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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Kent

DON’T SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS!





I recently saw a quote that really changed my whole perspective on careers, and well, life, really. It was from the book Attachments by Rainbow Powell (full transparency, I haven’t read the book). Powell writes, “So what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.” The simplicity of this advice is jarring and strangely familiar. When I thought about it I realized that this is exactly how I have unconsciously built my multi - career professional life so far! It’s not about making a major overhaul to our careers, or doing anything drastic to improve a difficult situation. It’s just a slow and steady approach, adding more good to our professional lives. Step by step. One good thing at a time. When I imagine that pile of good things, it feels like a relief. I used to feel like a jack of all trades with a bit of deep knowledge in a wide variety of random areas, and although I was able to see how they all connected, I didn’t think that anyone else would be able to appreciate how I could be valuable with my scattered expertise. But now I can see that pile of good things in another light. My curiosity and love of learning gave me a broad knowledge base. Inserting myself in a variety of venues (volunteering, clubs, classes) allowed me to put ideas into action and turned that knowledge base into a large skill set. My willingness to try new things, talk to new people, ignore the naysayers and ask for advice led to new opportunities that I never envisioned were mine for the taking. When I think of where I am in my career, I would never have known that this is how I would get here. I just kept following my desires and curiosity, one thing at a time and remained open to noticing, and vigilant in taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves on the way. Focusing on one simple thing at a time, to add to your “professional toolkit” might even be the exact way you solve the big problems in your professional life. Be intentional about adding one new thing each month, or week or season. Whatever cadence works for you is great, as long as you develop this habit. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Instead of trying to get an unsupportive manager to help you learn something, add a mentor from somewhere else.

  2. If changing your career feels like too much, take a course, talk to one person, attend one conference or read one book to learn about one new skill or industry or mission.

  3. Instead of finding a job that is mission aligned, volunteer somewhere that is aligned with the impact you want to make.

I'm not saying to drop having a big goal that involves a big change or to ignore the problems in your current professional life. But I am suggesting that it might just be easier, more fun and certainly less overwhelming, to start by adding something new rather than fixing or changing something. Give it a try and see where it takes you. I truly believe, based on my coaching hundreds of clients and on my own lived experience, looking outside your current environment will spark so many more new ideas and connections and a greater awareness than you will experience by fixing the problems in your current environment. This really makes sense. Think of it this way. It’s hard to read the label on the outside of a bottle when you are stuck inside the bottle. Solving all your own problems when you are caught in the drama of it all is like being stuck inside a bottle and trying to read the writing on the outside of the bottle from the inside. It’s backward and you are too close up to see the whole word or sentence. Often, having a look from outside the bottle allows you to see the writing easily and perfectly. FYI - this is why coaching is valuable, not because coaches are geniuses, but because we are on the outside of the bottle of your life. Just sayin…. By adding good things, one at a time, and gaining a fresh perspective, you may well end up enjoying yourself AND discovering the way to fix your problems!



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