Fall is the season of many things: pumpkin-flavored everything, holidays centered around overeating, and, as Priscilla Claman at Lifehacker points out, career regret. It’s easy to berate yourself for what might have been when your former colleagues are going back to school or taking advantage of new job postings to change gigs. So what can you do, besides sit around and think about what might have been?
Claman suggests a shift in thinking.
“The right approach is to replace the ‘should haves’ with ‘what ifs,'” she writes, suggesting a three-step process for turning your thoughts around.
1. Brainstorm. Choose positive, non-snarky friends and ask them to offer their perspective on your regrets. Their take might surprise you, since we’re rarely as kind to ourselves as we would be to valued friends.
2. Ask “what if” questions — lots of them. What if you did the same job, but for a different company? What if you moved into a different part of the same field? What if you taught the skills you’ve learned to others?
3. Look for ideas to act on. Now that you have a map of possibilities, look for a way to put those what-ifs into action.
Finally, if you want to figure out where you can go from your current job, give our GigZig tool a try. It’ll show you how to get from barista to software developer to CEO, or whatever path makes your heart sing.
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