In theory . . .

Does your career journey seem a bit random at times? Do you have a hard time identifying what you like about the work you’re doing, what you don’t, and why? Are you puzzled about what seems to be working and what’s not? Or grappling with how to move forward in an increasingly unpredictable workplace?

Have you considered spending an hour or two with a career counsellor who can bring a big picture perspective to your career-related concerns? This perspective comes from having a theoretical understanding of what’s likely going on – and how to navigate the roadblocks.

Yesterday I was driving on the local freeway when traffic ground to a halt. Although the navigation system in my car had pre-selected the most logical route, an unanticipated “event” (I’m still not sure what it was!) impacted the smooth flow of traffic and created serious delays. Although I really appreciate my navigation system and find it useful most of the time, it’s also very helpful for me to have a big picture perspective of the area in which I typically drive so that I can over-ride the system and pursue alternative routes.

When I first pulled off the freeway, my navigation system gently suggested that I make a u-turn as soon as it was safe and get right back on. Given no movement at all in traffic, that didn’t seem like a good plan at the time. Instead, I took back roads until I was able to pick up an alternate, freely flowing route. This worked because I had a solid understanding of the area in which I was driving. Non-local drivers didn’t have the same theoretical perspective – they stayed stuck in traffic.

Similarly, our careers sometimes hit roadblocks or unexpected events that require a shift in plans. Some of them are relatively easy to navigate on our own – there may be clear indications of how to effectively handle career detours, setbacks, or exciting new opportunities.

However, quite often such unexpected occurrences are more challenging to navigate – and costs may be high if we guess wrong. It’s at times like these that you might want to reach out to a career specialist for a big picture perspective of what might be happening, why, and how to get unstuck or back on track.

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