Taking a Career Risk: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward.”

Steve Jobs made the sage remark. I think of ” connecting the dots going forward” whenever a career counseling client faces uncertainty.
I know that, at my best, I embrace this philosophy and view life as an adventure.  At my worst, I am in control mode and feel anxious when I don’t know how things will play out.
Both happened today as I was lost in the woods (literally). While I was lost, I thought of my clients finding their way through the wilderness (metaphorically).
I live in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.  We live next to several acres of forest. It is quite beautiful and I enjoy walking in these woods. There are no trails so it really is the state of nature. These hikes are fantastic for the body and soul. But when I venture too far I occasionally lose my way – I’m directionally challenged probably because I think too much!

Today, I got lost. When I realized that I didn’t know how to get back to my house, I had a wonderful moment of clarity as I thought of Jobs’ remark and realized how so many of my career counseling clients feel “lost” but don’t move. In my case, I had to keep moving, try out different directions to see if I could find my bearings. My career counseling clients should “move” and “try out” different possibilities. Staying stuck would not help them any more than it would me in this predicament. 

There was a moment that I realized that if I didn’t find my way out soon that I would be late for my first appointment. In fifteen years of meetings, I can count on one hand how many times I have been late to meetings – and I think all were due to some insanity on Connecticut’s highway of hell – Route 95! I felt anxious as I was not in control. Fortunately, I had another moment of clarity: “this is how my clients feel when lost in their careers.” 

​I kept moving and then saw the glorious opening in the woods far ahead. I had another metaphorical realization. The end goal – the opening towards my home – was a long ways off.  But as soon as I was on the path towards it, I felt at peace.  I know this same truth about the clients that I help towards their own career path.  They can’t magically snap their fingers and put themselves in a new career any more than I could snap my fingers and put myself back home.  But once they know they are headed in the right direction, they, like me, feel happy and peaceful.