On a recent trip to an unfamiliar place, I programmed my car’s GPS for my destination. Somewhere along the way, I decided to make an unscheduled stop to see a particular site. When I did so, the voice for my GPS came on and said “route recalculation.” For some reason, that phrase, and the tone of the automated voice, always sounds like a reprimand. It seems to subliminally indicate that I had a goal, and that I shouldn’t have deviated from it. For just a moment, I had a pang of guilt and then I chastised myself for being so foolish. Who cares what a piece of equipment says?
Despite the GPS tone, I like the concept of route recalculation, particularly as it applies to career goals. We often begin our professional careers with an expectation, if not a crystal clear goal to become an artist or doctor or CEO or pilot or bestselling author. There also may be sub-goals like getting rich or famous or changing the world.
Our careers can take many routes to a desired goal. Sometimes it may even seem like we have gone way off course. For example, a woman goes to law school and finds that she dislikes litigation, but loves policy. That doesn’t mean that a law degree was a mistake. A knowledge of the law is a valuable asset in the policy arena. Perhaps a man majors in social work but feels drawn to police work. His social work training helps make him an excellent hostage negotiator. He eventually finds himself with a high level position within law enforcement.
On the other hand, many individuals feel that they have lost their way, that they will never get to the end point they were seeking in their careers. Perhaps the voice in their head, like the voice in the GPS, keeps sending negative messages, messages that hint at failure and broken dreams. If you find yourself in this situation, refuse to listen to that voice. Instead, remind yourself that routes—and careers—can go in various directions and still arrive at the desired destination. There are many ways to reach your career goals. You simply need to find a new road and keep going. Route recalculated.