|Career & Work Life Matters
Vol 2, no. 17
|When things are uncertain, it is difficult to move from idea to action.Would you like to shift from “just thinking about it” to taking specific actions to make the changes you want in your career and work life? If you are struggling to translate your ideas into action, structure may be the missing piece.|
What is the Cost?
How engaged do you feel about work? If you are not happy at work, you may feel that this is not the right time to take action. More often than not, making change involves taking a risk. It is important to consider your willingness to take risks.
It is also important to consider the costs of not taking steps to improve your situation. What actions can you take that will have a positive impact? Decades of research show that unemployment is associated with negative health outcomes. But research by Gallup found that individuals who are actively disengaged from work are also at risk of poorer health.
Do you want to make a change in your career and work life, but struggle to get beyond the “thinking about it” stage? According to Scott Belsky, structure is essential for translating ideas into action. In his book, Making Ideas Happen, he writes “Organization is just as important as ideas when it comes to making an impact.”
Putting a Structure in Place
Change can feel overwhelming. How do you begin? What should you do first? Uncertainty is integral to career change and job search. It’s part of what makes the process difficult. That’s why having a structure to support you is so important.
Even the biggest change consists of smaller steps. Can you break it down into tasks that you can begin and complete? Even if you are not yet clear about all the actions you need to take, is there one task you can do to begin the process? For example, in my own career change experience, signing up for a “Return to Study” evening class was a pivotal step. I did this before I made any decisions about leaving the job I had at the time. It was a small step. I did not yet have a clear path to follow. But it did provide the impetus for my next step of applying for my degree studies.
Your first step will vary according to your situation. Another example might be calling 5 people in your network to ask if they know anyone in your target industry. To see a more detailed task list for someone in active job search, have a look at this chart created by expert author, Orville Pierson.
Translating ideas into small action steps may seem like a simple process. But that doesn’t mean that it is easy. There are “good reasons” to avoid identifying specific tasks to complete. For example, if things do not go as you expect, and they often don’t, you may feel like you’re on an emotional roller-coaster. On the other hand, unless you have support of a structure in place, it’s too easy to procrastinate or get distracted. You also miss out on potentially valuable feedback about the effectiveness of your activities.
If you are feeling stuck, can you create the structure you need to move forward? What might be a good first step?
What helps you translate your ideas into action?
Share your experience below.