The other day, as I was nervously preparing for interviews, I had a friend give me some career advice that really upset me. In her opinion, some of the career fields I was considering did not fit my personality traits and qualities. I was truly taken aback!
My friend is very successful, careerwise and financially. She is a few years older than me, a diehard, analytical, competitive person. I’ve always looked to her for advice, especially career advice, and I’d never received this kind of feedback from her before.
But then I calmed down, and asked her to clarify her message. I realized that from her viewpoint, I wasn’t thinking about where my strengths were, but listening to everyone (recruiters, employers, even family) tell me how I’d be good at something I didn’t know anything about. She was worried I would choose a career based on that feedback, from people who may not know me well or have my best interests at heart. From the “Yes” Men.
“You’re going about it backwards,” she said, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you would be good at. That’s how people end up in the wrong job. Look at you, good and bad, and take those traits, the ones you cannot change, and make sure they line up in your career.” (Sounds like Brian’s advice, huh?)
She named off a few careers that she would personally be terrible at, which made me laugh. She had a point… while she could succeed at those jobs, she would hate and resent them. I’d been building myself up with the feedback others were giving me, not really taking into account what I wanted.
I told her I found this whole transition prospect a bit terrifying. It was then that she gave me the best advice I’ve received in a while.
“What’s terrifying about it?” she said, “It’s not like you are going to fail. You will succeed at whatever you choose – it’s whether you are happy in what you do that makes all the difference.”
I’ve received a ton of unsolicited advice from people about my career transition. And I take it all with a grain of salt, even from people I love. But I listen. I listen because other people have experience that I don’t, good and bad. Then I see what good I can glean from it to help me along the way.
I’m starting job interviews, and I’m nervous. I’ve been told to answer questions in different ways, to look at jobs in different fields, that I’d be good at this/that/the other. But I know I’m not going to fail. I don’t need to be afraid. I have the ability to adapt and overcome, to be successful at whatever I choose. I just need to choose what will make me happy, what I want to succeed at, what I believe I will be good at. I’m not going to take a job because someone else says I’ll be good at it. I’m going to take a job that I WANT. I’m going to take a job that INSPIRES me. I’m going to take a job that makes me EXCITED.
Wish me luck!