I wrote a while ago about knowing when it is time to have a “Plan B” in your career. The gist of it was that, at some point after many years in the business, one must evaluate continuing in your chosen field or accepting the possibility that it is time to develop a second career. Most of the people I wrote about in that post had been in the business for twenty or thirty years and it was time to move on.
But there are other people, I meet them all the time, who just can’t gain any traction in their current careers. There are people who are perpetually out of work. Some of them are actually pretty good (rarely great) at what they do, but their careers have never gained momentum or traction. I know and meet many people in their early to mid-thirties who have rarely stayed at a job for more than two or three years. Some have had the misfortune of simply choosing the wrong company or have joined companies which cannot afford to keep them. Some are really nice, but not quite good enough, so after a few years, with reluctance, they are down-sized. There are some people who actually stay at a company for many years but do not get promoted. I know one person who was an account supervisor for nearly twelve years. And there are other people get blindsided by money and move on from their jobs prematurely in order to make bigger bucks. (I’ve written about jobs that overpay and people who leave only because of money.)
I can think of one person who, with no particular training, has had a small agency for twenty years. It never went anywhere and provides him with a very modest living. He contacts me regularly, perhaps twice a year, to get him a permanent gig at a big agency. It isn’t going to happen (for the reasons stated in my “Plan B” article).
All these people need to evaluate where they are and what they are doing. Some of these people stay in their current careers because they have to prove themselves right, which is a fool’s errand. We all know what the definition of insanity is. Truth is, no one cares except themselves. Everyone has the right to be successful and happy, which are not mutually exclusive attributes. Every person should constantly review his or her career and reevaluate career goals.
Success is not about money. Happiness is also not about money. Being fulfilled is wonderful. And to get there may require some painful introspection.
Being introspective can be very cathartic.
Personally, I loved advertising, but there was something missing for me, even though I came from an advertising family and had built and run a successful agency. It took me a long time to decide to recruit for advertising, which gave me a chance to have the best of both worlds. That was over thirty years ago and I haven’t regretted the decision for a minute.
Knowing when to move on is essential for everyone.
I wrote a second Plan B post and talked about how to figure out what to do next.
I was recently privileged to meet a woman who owns a very successful gourmet food store in Beach Haven, New Jersey. Both she and her husband were fed up with the big city rat race and moved there to open this store. Their business is fabulous and fulfilling and they are really having fun.
I wish that kind of success and happiness for everyone.