It's tough when you spend your entire career in an occupation only to discover that there aren't any jobs in it anymore. Ouch. That's why many of us need to reinvent ourselves just when we thought we might be able to go on cruise control at work. Which reminds me of a Cleveland contractor who found $182,000 in Depression-era currency in the wall of a home he was working on.
That contractor isn't the only person sitting on a potential fortune that was initially hidden from view. Many of us have under-appreciated skills that could lead directly to a lucrative new career, but it takes time, effort and some open-mindedness to discover them. That's why it's so important to explore new directions for your career. I've included three Do's and one Don't for reinventing yourself. For more tips, read "We Are All Self-Employed," by Cliff Hakim (Berrett-Koehler, 2003).
-- DO expect discomfort. Changing careers or embarking on a new direction is tough. It's like doing a high wire act without a net. You have to learn new rules, gain new skills and make lots of mistakes. Having created my last 10 jobs, I know how frustrating, challenging and painful this journey can be. But I also know that the pain often gives way to incredible satisfaction.
-- DO take care of yourself. It's easy to get dispirited when you are in transition to something new. That's why it's so important to take good care of yourself. Get sleep, exercise and be wary of that classic depressant, alcohol. Volunteer in your community. Keep a file of positive emails and letters from bosses, co-workers, customers and vendors. But mostly, work to eradicate sarcasm and negative thinking from your life. Be someone that people want to be around.
-- DO embrace surprises. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have skills that they never knew existed. Or that they never thought could be the basis of a career. Or that outsiders value more than they do. Talk to friends and co-workers about your under-appreciated or under-used skills and then explore how you can build a new career around them.
-- DON'T have unrealistic time frames. In this economy, everything takes longer, so don't beat yourself up if it takes you months to gain traction. That said, I'm not advocating procrastination. Not at all. I'm just saying that you need to establish a realistic time frame and goals.
Hidden surprises turned out great for that contractor, and it could turn out great for you. Follow these tips and you could find yourself reinvented at work.
TRANSFORMERS: REINVENTING YOURSELF EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
-- DO expect discomfort.
-- DO take care of yourself.
-- DO embrace surprises.
-- DON'T have unrealistic time frames.
LIST OF THE WEEK
From Pew Research
Finding Meaning: What Parents Find Meaningful
-- Child care, 62 percent.
-- Leisure, 59 percent.
-- Housework, 43 percent.
-- Paid work, 36 percent.
"Man is what he believes." -- Anton Chekhov
(Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Also check out the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best-seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via email@example.com.)