Do any of these scenarios resonate for you?
You've been on a great career path for several years, but you've hit an advancement plateau.
You've been working in one industry since college, but you find yourself thinking about doing something else.
Your company has gone through a merger, and you feel like there's a "downsize" target on your back.
Seeing yourself in any of the above situations means you're contemplating change – on your terms, or on terms handed to you with a severance package. Current conventional wisdom is that each of us will have three to five careers AND between 10 to 12 jobs in our lifetimes, so fasten your seatbelt. Change is inevitable.
Change is the only constant in our lives. Our bodies change as we grow and age, our lives change as we travel on our career and domestic paths. Human nature resists change – the child in all of us wants our world to stay the same, to maintain the familiar comfort of predictability – but a more empowering response is to see change as an opportunity, to embrace change as a growth medium.
Change and risk are in many ways conspiratorial – during change, the final result is not visible. You're flying blind. Think of Stevie Wonder at the helm of a 747 and you'll get a gut feeling for what "flying blind" really means!
So, here you are, knowing that change is inevitable but frightened because you can not see where you're going. The key here is to immerse yourself in the challenge – if you're busy strategizing, you will not be focusing on your fear.
First, decide what you really want. If change is inevitable, why not ask for what you want? I'm not asking you to "think outside the box", I'm telling you to throw the box out the window and build a new box.
If you know you're management, VP or partner material, but you've hit a ceiling in your current position, research the firms in your industry that would welcome your skill-set and experience and network your way in the door.
If you want to go back to school to get a degree that will give you the credentials to land your "dream job", put your project-planning skills to work and turn achieving that goal into your # 1 project – and see if your company has a tuition-assistance plan.
If you find yourself with a merger or downsize bulls-eye on your job description, put your network to work to identify opportunities at other companies that would welcome your skills and experience.
The key here is to focus on positive outcomes – do not let fear immobilize you. Concentrate on what you want , not what you fear .
Life is short, so it should be sweet. Do not be afraid of change – turn those forks in the road into adventure challenges and manifest your own destiny.