This is my son. He is an outdoor recreation instructor. Rock climbing for most of us, is not easy. It requires concentration, skill, physical strength and agility. Most of all it needs a great deal of determination. There is no point going rock climbing unless your goal is to get to the top; half way doesn’t cut it. At that point you haven’t achieved anything – it’s either all the way or stay on the ground. Climbing a rock face is tough. Every step takes focus. You are constantly problem solving to find the next firm foothold to move yourself one step closer to your goal, the top.
I am sure there have been many times when my son has got himself to a point where he doesn’t think he can go any further. There would be countless reasons not to continue, fatigue, injury, the weather, can’t see a way up, are just a few. But he comes back to give it a second go. He has a goal and he steadily works towards it.
The opposite situation I call ‘wheel spinning’. You might be familiar with the term. It’s when you don’t know which way to go and you seem to be going nowhere. A lot of time and energy is lost vacillating; you are not sure what you should do, so you do nothing. Not making a decision to go in any particular direction is in fact a decision and the decision is to do nothing. There is no goal here. There are often possibilities, but which one to follow is the unanswered question.
Where would you put yourself; are you striving forward or spinning your wheels?
It’s still really the start of the year. The school term has only just got under way. You might still be in the euphoria of the school break, slowing working your way out of holiday mode towards your weekly routine. Beyond this, have you worked out your next step? There is time for you to work out where you are heading, to set a goal and to make a plan.
What do you want to do? What’s your next step?
As a Career Strategist and Leadership Coach, I assist people to forge their career path, fill the gaps in their skill set and experience so they can be an attractive candidate for their next application. But you have to make the decision that you want to take the next step?
Gavin Freeman, Senior Psychologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, believes that we fall into one of two categories: those motivated to succeed and those motivated to avoid failure. Which type we are has a profound effect on our approach to challenges and our chances of success. The individual whose motivated to succeed will see any setback as a stepping stone to success. By contrast, those motivated to avoid failure, either won’t try hard, and they’ll have a built-in excuse, or they’ll put themselves in non-challenging situations where they are guaranteed success, happy to achieve mediocrity but not their full potential. Fear of failure can drive us to success, but it won’t sustain us in the long term. Fear is not a sustainable motivation.
If you are not sure what that next step for you is, that’s okay. You might have options, possibilities, choices. The important thing is to make the decision that there is a next step for you and get started on searching for it? Without that decision, you are back at wheel spinning. Once you made the decision that there is a next step, you can kick yourself out of wheel spinning and set yourself into ‘drive’ mode and start making a plan to move yourself closer to your goal.
My son, the rock climber, is determined to be a world class rock climber. That’s his goal. He works at that goal every week, taking one small step closer to his target. He knows what he wants and has a clear focus of the end goal.
Nothing worth doing is easy. I’m sure you have heard that before. We all want the quick fix, we are a society spoilt by instant gratification. However, careers aren’t based on a quick fix. Careers are built, over time and through following a strategic path. Careers don’t come by being ‘tapped on the shoulder’. They come from being strategic; making a plan and working steadily towards the end goal. You need to be in it for the long haul, constantly taking steps towards your goal, every month, every week, sometimes even daily.
The important thing is to make the decision that there is a next step and then get on with it. Set your wheels in motion and get moving forward. Just make the decision that there is a next step, whatever that step may be. Is there a next step for you?
Nothing worth doing is easy. Just make the decision and get on with it.
I’m here to help, when you’re ready.
Janine Stratford, is a Leadership Coach and Career Strategist, working with teachers and leaders in schools across Australia and New Zealand. A former teacher and school leader, she is passionate about developing great leaders as role models for their schools and their students. You can find out more about Janine at www.coachingfocus.com.au