Check out these 3 scenarios where saying “yes” moved real people to the next leg of their careers. None are over-the-top-non-relatable-stories where someone with a few million in savings chucked it all to find their bliss as a scuba instructor. These are examples of how saying “yes” to occurrences which, in hindsight, we call “serendipitous events,” can re-chart your career course. They may seem inconsequential at the time, but when we connect the dots and see how staying open can influence our career path, it’s worth a serious look.
1. “Have you ever done any bookkeeping?” L’s aunt asked. “Some, but I’m not a fan;” L replied. “Well,” her aunt continued, “your kids are getting older and I need to find someone to manage my part-time bookkeeping job while I head to Florida for three months this winter. Wanna do it?” In her head, L thought, “Why not, I can do anything for 3 months, even bookkeeping, and I’ll get paid, and I’ll see what it feels like to work part time after being home with kids for five years.” After taking a few days to consider what she would do for child care, L agreed, not knowing that this “yes” began her re-entry into the workforce. (When her aunt returned in the spring, L was asked to join the organization in a role more suited to her past experience and skill set.)
2. “I heard that you do some freelancing on the side. Do you want to work on some marketing materials for my business?” Already balancing work, freelance, family and more, the “Yes!” that S heard coming from his mouth surprised him. It eventually led to a significant freelance gig and ultimately to being signed on as an employee of the company where he stayed for the next 6 years. This new assignment allowed him to relinquish some of his more time-consuming (and stressful) freelance jobs and build on a specific product area of expertise. His “yes” resulted in a total industry change (even though he wasn’t looking for one) and propelled his career in a new direction while achieving a level of work-life balance he never even expected.
3. The voice on the phone said, “E, we want you to work here, in the poorest school district in the area. With your experience, we’d love to have you.” She thought; “Out of the burbs and into the bowels of the city? Hmmmmm? I’ve been teaching students in a district where bedtime stories are expected, where pantries full of food are taken for granted and test scores are highest in the state. Why would I go teach where the school feeds their students three meals a day, where resources are scarce, and where turnover is ridiculously high?” The answer came quietly, but with clarity; “Because I’m needed there. There are a ton of teachers waiting to take my place at this school; they don’t need me here. But those kids…they need me there.” “Yes, I’ll take, it;” she answered.” (E is now on the road to making a difference in lives of disadvantaged youth and, she says, evolving as a human in ways she could have never imagined.)
Note that each person above dealt with a fear of saying yes. Fear of becoming a working mom and all that goes with that, fear of taking on more work and upsetting family balance, fear of going from a cushy-comfortable routine to something unpredictable. In each case, the gut instinct, the unexplained pull to say yes, trumped fear.
I’m calling for guest bloggers who are willing to share how an unplanned YES moved them in an unexpected career direction. Click for submission guidelines.
Photo credit: Flickr via renaissancechambara