It's your choice
The three Cs in life
For the last few weeks, our soon-to-be-a-college-graduate daughter has agonized over her post-university plans.
Her dream is to live and work abroad, specifically in London, at a social advocacy NGO,* but she’s found it nearly impossible to find an organization willing to sponsor an employment visa.
Could she apply for U.S.-based jobs? Of course, and she has.
But she also happens to be fluent in French and Italian, so she applied for teaching programs in those European countries.
About a week ago, she received the good news that the Italian program accepted her and, after some back-and-forth, granted her request for placement in Milan. (She LOVES big cities.) She was thrilled but hadn’t heard back from the French program yet, and wasn’t sure what to do.
And then, a few days ago, the French program reached out and also extended an offer.
She now had choices to make:
Accept the Italian placement
Accept the French placement
Decline both offers
Though she experienced loads of anxiety before finally making a decision (What if I make the wrong choice, Mom?), once she did, a sense of calm and eager anticipation washed over her. She put the wheels in motion for her future by taking a chance and betting on herself.
Much like four years ago, it occurred to me that her life was about to change again.
After countless hours of hard work, preparation, and applications, our girl was about to embark on one of the most significant growth journeys of her life. And I couldn’t be more excited for her.
Of course, none of this would have been possible had she not decided to swing for the fences, putting herself out there.
Sadly, as adults, we often get to a point in our careers where we stop pushing ourselves. Instead, we plateau and settle for less, incorrectly believing our time for growth has passed and that it’s too late.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Zig Ziglar famously said:
There are three Cs in life: choice, chance, and change. You must make a choice to take a chance, or your life will never change.
If you’d like to make career progress (and really, who doesn’t want that?), let’s break down each of those three elements:
Choice is all about shifting your mindset. It can be tempting to ride that wave of familiarity, especially if everything in your career is going well. But at some point—and maybe you’ve already experienced it—you’ll decide that good isn’t good enough. Perhaps you have a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you something needs to give. You want something more, something different, something new, even if you’re unsure what that is.
Rather than feel guilty about this, it’s helpful to think about change in positive terms. When you make a conscious choice to do something, you’re taking the first step toward growth. Action is empowering and contagious; inaction breeds stagnation.
Have you been hemming and hawing about taking a leap of faith? Harboring some fear about the unknown is understandable, but don’t let it paralyze you. Challenging yourself to leave your comfort zone helps you stretch your wings and gain new skills, experience, and confidence. You could:
Muster up your courage to take on that challenging new assignment
Volunteer to lead a lunch and learn for your department
Offer to put together (or deliver) that new business pitch for your boss
Still unsure about taking a chance? Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. As hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Change sometimes gets a bad rap because it’s often viewed as a disruptor. When one thing changes, others usually follow suit. But if you flip that around, you’ll see that change is the antithesis of the status quo. Change shakes things up and breathes new life into old methods and routines. We’re forced to get out of ruts we may not know we’ve been in, to view things differently with a fresh perspective. It’s about envisioning what’s possible, not just what is.
That said, change requires a degree of focus and intentionality. If you’re seeking a true transformation, clarity is key. When you know what you want, you’ll better be able to map out a plan to get it. And when you can articulate it, you can enlist the help of others to achieve it.
Here’s the thing about change: if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
And it’s not too late.
Remember, it starts with a choice; choose wisely.
And speaking of choices…
Between the pandemic and The Great Resignation, many are considering professional pivots and making career moves.
And with those changes comes the closing of one chapter and the opening of another.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or choosing to take a chance to change, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
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*This may be a long shot, but I’m making a choice (see what I did there?) to put this out there on the chance that one of our Illuminate Me tribe members is or knows someone who has inroads to London-based NGOs and would be willing to chat with my daughter. If so, please contact me so I can connect you with her
A little more about her: She did her study abroad program in London last fall while interning at Afghan Aid, which reconfirmed her desire to live and work abroad in a large, international city in a role affecting positive change. She’s about to graduate with a double major in International Relations and Romance Languages (French and Italian) with a minor in Legal Studies. She’s an intelligent, compassionate young woman who’s all about social justice and helping make the world a better place by advocating for marginalized people.