It is human nature for all of us to crave stability and continuity in our lives. We like to know what might be coming so that we can tackle it with ease and move on to the next challenge or opportunity. I know first-hand that it is very easy to get comfortable in your career, especially when all is going well. There is one school of thought that would tell us this could be a big mistake. Gone are the days when someone might spend decades—perhaps even an entire career—at a single company. Many successful people have multiple careers and even multiple professions in their lifetime. I am 21 years into my second career and having a blast.
What we also know, having seen things ebb and flow through difficult economic times, is that no job is 100% safe and no one will attend to your career interests better than you. Every professional should see themselves as the CEO of their own company; you have to make decisions that are in your best interest and the best interest of your career. Challenges are going to come. The best and most successful leaders in business reinvent themselves at least once a decade, sometimes more often.
Even when you are wholly content in your job, it is essential to continually evaluate yourself and the direction your career is going, both short- and long-term. That self-review could be quarterly or annually and allows you to keep assessing your goals. I often see that people lack what I like to call a “Plan B.” Continue to build your network in a genuine, long-term manner; work to update your skills, and spend time volunteering. All of these activities help you build new muscles while using the ones you have! Do whatever you need to do so that you do not become complacent.
I have personally seen that jobs can change fast. Technology is perhaps the greatest game changer. Too many people keep their head down and focus on the work in front of them and, in the process, fall behind their peers. Pay attention to the competitive landscape. If the ship is sailing and you missed the boat, it’s going to be hard to catch up. Surrounding yourself with great talent will also make a big difference. At the executive level, make sure you’re hiring ridiculously smart people who bring in new skills from which you can learn. I do that in my firm absolutely.
As I tell myself each and every day, change is good and I should embrace it abundantly.