Among the great comments posted on My Best Career Advice page is this one from Carolyn:

My advice is to the tune of ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers, and goes something like this…

You got to know when to hold on, know when to carry on
Know when to make a mark and know when to run.
You never pass an opportunity when you’re sittin’ at the crossroad
There’ll be time for celebrating when your objective is won.

Carolyn’s post reminds me of several of my clients over recent years who have  found the courage and inner resourcefulness to take their career in unexpected directions. Grace, for example, is in her mid-50s – an age when many women have ‘retired’ from the workforce or are scaling back. Grace had not been thinking of leaving work and had given herself 5 or so more years in  full-time work. One day Grace came to work to the news that her section was being ‘absorbed’ into another, and that there would be job losses. While many of her co-workers were in shock, Grace saw this as an opportunity to imagine a new career and indeed had been for some time drawn to working in overseas aide. The events at work gave her the nudge she needed to act.

Grace has formidable administrative talents from working  in a great variety of  admin roles for her entire career. Despite concerns about her financial security and being labelled an ‘older worker’, she planned and implemented a very smart job search strategy that saw her research opportunities, expand her networks and identify and apply for positions that suited her talents. Three months after making the decision to leave her employer, Grace found herself on a plane to a remote Pacific island, where she now works as a co-ordinator of a food co-operative for an international aide agency. A totally inspiring shift for someone who has lived and worked all of her life in the same location!

Nathan is in his late-20s, a qualified plumber working for a successful contractor.  Realistically, he could expect pretty solid employment ahead of him, which is particularly important as he is recently married and has a baby on the way. Given these circumstances it would be completely understandable for Nathan to sit tight in his job. But the fact is that Nathan hates being a plumber and has done so pretty much since he commenced his apprenticeship. He has now decided that it is time to re-train to be a para-medic – the job that he has wanted to do for some time. Nathan’s transition is not yet complete but his success is already being reflected in his re-newed energy and confidence and hope for the future.

Sometimes career gambles are worth taking.