Planning your next career move? Time to listen to Goethe!

Getting lined up for your next career step is a tricky task - you need to work at it AND hold your ambition lightly. It's all about getting Providence on board....

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Managing your career is a job in it’s own right that requires time and effort. I think Goethe got it right when he said: 

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation………….. the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve made careful plans, only to find that a different and more appealing option comes along. But I’m convinced the alternative would never have appeared if I’d just sat back patiently; I’m sure Providence waits to see if we’re determined before she gives us what we need.

And this is the perfect stance to take with your career. You have to show up and show willing. You have to commit – to decide what you want, work out a plan, take the actions you believe with get you there. But then hold your dream lightly, so you’ll hear when Providence moves to meet you. 

So some thoughts on making your commitment: 

No one else will get you there: accept this and you’re on your way. It’s tempting to believe that you just need to work hard and you’ll get ahead. It’s a sad reality that hard work is often just rewarded with more tasks. The moment you become a safe pair of hands your boss will want to hold onto you. This doesn’t mean slack off – you have to work hard and prove yourself - just don’t expect that to be enough. To secure promotion you have to know what you want, where you can get it and how you might get there. 

So start by defining an overall direction for your life and career, then work out what you want from the next five years. Go for broad brush strokes – too much detail at this point can limit you.  

Seek out a great people manager: your best advocate will be an Inspirational Manager who loves to see people thrive. They are tough to work for and very demanding, but they’ll also support you every step of the way. Because they’re so good, the best people want to work with them, which provides a wonderful snowball effect – what’s good just keeps getting better! 

Set out to identify your ideal manager and make clear that you want to work with them. If you can only find one in a different area of the business, then ask them to be your mentor. Your enthusiasm will be infectious, and I’ll be amazed if they don’t take you on or at least recommend someone else who would. Have someone like this on your side and Providence won’t have to work so hard. 

Be flexible: here’s where the Providence bit comes in – once you have your plan and you’re with a good people manager, then stay flexible and be open to suggestion. A strong career calls for breadth of experience, so if a good opportunity presents itself but is completely off plan, give it some thought. Your plan is a focus not an absolute and if you hold to it too tightly you’ll miss all manner of opportunities.  

Identify your core talent– to help you make the most of opportunities as they arise, stay in touch with your core talent. Once you’re clear what this is, then you have an instant measure of a new opportunity. The big question – will it use your core talent? If the answer is no, there’s a risk you’ll be miserable. If yes, then even if it’s right out of your comfort zone, you’ll get to grips with it and have a ball. 

 Go searching– prove yourself to be innovative and willing to take action. There are always leadership opportunities around these days: an idea for a new product, an interesting way to please your customer, a possible work around for that pesky IT problem…. Once you’re familiar with a company and a job, you’ll soon start seeing different ways to do things. Don’t get drawn into moaning about ‘them’ who don’t do anything, just get going yourself. Put together a plan for your idea and go to your manager. Offer to work on it yourself, even if it’s in your spare time, and come back with a detailed process. Make sure your manager is either excited by your idea or inspired by your commitment and energy. 

Do all this and Providence will move in your direction. Anyone who works hard and shows initiative is of interest in a good workplace. So make sure you are that person. You want your name to be on the lips of the next manager with an interesting project or promotion. 

It’s up to you whether you make that happens or not – that’s your commitment. And if you’ve been thorough enough, Providence will pop a good thing in your path. Then it’s up to you to be ready and up for an adventure. 

Has Providence moved for you? Tell us about it so others can learn from your experience. 

Post your questions in the comments section below, ask us on the Psychologies Facebook and Twitter page or email I’ll be posting regularly, answering your questions.

Judith Leary Joyce

Great Companies Consulting

In 1996 I made the shift into business, taking my knowledge of Gestalt Psychology into the realm of Executive Coaching, Facilitation and Leadership/ Management Development. In 2001 I worked on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list, then went on to write my first book Becoming an Employer of Choice which was followed by Inspirational Manager and The Psychology of Success. Since then I have worked with organisations across the sectors from large corporates through to young start ups, public sector and charities. Now it’s time to help you have a love affair with your work and get exactly what you want from your career. To find out more about my work and coaching go to