Tag Archives: options

“O” is for Options (part 2)

th-3It can be unsettling to believe you have no options…that where you currently are in your career is all there is. In my last post, I told the story of a former client who took steps to check out her “no options” belief. Once she realized she had some, she discovered renewed energy and a surprising desire to stay exactly where she was. Knowing you have options can be freeing. It can also be exciting (and mostly risk free) to explore your options once you discover them.th-5

Here are some thoughts to help you discover and expand your options:

Check out your fears. Think of my client. Her fear was that should something happen to her current position, she would not be able to get another similar or better position.  She put her money where her fear was. She hired a coach (me), got her resume in order and sent it out to a number of open positions that interested her. She had bites immediately and a couple of interviews. She learned a number of things about herself in this jth-8ourney and what skills and experience the current job market was looking for. She ended her investigation with an updated resume and a new sense of confidence in her skills. Her decision to stay in her current position actually came as a surprise to her. However, should something happen with her job, she now knows she’ll be OK. There was no downside to what she did but the loss of a few vacation days she used for interviews.

What are your fears? If you’re concerned you are not competitive in today’s job market, act as if you’re looking for a new position and compare your resume/accomplishments to job postings in your field on LinkedIn, Career Builder, and on the websites of companies where you’d like to work. If you see there are common skills listed you do not have, determine how to acquire those skills through workshops, community college, volunteering, etc.  You may discover an opening or two you’d like to go for. Send out your resume. It’s low risk. See how you fare.

What would you do if you could do anything? Many people feel a career is a path with no th-2offshoots. Not so. Having a steady income is the perfect time to begin exploring (remember that word from my last post?) what’s next or what’s in-addition-to. As with everything, having awareness is the first step. What is, as my students often say, your “dream job”? What does that job require? Is it possible to achieve those requirements? Reality is important here; becoming an NBA player is out of bounds for most of us. But…you may have more options than you think.

Changing your “yes, but” to “yes and.” Often when we look to expand outside our known experience/habits, we stop ourselves with the phrase “yes, but.” For example, you might say, “Yes, I’d love to go to grad school, but I work long hours/travel frequently/don’t have the th-11money/etc.” You block that option and all it could lead to. Instead, try saying “Yes, I’d love to go to grad school and I work long hours/travel frequently/don’t have the money/etc.” By replacing “but” with “and” your sentence begs for a solution rather than stopping at an excuse.

Prep for your options where you currently are. Let’s say an option you’d like to check out is starting your own business. What can you learn about this while keeping your current position? How might your current position allow you to learn more about budgeting, marketing, sales, business planning? This is where open ears and eyes come in. There may be projects you can volunteer for that will help you make contacts or learn skills you need to support one of your options. Your current job can be a great source of experience and learning once you begin to look at it with “new” eyes.

Options can exist places other than your workplace. Your workplace is not the only venue thwhere you have options. Fulfilling, exciting experiences can be had elsewhere which can help you bring new vigor and skills to your career. Involvements outside of work can help open up options for all sorts of experiences and learning.

A single thread runs through all these suggestions… you need to be engaged in order to see your options. Too many people use the excuse of being “crazy busy” to come to a career standstill and schlepp to work each day. According to an April 2015 Gallup Daily Tracking poll, 31.7% of American workers are engaged in their jobs. This is a sad commentary on how many (68.3%) are not looking for their options.


My former client had the courage to explore what her options were. One learning she took away was having options doesn’t mean you have to act on them. When she saw she had them, she felt better about her current position.th-1

Open eyes, open ears, and, perhaps most importantly, an open mind will help you begin to find the courage to explore the options available in your career.




“O” is for Options part 1

th-1Last year, I coached a woman who had been in her position for about ten years. She contacted me because she wanted to look for something new, and felt “out of the loop” when it came to looking for a new job and interviewing. As with many of my clients, she had lost touch with all she had done in her career. When we first began digging into her resume more than once she exclaimed, “Oh that’s right! I’d forgotten all about that project.”

Not long after sending her resume to a few open positions, she began getting calls for interviews. At our first meeting after she’d been to a couple interviews she revealed that she had decided to remain where she was. “I felt as though I had no options,” she said. “Now that th-2I’ve been interviewing, I see I have options and that makes me feel more confident about staying where I am.”

Options. For some they are a burden that can weigh heavy and lead to anxiety and confusion. For others, they bring a sense of freedom that allows us to make the choice that is right for us. In which camp do you fall?

Options often come into play for the first time when we finish high school. Do we go to college th-3and if so, which one? If college isn’t in the cards, there is the whole question of meaningful work in a company, a trade, or maybe the military beckons. As life goes on and responsibilities grow, many begin to believe their options narrow. Is that true? When people say they are keeping their “options open”, what exactly does that mean?

I choose to believe we always have options. Options are choices and when it comes to our careers we can find options by keeping our eyes, ears and mind open. It can be scary to explore th-5options if we believe we must act on them. But if we can reframe that belief, if we can convince ourselves that we are just exploring the options. Our career world can open up.

Let’s look again at my opening example. My client came to me saying she wanted to change jobs. Did she? Or was she really seeking to explore her options to reassure herself that she actually had options? Once she saw that her skills were viable in today’s job market, she felt better about where she was. Knowing you have options can be very freeing.

th-6Who limits our options? We do. By narrowing our vision of what might be possible and who we could become. The good news is if we can narrow our vision, we also have the power to open it up. How? Part 2 of O is for Options will be posted later this month. There we will look at how you can uncover some options that might be right where you currently are.

In the meantime, what is your view on options? A blessing or a curse?