By Ryan Li
A common scenario we all face, whether we are an entrepreneur, director, manager, or employee, is that after all the hard work we have done we finally manage to tackle the major challenges that we were facing with a great finish. What a sign of success! This feeling of success may just be a single “MOMENT” but when you get it, it means that it is time to pack up, and move on.
Two decades back, there was a bestseller, ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’, using a story to let us understand that the best way to face changes is to move proactively, before being moved passively in a time of stability.
This leads to today’s topic: career development is a process of continuously dealing with changes and avoiding stability.
To be more specific, career development is a cycle that consists of the following stages:
1. Looking for stability
For most of us, we start this cycle (our career) from this stage after graduation; the stage of looking for ‘stability’ is looking for a job. We seek a career consultant’s advice, and attend job-ready workshops, programs, and job fairs just to solve a realistic problem – we need a job not only because we want to pursue a career, but also because we are now independent adults responsible for ourselves. Yes, we need this ‘stability’.
2. Being stabilised
Once you have secured a job, there are quite a few things to do to feel ‘stabilised’:
- Blend into the new environment: You are newbies, everything is so different than uni or previous workplaces, there are so many things you have never had the chance to try out or learn. New colleagues are friendly, but they are just so busy taking care of their own business, that they can’t take care of you as well!
- Deal with endless challenges: Even before fully settled, you have no choice but to face a tonne of new challenges, and they seem to never stop coming. There may be a period of time where you feel that even this dream job is not as suitable for you as you expected. Things are not always as easy as you think, and you have to deal with all kinds of people with different backgrounds, which can make things even harder.
- Crack all the puzzles: It has been a while since you joined the team, you have gone through the busy peak period, and are getting used to the way it works here. Puzzles for you now are not as hard to crack as they were before, and things are on the right track. You can take a breath, and enjoy the work you have here. This is the ‘stabilised’ stage.
Also, this is the “MOMENT” this post mentioned in the beginning; it’s time to pack up, leave it all behind and move! Believe it or not, the majority of us will be so ‘addicted’ to this moment, and reluctant to or even refuse to move.
3. Instability and Changing – move or to be moved
After a period of down-time, the working environment that you are used to begins to change – the organisation may be under a reforming process, or the entire world may be experiencing a mega economic recession – but no matter what they are, changes are inevitably coming internally and externally. Eventually we all will hit this stage, as the only thing in the world that does not change is change itself. More often than not, this period can be quite painful, and it is just a matter of waiting out the change process regardless of how long it takes.
Some of us may change just because we have to – we are waiting for change to happen to us, rather than instigating it ourselves. In most cases, this can be a quite long period for us. One of the consequences we can anticipate as such a person is that we have a greater level of resistance to overcome, and most likely, we may fall behind or be reprimanded if we fail to keep up with others or simply cannot deal with such pain points.
Of course, you have the other option – see the “MOMENT”, pack up, and start to move before you reach that ‘forced change’ phase. Unlike the people who let change happen to them, doing this can make you more adaptive and give you more opportunities to be proactive in how you want the change to occur. In fact, this painful period would not take that long to go through, and it would also be less painful because you are well-prepared.
4. Restarting the search for stability
After the painful period and while everything is still in flux, it is time to look for stability once more, and go through the cycle again.
Maybe this is a bit exaggerated, but taking charge of change is usually less painful than when you wait to let change happen to you. So, what you need to do to practice this cycle in your career development is to:
- Keep ourselves alert all the time,
- Look for changes before they look for us,
- Be sensitive to see and react on the “MOMENT” when it comes,
- Build up confidence to say goodbye to stability,
- Stay positive, and
- Enjoy being instable!
Ryan Li is an experienced system coordinator with IT background sitting within UTS:Careers to work with faculties and units across UTS to enable system related requirements to be interpreted for technical solutions to meet the end user’s expectation.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.