Career Advice from Treebeard (Guest Post)
Posted September 24, 2014

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by Jim Greco


“You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.” 

― J.R.R. TolkienThe Two Towers


When you are going through a career transition, patience is your enemy.  I know this because I am going through such a transition at the moment.  The moment I decided to leave my company, my mind immediately started racing, making a mental list of all of the things I needed to start doing to ensure I had a productive job search.  Yet at the same time, I knew deep down that I could really use a break — to unplug, clear my head, and to invest ample time in making the important decision of ‘what will I do next?’  After 18 years of putting my professional ‘pedal to the metal’, I decided I needed to take a 2-3 month break.


Boy was it worth it.


To be honest, my break wasn’t one where I let go completely and played golf three times a week, slept in until 9 or 10 in the morning, or went on a walkabout in the Australian Outback.  Instead, I did the equivalent of setting my job search “cruise control” to … say … 30 miles an hour.  Yes, it felt slow.  But while methodically beginning the process of catching up with old colleagues, preparing a resume and researching future companies of interest, I also enjoyed a long 2+ week vacation with my family, played golf once a week, and gave myself the time to let my mind wander in the process.  It turned out to be a great balance of priorities, allowing me to methodically move my search forward while at the same time allowed me to explore the many potential future paths I might take.


Working with a personal coach during this time also allowed me to step back, reassess my values and priorities, and gave me the courage to ask myself more than “what can I do?” … but instead, “what do I WANT to do?”.


The journey of ‘trying on’ new careers and new companies through the research and networking process has been a great learning experience, and dare I say fun as well.  If you were to ask me my secret formula for this process, I would quickly respond that it boils down to one thing: really knowing what you want.  The key for me was not to rush that process.  I gave myself time to step back and reflect.  I hired a personal coach to help me untangle all of the swirling thoughts and assumptions in my head.  And I spoiled myself a little bit along the way to ensure I enjoyed the ride.


Unfortunately, there are many (legitimate) challenges associated with a career transition that pressure us to move fast — the need for a steady income is the one that immediately comes to mind.  Whether your situation is one where you are placed into a transition suddenly, or whether you are currently employed and considering a change, I say this: TIME IS REQUIRED to reflect and evaluate your future path — and that is when I thought of wise old Treebeard whom I quote at the beginning of this post.  Yes, I admit it is easier said than done — but I think it has truly been the ‘difference-maker’ for me.


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