You know the excitement surrounding a potential career choice, right?
You attend college as part of your career preparation plan, after graduating from high school. You graduate from college ready to enter the workforce in this chosen profession.
From there, you expect to become a successful career professional by the time you reach the age of adulthood.
But, what happens when your career doesn't go as planned?
To see it in action, let's consider my case.
I researched and planned my career. I wanted to 'help and make a difference in the lives of others' on a large scale and went to college with a set career path.
I was at ease with my plan. And, I thought I'd be well into a public service career and excelling by the time I reached my 30s.
But, my career plan fell through.
Instead of entering my chosen profession, a few months after graduating from college, I was in a Caregiving role for an elder. Caregiving threw my career path off course.
It wasn't part of my career trajectory. During this time, because I was still committed to the career I envisioned, I furthered my education as a graduate student, earning a graduate degree in my field.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself amongst the ranks of the unemployed.
Allow me to emphasize things: I, someone who's prepared myself for a profession through academia; someone who's developed skills professionally and personally; and someone who's even obtained some work experience along the way (including those years of caregiving), have been unsuccessful in my job search, despite my preparation and best efforts.
Here's the kicker, though: I never before thought about the possibility of a failed career plan. About unemployment and its possibility in my life. In fact, I prepared and fought against both, or so I thought.
Who wants the 'unemployed' label?
Who wants the 'failure' label?
Who wants to walk through the fog of uncertainty?
I didn't, but unemployment materialized itself in my life. And, for longer than I could've imagined.
I never thought I'd have so much difficulty landing a job. Why? Because I'd never before failed to accomplish what I'd set out to do.
But, I've failed to achieve my goal here. Things haven't working out, regardless of my career and job search learning plans.
I'll admit: it was frightening for a while. And, for some time, career disappointment clouded my vision.
Over time, however, I accepted a significant fact: my career wasn't happening the way I expected.
Upon accepting this fact, I realized I had, in fact, accomplished my goal. Just not according to my expectation.
As a Caregiver for several years, I made a difference in the life of my elder. I managed the life, possessions, and well-being of another person who was unable to do it alone.
While I focused on accomplishing my goal on a larger scale, I missed the realization of my accomplishment on a smaller scale through caregiving. My heart was closed too tightly to receive it at the time.
This insight came through unemployment and humbled me.
I learned a lesson on flexibility. I also learned the importance of focusing on present opportunities, so I've kept hope alive, despite all the rejections received in my job search process.
And, keeping hope alive and exploring opportunities in a lengthy job search led to the creation of my blog, where I empower other (degree-holding) professionals to shift their perspective and serenely navigate unemployment, like I've been doing. To see this as an opportunity to learn, grow, and move forward in every aspect of life, including their careers.
While blogging wasn't part of my original career plan, I've come to enjoy it. I've learned (and am still learning) many skills, which include: Content Writing, Editing and Proofreading, HTML, SEO, and Photo Editing.
I've learned them because I didn't let failure feelings and rejection stings hold me down.
I don't know, with certainty, where blogging and freelance writing will take me professionally. But, I have this calmness about my career and am trusting things to work out.
So, if you're dealing with disappointment in your career,
. . . then reflect on your life as it is.
You're not a failure (change your perception) so accept the fact your plans haven't happened when or how you expected. Grieve the 'unfulfilled dream' for a period, but don't stay there. Push through the disappointment.
A great way to manage your disappointment is by refocusing on your achievements. Think about the people you've helped along the way. Be grateful for what you've done as opposed to what you haven't done yet.
And, please keep this in mind: life goes on. It doesn't stop, so you shouldn't stop living and courageously taking action.
Be open to new paths in your career, if things haven't turned out as planned. It just might bring the release you need for overcoming your disappointment.
A disappointment is painful. But, you can bounce back and move forward in your career. Three of the best things you can do when dealing with this kind of disappointment are: grieve and let go of your expectations and timeframes, practice gratitude for previous and present achievements, and remain open to alternatives.
A failure or disappointment isn't the end of your career, unless you allow it to be. The choice is yours.
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