#157: Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work

I’m sure you’re familiar with that feeling you get when you’re driving along peacefully and, out of nowhere, your GPS will start shouting, “Recalculating!” Sometimes this is exactly what your career path feels like, as well. We may feel content with the way things are going, but then there’s a sudden need to take a detour and plot a career change.

My guest this week, Lindsey Pollak, illustrates this analogy perfectly. Lindsey is a career and workplace expert and a New York Times bestselling author with a new book titled “Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work”.

March is Women’s History Month, and all month long, Punk Rock HR is bringing you conversations with women who are rethinking the world of work. So sit back and enjoy my discussion with Lindsey about what it means to recalculate, useful steps you need to take when going through a career change, and why mindset is key.

Who Are the Recalculators?

As we continue to adjust to this new normal in our pandemic-influenced work lives, the idea of recalculating and having to suddenly figure out our next move can apply to any of us. In a way, we’ve all arrived at this moment in time where everything seemed fine, but then we were alerted that a detour was necessary.

“College students and recent grads are always the audience that I think about first, because graduating into [the pandemic] or being in college during this is a particular burden,” Lindsey says. The same is true for anyone who has been laid off, furloughed or is midcareer and simply wants to make a change. Lindsey mentions that this applies to entrepreneurs, as well, “We have seen the highest number of business starts in the past year because people are saying, ‘Wait a minute, this is a big wake-up call. I want to work for myself.’”

5 Rules for Committing to a Career Change

According to Lindsey, the GPS analogy is spot on because, when we receive those alerts while driving, we don’t change course in our navigation by starting over from the beginning. “It’s not like your car says, ‘All right, go back to your driveway and start over.’ You take what you’ve already done. It includes everything you’ve put in,” she says.

With this in mind, she provides a road map to follow while recalculating:

  1. Be more creative. Lindsey recommends expanding your possibilities by doing an assessment of your skills and learning to deploy them in creative ways.
  2. Prioritize action. “People spend way too much time in their heads, worrying and thinking,” she says.
  3. Control what you can. Focus on the things that are within your control, like applying to new jobs or writing a speech, and less on uncontrollable external situations.
  4. Know your non-negotiables. “What will you never do? What do you want to do? I think some people forget that there are some boundaries around that,” Lindsey reminds us.
  5. Ask for help. Lindsey mentions that when we try to do it all ourselves, the likelihood of failure is higher. She says to consult people who you look up to and “ask them for advice and guidance.”

Mindset Makes the Difference

Lindsey’s book “Recalculating” features inspirational stories from people who were able to recalculate their career paths and share what they learned along the way. Among the lessons that we can take from their experiences is the idea of just how much mindset matters. When searching for the next stage of our career, we can treat our perceived setbacks as assets and demonstrate our value. “It’s in your control to do that,” Lindsey says. “There’s no sort of solid truth about what’s good or bad in a job search. You get to project that.”

She tells us that mindset is important at every stage of your career, and it’s within your control how you approach the entire process of your career change. This is especially true these days, when the old rules about career paths have been rewritten. “It used to be that you had to work for 30 years and you had to be in the same industry,” she tells us. “So now when a 28-year-old can be the CEO of a big startup and a 70-year-old is an intern, all the rules are changed.” This situation is perfect for having the ability to choose your own destiny and recalculate your career to be exactly what you want it to be.

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