The most important exercise I do with the clients I coach on career issues is simply this: Create a career plan B.
It’s a straightforward idea, but pays huge dividends in what you learn about yourself.
Ask yourself this question: If I were to lose my job tomorrow, which other paths would I pursue? Perhaps:
- Look for a job very similar to what I now have.
- Go back to school.
- Focus on bringing my skills up-to-date as rapidly as possible.
- Use part of my current skills, but apply them in a different kind of job.
- Start that company I’ve been dreaming about.
- Get back into that career I used to have but left by the wayside some years ago.
As you can see, the shock of job loss has the potential to open up a wide range of creative options that might not have been obvious.
“But,” you say, “I don’t have the money to do those things!” Fine. After all, this is just an exercise in your mind right now, so it’s possible to relax a little. But this is the neat part: If you have a job at the moment, what can you do to lay the groundwork for the alternate path? It may be this simple:
- Take a class at the local college.
- Develop your personal network so you’re interacting with people in a different industry.
- Start writing down your business plan and discuss it with a trusted friend, and see where it goes.
- Do projects (inside your job or outside) which will help hone your technical skills.
That’s a lot less scary, isn’t it? You’re not taking the big leap into the unknown anymore; you’re just dipping a toe in the water.
And, who knows, maybe you’ll be ready to take your next leap before you get laid off from your job. On your own schedule.
Wouldn’t that be better?
by Carl Dierschow