After working for many years and finally reaching a stage where we feel comfortable in figuring out what we want in a meaningful career, it can be a cold bucket of water in the face when the dream job, ultimate client or chosen freelance gig doesn’t work out the way we had planned.
As Steve Jobs once said, “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
This quote resonates with me because many times in my life I believed I had scored the ‘perfect’ job or finally secured the ideal client only to have my hopes dashed when reality bites and it wasn’t the fit I had built up in my mind.
The same can be said for many areas in life such as relationships, houses, friendships, investments, travel plans etc… but when it comes to your career the ego can take a big knock, because what was once so well planned and executed, now feels questionable, unsuitable and out of your control.
The good news is, shit happens, and nothing is ever completely out of control when you have a brain in your head, willingness to try again and the motivation to create your best work and best life.
Therefore, when the dream gig doesn’t work out, here are three strategies to help you get back on track:
Understand what was it about the job that potentially made it a wrong fit for you, for instance, was it the company values, client demands, deadlines, team environment, or limited opportunity to use skills and talents you thrive on and enjoy? Getting a clear view of why this particular job didn’t fit for you will help exponentially when you sit down to unearth what you truly desire in the next step of your career.
If nothing else, you know now what you ultimately DON’T want in a job or client, so be thankful for discovering it and gaining valuable experience. Like Steve said, mistakes happen, on both sides of the fence, so it doesn’t matter who is to ‘blame’ or why it went wrong, it is best to accept that it didn’t work out in order to move forward.
Using this time to reconsider your ‘dream’ is vital to avoid having to deal with similar issues in the future. Ask yourself, what do I imagine myself doing in my dream job? What am I willing to put up with and what am I not willing to tolerate? Then make a list of everything you believe you need in order to be happy in your career such as ideal clients, ideal colleagues, ideal challenges etc…
3. Refocus & Relaunch
Consider what are your options now. Do you want to continue down the same path and try again or have you picked up a valuable new insight that has allowed you to turn a corner and try something new?
When it’s time to take on a new project, apply for another role or develop a new product for your customers, instead of asking yourself what do I want to ‘do’, get gritty with who do I want to ‘be’. What service do you want to offer the world and be remembered for?
Turning your attention around to who you want to be in your life – via the work you produce – allows your career to take on a whole new level of importance, value and meaning that you will ultimately find fulfilling and satisfying because it will align with your personal values.
Now tell me, have you ever experienced a time in your career when you counted your chickens before they hatched only to be left with egg on your face? What did you learn and how did you move on?