Many of us look at a career path as a straight line from here to where we want to be. If we check off all the boxes, put one foot in front of the other, and keep our heads down, we will get there. Then suddenly, a new opportunity appears that doesn’t fit the path, and we are thrown for a loop. How do we balance our career choices between what we think we want with the actual opportunities that present themselves?
Choices of any kind often throw us off balance, as we try to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Too often we get caught up in trying to decide what is “right” in absolute terms, which consumes lots of our energy and thoughts and can distract us from the unique opportunities that each option offers.
Instead, borrow some balancing skills from dancers! Yes, dancers understand that even appearing to stand still requires constant adjustments, experimentation, and adaptation. When faced with career choices, instead of getting caught up in the pros and cons, consider starting from a new perspective—your core. Your core is all of your skills, talents, and abilities. Looking at career choices from this perspective allows you to evaluate them based on how the opportunity complements or challenges your best assets. You can stop focusing on the minutiae and make the decisions that best reflect your strengths and goals.
- Strengthen your core. As you weigh different career choices, look for opportunities that offer you new tools, skills, and experiences you can use to be successful now and in the future.
- Find a focal point. Think about how to build upon your individual identity across different career experiences: what makes you valuable and different? Is it your skills, your experiences, or how you get things done? Reach for opportunities that let you use your best strengths.
- Test yourself. Stretch yourself past your comfort zone. Take on new opportunities that seem outside your usual parameters, and create new ways of being successful to broaden your career value.