I always chuckle a little when people ask me about my “career plan.” I’ve had a varied career– made several significant changes in role and focus. But there wasn’t a lot of planning involved.
Well actually there wasn’t any planning really. What there was, was a lot of gradual evolving and (sometimes very happenstance) networking. And lots of being in the right place at the right time.
And, there has been an unbroken safety net positioned squarely underneath every one of my career moves.
I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve always been in a position to move from one job to the next without a gap– without unemployment. And I should also acknowledge that I have the good fortune to never have had a job that was so stifling or unpleasant that I felt I just had to escape regardless of the risks.
But I would be lying if I said I’ve never been tempted. There have been lots of times when I have fantasized about walking away and winging it. Times when I’ve thought “what if…”
But I’ve never had the courage to jump without a net. The closest I ever came was leaving a full-time, “permanent” teaching position for a part-time term position with an employer I considered more desirable. But even then I was going directly from one paycheque to another. One pension plan to another. One benefits package to another.
You get the idea.
Once in a while I catch myself dreaming about going out on my own. Freelancing. Consulting. Being my own boss.
I know people who’ve done it– who do it very successfully. I know it can be done.
But I always stop short of giving up the net. When you get to my age, a good pension plan can be pretty addictive.
The good news is that, notwithstanding the fact that every job has its ups and downs, I actually like where I work right now. Fortunately I am in a job that has enough change built right into it to satisfy my endless craving to learn new things.
I don’t know who it was that originally said, ““Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Perhaps I’ve never had the courage to just plain quit any job because I’ve never had a job that was that kind of painful. I know I should be grateful for that. Because I know people who have reached that kind of breaking point in their work life and have had to make the leap–without a net–for the sake of their own well-being and personal integrity.
I still think it takes guts to jump overboard, even if you are convinced the ship is sinking!
A couple of months ago Marina Shifren resigned from her job with a video that went viral. Now that’s what I call jumping without a net.