There we were yet again. Another long night discussing the pros and cons of making a big career move. I paced back and forth in the living room talking about what could be and what we should consider, while secretly in my mind trying to justify making a move that would seem crazy to outsiders. This has become a pattern in our family. After spending over 10 years at Lockheed Martin, I took the leap into consulting. Then a few years later I decided to join Google—a decision that required us to move across the country and away from our family and friends. Rinse and repeat, now we’re in Boulder Colorado in the pursuit of a great mission. Over time we’ve learned to embrace the journey. The actual work and energy that goes into making big career decisions can be both scary and exciting. Scary, because you’ll have to leave what may be comfortable for the unknown. And exciting, because you know that an adventure lies ahead.

So whether or not you find yourself in a good place when it comes to your career, I’d like to challenge you a bit. Far too often we get complacent when it comes to our career journey. We get busy and get caught up in the rat race without challenging the current. We play it safe. We settle for what is good—instead of pursuing what is great. Below are a few ways you can begin to break out of the mold most of us stay in for far too long.

 

Change Your Perspective

Before anything else we have to assess our current perspective when it comes to work. What are our current beliefs and do they align with what we actually want. We try to draw a line between work and life over and over again. But we fail. Work is such an important part of who we are. It spills over into every aspect of our lives. So why would we settle for a current role or career that doesn’t align with who we are? Steve Jobs said it best, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” So if you can find it within you to agree with this perspective, then adopt it and don’t let it fade. Be intentional in the pursuit of what is great.

 

Know What You’re Aiming For

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time,” I love that nugget of wisdom from Zig Ziglar. So simple but yet so true. When it comes to our career it’s important that you know what you want. Remember the daunting question, what do you want to be when you grow up? Well, it’s not an easy one to answer because for many of us it changes often. But what you can answer are the things you know about yourself. What makes you come alive? What are your natural gifts and which careers and positions align with those? What type of people do you like to work with? What type of environments are you most creative/productive in? Knowing what you’re aiming for will easily help you spot opportunities that would otherwise be overlooked. Become a self-expert and know what it takes to make you thrive.

 

Get Comfortable with Taking Risks

Early in my career I thought that in order to succeed I just had to do great work and opportunities would follow. Doors would surely open. Well—I was wrong. Being great at what you do is just one part of the equation. If you don’t own your career, no one will. Along with being proactive for your career advancement, you’ll have to get comfortable with taking risks. A calculated leap of faith. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks” said Mark Zuckerberg. Throughout our career journey we have to constantly assess and take risks. Should I ask my boss for a raise or another position? Should I make a lateral move to advance my skillset? Taking risks is the only way we move forward. And if we decide not to take any risks, we may actually be taking the biggest risk in our career. At the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

 

As you continue to navigate your career journey take the necessary time to pray, plan, and prep for what’s around the corner. If you’re not happy with where you are then it’s your responsibility to change it. Begin by adopting a growth mindset, becoming a self expert, and embracing the adventure that comes along with taking risks. And finally, enjoy the journey. What’s the point if you’re not having fun along the way?

 

What are your thoughts when it comes to navigating your career? Are you preparing yourself for the next move or are you happy where you are? I’ll be sure to join you in the comments below.

Roberto Ortiz
Roberto Ortiz

Roberto heads up design + tech for Grit and Virtue and is a quality junkie. He has worked for Lockheed Martin, Google, Yahoo, and as a consultant for startups. When given the opportunity you can find him speaking on the topics of design, diversity, and education.

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