In Between Employment: From Certainty to Discovery – Part III

In Eclipse on October 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

With recent unemployment rates spiking to ten percent, many job seekers have adopted the question, “Why did this happen to me?”  Times of my job searching have been filled with frantic behaviors, compulsive online applications, disregarding positions for paychecks and choosing shallow reading over research.  Some people may find themselves unemployed and desperately seeking their next position.  Others of you may be in a job and would like to create a plan to start something new.  In this series of posts, I will share movements that can transform us in the job search process.

From Certainty to Discovery

As I have stepped into writing, I have found that a major deterrent is the uncertainty of what will come of my writing.  Will anyone read it?  Do I have what it takes as a writer?  I tend to want certainty; knowing how it will turn out.  This is the nature of many creative pursuits, and, I would venture to say, the nature of Calling.  We are often called to a place that we have never seen (E.g. a new career, a new employer, a new set of coworkers).  We are often called into uncertainty, rather than certainty.  Let’s look at ways that we try to harness uncertainty.

One way that I deal with my fear of the unknown is the question, “What do you think I should do?”  Seems innocent enough, right?  I mean, what is wrong with asking others for direction in our lives?  Asking  for others’ opinions can be a great resource.  And it can be an attempt to domesticate our job search, which is wild and untamed by nature.  How many times have I hidden behind this question; because, I did not want to face the uncertainty of the course I knew to be true in my heart?  Can you relate?

It is easy to miss this question’s inherent treachery.  When asked in moderation, it is docile enough.  But, when we rely upon this question for the direction of our lives, it can be a breeding ground for bitterness and hostility.  Because, when circumstances don’t support the course we have chosen, we have a fallback.  We can simply blame the other person for the (bad) guidance they gave!  What a sad legacy to leave in relationships.

Who else is better suited to address the big issues of your life than YOU?  We are tempted to hold others responsible for the actions we do (or do not) take.  So, ask yourself, “Who is really keeping me from my dreams?”  Is it the person who has not given me the ‘best’ advice?  Or could it be that my need for certainty keeps me from the new venture?

So, how do we navigate new uncharted waters in our career?  As a writer, I sometimes get hung up on thinking that my writing has to look a certain way.  You know, if my articles do not match those of other writers, I can get bent out of shape.  I hold up an idea of what my writing needs to look like.  In the spirit of exploration, I remember one of the great English adventurers, Dr. David Livingstone.  When writing about Livingstone’s journeys into Africa, adventure writer, Martin Dugard, recounts:

“Livingstone’s explorations were never linear or brief.  Instead, he reveled in rambling circuitous wanders through jungles, swamp and savannah that lasted years and years; long walks through open spaces without benefit of a map that epitomized exploration in its purest form.  The London papers often assumed the worst in those lengthy absences and had reported Livingstone’s death on several occasions.  But he was never lost, just overdue.”

While the idea of jungles and swamps may seem irrelevant to career searches, the notion of exploration requires such metaphors.  Often times, searching for our new/next position can be fraught with mishaps, mistakes and ‘circuitous routes’.  What if we took these experiences as learners, rather than performers?  Our focus would be on learning, instead of doing things the ‘right’ way (whatever that is!).  So, embracing discovery means learning rather than knowing.  Rather than being certain, we get to be explorers.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts.  I’d love to hear from you.  What have been some of your learnings on career exploration?



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