Employed folks want to transition for a myriad of reasons. And yet, they are often stuck. Many of my clients come to me to help them get unstuck. Part of the process sometimes is to break down the excuses for inertia on their part. Here are just a few of the “why-I-cannot reasons” I’ve heard over the years. And my responses.
- I Can’t Excuse #1: I can’t do anything else. I don’t have other skills. I feel lucky to have my present job, even though I don’t really like it. I’m afraid of losing it. I might not be that lucky again. Barb: Transferable skills! Dig into your career stories for where you did similar things. Where else could you use them? Have you looked at low-cost training to sharpen or add new skills for new work?
- I Can’t Excuse #2: I hate rejection. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I’ll be turned away. Why walk into a closed door? I already lack confidence! Barb: In job search, YOU are doing the choosing; not the other way around. Take back your power! Connect with folks; gather information; let the rest take its course. And ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?” So, you hear “no”. Okay. On to the next one. There’s a yes in there.
- I Can’t Excuse #3: I’m too old for change. I don’t have the fire or energy to tackle today’s search. And it’s awkward to say I’m not happy at work at this stage. Barb: One is never too old for new challenges. Changing work is not the declaration of an offender, but the spirit of an adventurer who has something wonderful to offer, and wants to contribute where there’s a need.
- I Can’t Excuse #4: The other might be worse. I’m miserable at work, but at least I know what to expect. It’s secure. What if I jump into something even more draining? In a headstrong way, I’m comfortable. Barb: Give yourself permission to create a passport, explore the other side of the grass. What’s out there? What are folks doing? If you don’t like what you see, stay “home”. Risk is part of the deal. But it is inevitably the “never trieds” we regret at the end.
- I Can’t Excuse #5: It’s not that bad. My job is tolerable. I don’t look forward to Mondays, but I can stand it. Others have it worse. Why shouldn’t I bear some pain too? Barb: When will it hurt enough? When your family and friends talk about the calm, nice and likeable person you used to be? Do you have to settle? If not, why are you?
- I Can’t Excuse #6: I don’t want to rock the boat. My life is predictable and comfortable, even if not exciting. I don’t want to change my family’s routine. Certainly not a move or change to their security. Barb: Sometimes the emotional health of you and your family may be more important than a financial adjustment, move to a new place or change in schedules. Ask those you care about. They may have been waiting for a signal. They may be much more supportive than you imagined.
Career transition can be very therapeutic, a wonderful exercise in introspection peppered heavily with detective work and exploration. Whether your search brings you back to where you are or takes you to new opportunities, well, enjoy the journey of I can. No excuses needed.
Photo: anna gutermuth