Monday, November 4, 2013

Opportunities Missed

It is easy to fall into the trap of negativity and complain how things are tough. Yeah, so it has gotten tougher, so what? You’re going to refuse to play anymore, you’ll take your ball and go home? Things are as tough as you choose to see or interpret the world around you. You can choose to listen primarily to those who morbidly thrive on bad news and seem content only when they see others suffering, or you can snap out of it and get yourself back on the right track, otherwise kindly stay away from me and take your cooties elsewhere. I’m not unrealistic, and I know of few individuals who are not somewhat concerned about the stability of their particular market sector, company, job and career. But we must all adapt to the changes happening around us and, hey, whoever said things stay the same. So why are we shocked when we encounter unanticipated change? Let’s dispense with the drama; we live during a period of increased challenges. When you watch the weather forecast or you look out the window, if the indication points to rain, you’re likely to carry an umbrella; you may need it or maybe not, but you have it with you at the ready – just in case.
On the other hand, most people manage their careers in a purely reactive manner. Clearly the economy isn’t running on all eight cylinders, it’s sputtering and clunking along, so why wait until a breakdown before conducting an overhaul and, yet, that’s what most people do and then    complain about their circumstance. If the job markets are changing, the effect is different depending on each individual’s situation. As such, it’s your responsibility to evaluate and prepare as best you can for whatever comes your way and not blame others if you fail to act in your own best interest. Regardless, most people will wait until disaster strikes before they actually do anything. 
But let’s keep this positive because the good news is that there are opportunities all around us all the time; I don’t care how you define the word, they’re there. The problem is that most people are open to opportunities only when it suits them and their timelines, however, in this manner they miss a lot. I’ll give you the most basic of examples; as a headhunter I speak with people every day about new opportunities. Many times I have a scenario in which I am conducting a search for a candidate on behalf of one of my clients. I will often speak to a potential candidate who is already working, is marginally interested but they might tell me, “yes, it is interesting and they are a good company, but it’s not the right time for me. I think I may be interested in looking for a new job, perhaps in another six months.” Fine, but as is often the case, timing is a factor they neglect to consider, so by the time they get around to it, guess what, the jobs that were available aren’t there any longer. But that’s how life is, isn’t it, when you’re not looking there’s stuff all around but when you’re ready, zip, zero, nada.
So, I’d like to make a suggestion based on tons of experience and direct exposure to just these kinds of situations – adapt your thinking to always having your ear to the ground, keen to identify and act upon new opportunities, however you choose to interpret the term. Don’t wait until you find yourself freaked out and panicking. If you’re in panic mode, you’ll hardly be at your best, so why do that to yourself if it is avoidable? Furthermore, the best time to look for a new job is when you don’t necessarily need one, for the very simple reason that you are more calm and confident.
I am not suggesting that you interview for everything you hear about but, over time, you’ll avail yourself of more choices. At the very least, always have a resume that is updated and ready to go; is your resume ready and updated? If not, what are you waiting for? Stop to reflexively dismiss opportunities without investing the few minutes to learn a bit more and, if something’s interesting, check it out. Don’t mess anyone around unnecessarily, but investigating an opportunity while being honest about your intent is not a bad reflection upon you. I would not share this mindset with your boss, besides, he or she might also be looking at potential new job possibilities, and why would they tell you either? Adopt this mindset from this moment forward and throughout the span of your working life and career, and then even if you get an unexpected gut punch, as a surprise layoff notice or some such thing, you’re already able to hit the streets.
Resist the tendency to focus only on what’s wrong out there; that’s the easy thing to do and if you’re focused the negative stuff, that’s all you’re going to see. But there are also good things out there, which you might not consider if you’ve got a closed mind. Are you open and receptive to any of it or do you just want to whine about how life is unfair, with self-imposed limits? It’s your own decision.
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