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How to Stay Stuck in the Wrong Career
December 2002 | HBR | by Herminia Ibarra.

But change actually happens the other way around. Doing comes first, knowing second, because changing careers means redefining our working identity--our sense of self in our professional roles, what we convey about ourselves to others and, ultimately, how we live our working lives. Who we are and what we do are tightly connected, the result of years of action. And to change that connection, we must first resort to action--exactly what the conventional wisdom cautions us against....First, determine with as much clarity and certainty as possible what you really want to do. Next, use that knowledge to identify jobs or fields in which your passions can be coupled with your skills and experience. Seek advice from the people who know you best and from professionals in tune with the market. Then simply implement the resulting action steps. Change is seen as a one-shot deal: The plan-and-implement approach cautions us against making a move before we know exactly where we are going....It all sounds reasonable, and it is a reassuring way to proceed. Yet my research suggests that proceeding this way will lead to the most disastrous of results, which is to say no result. So if your deepest desire is to remain indefinitely in a career that grates on your nerves or stifles your self-expression, simply adhere to that conventional wisdom, presented below as a foolproof, three-point plan....what consumed 90% of the year he spent looking for a new career, is what the conventional models leave out-a lot of trial and error....that it is possible to discover one's "true self," when the reality is that none of us has such an essence. (See the sidebar "Our Many Possible Selves "for a discussion of why one's true self is so elusive.) Intense introspection also poses the danger that a potential career changer will get stuck in the realm of daydreams....We learn who we have become-in practice, not in theory-by testing fantasy and reality, not by "looking inside." Knowing oneself is crucial, but it is usually the outcome of-and not a first input to-the reinvention process....To launch ourselves anew, we need to get out of our heads. We need to act....But when it comes to reinventing ourselves, the people who know us best are the ones most likely to hinder rather than help us....Mentors and close coworkers, though well meaning, can also unwittingly hold us back...So if self-assessment, the advice of close ones, and the counsel of change professionals won't do it, then where can we find support for our reinvention?....Reaching outside our normal circles to new people, networks, and professional communities is the best way to both break frame and get psychological sustenance.
Managing_Your_Career  career_paths  career  HBR  reinvention  Second_Acts  Herminia_Ibarra  analysis_paralysis  trial_&_error  action-oriented  self-assessment  self-awareness  pragmatism  counterintuitive  conventional_wisdom  change 
august 2011 by jerryking
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