For some of us making a career change can be difficult because we don’t know where to start. This can be particularly tough if your challenge is having ‘too many ideas’. Not knowing which way to move can lead to inertia. You don’t know which one to pursue, so you don’t do anything (sometimes in fear of getting it wrong). This can be very frustrating. It’s a challenge that is familiar to me. I have loads of ideas of things I’d like to try in my career. I have found the process of sorting through them, and making a timely decision, quite a complex process. So… if I may, I’d like to consider this particular dilemma with an attractive metaphor (if you like shoes, that is), and a story I heard recently.
Having lots of ideas is a bit like going into a fabulous shoe shop. You walk through the doors, and you see all manner of beautiful shoes in front of you. You don’t know where to look first. How do you make sense of what’s in front of you, let alone make a choice?
I could get carried away with this shoe metaphor. What will fit you best? What if you change your mind? What if they give you blisters? Okay, enough of that.
Perhaps the answer might be quite simple. By selecting one, you’re not actually saying no to all the others. You keep all your ideas. That was the advice I heard when I watched an interview with entrepreneur Chris Wild, from Retronaut.com, who faced this challenge (about ideas, not shoes). He had lots of ideas and he wasn’t sure which one to progress…and then he shared that simple piece of advice. It sounds really straightforward as I write it, however, when you think about it a bit more, he’s really on to something. He explained that just because you choose one idea now, doesn’t mean you are giving up on all the others. You keep them in your back pocket for later. What a relief!
After talking through his ideas with trusted colleagues and friends, Chris made a choice. He decided to go with the idea he felt most drawn to, the one he felt energised by. Dare I use the ‘P’ word here – the idea he felt most passionate about at the time. Why? Because he had made previous career decisions this way, and it had served him well. Of course, there were other considerations, and he had done his homework. He felt the timing was right for this idea. If it didn’t work out, he had those other ideas (in his back pocket).
Now I realise this might have you saying ‘Hey, hang on a minute, we can’t just follow what we feel most attracted to… that’s not sensible and sometimes it’s just not possible’. Sure, sometimes other factors are more critical. There are many considerations in career decisions. However, I have noticed that people doing well at things they enjoy feel really drawn to. This features heavily in their career decision-making. So what if you notice yourself feeling energised when you speak about a particular idea? Are you thinking about it more than your other ideas? Are you already giving more attention to it? Perhaps that’s the one to start with.
The same might be said for selecting shoes. What if you bought the shoes you spent the most time looking at (you’ve tried them on three times already!)? What if you picked that pair?
You can save your other ideas (and shoe purchases) for later.