Career Mistakes: Are They Really Mistakes?

 

When considering a career move, people often find themselves paralyzed, worrying about making a mistake, causing career-suicide.  Most of us have probably made some choices that may not have worked out the way we intended.  However, looking back, much of what we learn through our mistakes actually may be excellent learning experiences that help us with our next job. 

In Ross Hamilton’s 1951 book For Humans Only, he wrote the following line:  We extract from life just what we give it . . . so with each mistake replace the divot.  You don’t have to be a golfer to grasp his point.  If we make mistakes in our life, we need to make amends and move forward.  In case you hadn’t guessed, this line came from my father.  He felt that we shouldn’t dwell too much on past mistakes. 

You can’t change decisions you’ve made previously but you can do your best to take what you have learned and grow from those experiences.  Even if you have a job that doesn’t last very long, you might make some excellent contacts that could help you with the next position.  Those contacts may open doors that you may not have even considered. 

If you over-analyze every decision you’ve ever made, you’ll drive yourself crazy.  It may be best to look at disappointing career choices as learning experiences and realize that they may very well lead to something better down the road.  Lamenting over the past or over things which you have no control, is a time waster.

Instead, look forward to the choices you have now.  It can be helpful to write down the foreseeable pros and cons of any choice.  This will help you visualize opportunities and threats associated with each alternative.

If you feel trapped in a career that you chose when you were young, it may be time to change.  Perhaps the degree you were interested in when you were in your 20s no longer fits with your passion.  You may need to consider going back to school to update your skills.  It’s OK to admit that your interests have changed.  

With the new year around the corner, many people are thinking about making a fresh start with their careers and their lives.  What can you do differently to make this year better than last year?  To truly be successful, having goals is important.  I often recommend that people do a personal SWOT analysis to help them realize what they have to offer and what they need to work on.  If you have never look at your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, I suggest doing so as part of your plan to improve your new year.  To find out more about a personal SWOT, click here.

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