The truth is, most of us spend more time deciding which car to buy than investigating career decisions. (I’m the same way, most of the time.) There’s a good reason. We don’t have simple checklists for quantifiable attributes, such as “gas mileage” or “frequency of repair.” So we’re often in the position of making a decision about how to make the decision.
Based on my experience as a career changer and career consultant, I’ve put together some starting points in this free ebook. You can download here immediately at
Who hasn’t been there: working for a bad boss! The truth is, many bosses are bad simply because they haven’t acquired training or skills. Therefore chances are high you will work for a bad boss if your corporate career lasts long enough. Some companies even assess your long-term ability based on how well you can handle a bad boss.
Fast Company Expert Kevin Kruse wrote a terrific article: When You Work For A Jerk: A 6-Point Plan For Dealing With A Bad Boss. Read it here.
Kruse presents 6 career planning steps to take, which I will summarize in my own words with my own comments.
What are you contributing to the situation?
Career planning begins by distancing yourself from the situation. What are you contributing? Are you bringing baggage from previous jobs or even family history?
But don’t let anyone tell you, “It’s your fault.” You may be a misfit. Your industry or company may have a cultural style that’s not a good fit for you. For instance, academia typically has a loose management style with emphasis on unwritten rules.
Some people just can’t work for a boss, even after years of therapy and thousands of dollars invested in coaching. If you recognize yourself here, start taking courses in entrepreneurship and begin working with a coach to start your own business. You may not be a natural entrepreneur but chances are you’ll adapt better to business ownership than to life with a boss.
What’s really going on here?
Your boss’s unrealistic demands may reflect pressures from her own boss. Alternatively, she may be struggling with her own personal issues – a divorce, bereavement or illness. If your company culture allows her to bring her personal problems to the office, you may have to start looking – discreetly – for a new job.
Coach your boss.
Kruse’s article suggests saying something like, “About that item from a few weeks ago –
I’d be much more efficient with that new software for my computer. Did you want me to follow through? I can call Frank myself if you like.”
I often encourage my clients to draw on analogies to dog training. If you keep saying “yes” to unreasonable requests, you’ve trained your boss to keep asking. You probably can’t refuse a request outright but you can emphasize choices: “If I work on X, I will have to put Y on the back burner. What would you like me to do?”
A boss who’s not coachable is like a dog who can’t be trained. You learn to work around it or somebody has to find a new home.
Are you gaining something beyond a pay check?
If you’ve saving large sums of money so you can take time off later, gaining a marketable skill or paying dues for a big promotion. you should hang on if you’re not risking your sanity.
Will this situation go on forever?
My friend “Professor Bob” says, “You don’t like the dean? No problem. He’ll be gone in a year or two.”
Of course, in some situations, nobody moves. And that will probably include you! If your boss hasn’t moved on, where will you be? You’ve got to start searching for a new position, within the company or outside.
Sometimes you have to walk, no matter what.
Kruse emphasizes that sometimes you have to quit and you shouldn’t wait too long. “Great talent,” says Kruse, “always has options.” You have to be CEO of your career. When you stick with a bad boss for too long, you might actually be lowering your chances of succeeding elsewhere.
And if you’re bad boss is transforming your environment so much that you hate your job … check out this video:
Of course, your company may have rules about blogging related to your job or even your profession. Find out the rules and get legal advice from a qualified attorney if there’s any ambiguity. This career advice may need to be adjusted for your own situation.
(1) Use a blog to showcase your professional knowledge. You’ll be able to draw attention of prospective employers, colleagues and mentors. Be especially careful not to trespass on your own company’s policies when you choose this route.
(2) Use a blog to explore areas where you might start your own business, especially an online business. This strategy is the easiest way to test your own passion for a topic. If you find yourself eagerly posting over a few months, consider taking further steps. But if you’re bored after a post or two … well, time to move on.
(3) Use a blog to practice your writing skills. These days most of us write in short bursts. Some of us text so we don’t even use full complete words, let alone sentences. A blog keeps your writing skills strong because you might need them.
(4) Use a blog as a journal. Keep track of your progress for a job search, a difficult assignment or your day-to-day struggles. You can set up a private blog with access limited only to those who have a password. If you’re in a tough situation and you’re documenting a problem (again, I’m not a legal expert), a blog can be extremely valuable because you’ve got a record of dates and times.
To set up a secure blog, you would choose plug-ins that offer privacy. If you don’t know what a plug-in is, keep reading.
(5) Use a blog to explore extracurricular interests and provide an outlet for your creativity. Depending on your situation you might opt for a private blog or a membership blog limited to your bellow aficionados.
(6) Use a blog to enhance your skill set to become more marketable. You’ll end up learning a lot about the Internet and about resources as your blog grows over time.
(7) Use your blog to earn revenue, by promoting your own products or affiliate products. If you’ve got a wildly popular blog you can sell advertising. It’s not as easy as some career advice suggests but it’s not impossible either.
But to get started you’ve got to have a blog. I’m recommending WordPress because it’s the most widely used right now. That means it’s easy to get affordable support and training.
Recently I learned about an affordable way to get started in WordPress for just $17, with a set of training materials. You can download these materials and get started immediately. You will get enough information to launch your blog or blog website and more. You can have your blog up and running in a matter of minutes. Just click here:
When you come to a crossroads in your career, you know you have to make a decision. If you are a mid-life, mid-career professional, you know your decision can have long-term, serious consequences. Your decision can impact your finances and family as well as your ability to enjoy a career and lifestyle.
Therefore, it’s helpful to understand your decision style. What are you most likely to do when confronted with a challenging decision?
Today the question has become even more critical because often we make decisions about situations where we have no knowledge. In fact, sometimes there is no way to predict logically what will happen after our decision.
I’ve identified two kinds of decision styles: jumpers and clingers.
Faced with a cliff, jumpers will leap. They won’t always check for safety nets. They’ve landed on their feet before and expect to do so again.
Clingers hang on to their metaphorical rock. They agonize over questions like, “How will I know if I’ve made the right decision?”
Jumpers buy round trip tickets. Clingers go one way. Jumpers figure, “I’ll find a place to stay.” Clingers want hotel reservations.
Once you know your style you can make it work for you.
Jumpers are likely to take big actions that can lead to trouble or to big rewards. In a more treacherous environment, their challenge is to take smaller steps and take a few moments to plan even one small action.
A jumper’s greatest assets include willingness to take risks and almost always a high-energy approach to new projects. A clinger tends to have a solid track record, a reputation for steadiness and reliability, and planning skills.
Clingers tend to plan – and plan action – before taking action. They need to take a step – ANY step! – because they tend to analyze so much they never get around to taking action.
It’s especially important to recognize your style before you hire a coach. Many coaches like to encourage their clients to take action, but if you’re a jumper, you need someone to tell you to slow down. If you’re a clinger you’ll need someone who will walk you through the next steps – but beware of anyone who pushes you so enthusiastically you crash and vow never to do this again.
So … are you a jumper or a clinger? Comment below!
I almost didn’t read Brooklyn Zoo by Darcy Lockman . It was on the Vine list but the reviews were so negative I stayed away. Then I saw it on the library shelf and figured, “Why not?”
As it turns out, I recommend reading this book as a case study of a misfit. It’s a situation that makes sense when viewed as a career challenge rather than a personal flaw or problem. The title is unfortunate but authors rarely have control over the publisher’s title decision.
As other reviewers pointed out, the book doesn’t have a lot of action. In a memoir we generally like to see a hero’s journey. So I’d have liked to see how Darcy changed and grew as a result of this internship. She focuses a lot on specific patients, which isn’t especially interesting as she just sees them for a short time. She also focuses on her struggles with supervisors, which come across as self-absorbed. Somehow we expect a psychologist to take these things in stride.
I’d agree with the reviewers who pointed out that Darcy was ill-prepared for this internship. Her fiance got into a program that dovetailed nicely with his training. He may have had more going for him, such as his experience as a social worker in the Navy. But surely Darcy could have found a program that would be more appropriate to her goals.
If not, then I agree with the reviewer who pointed out that an internship is about getting your ticket punched on the way to becoming a professional. You learn what you can and then move on, trying not to annoy the supervisors too much.
That said, this memoir makes an excellent case study of what happens when you make a choice that lands you in a place you don’t belong. It can happen to anyone. I once accepted a visiting professor position (in my earlier career as an academic), after talking to a lot of people and getting lots of advice from people who were in a position to know the situation. Everyone assured me it would be good for my career.
I was a complete fish out of water. I just didn’t belong. My research orientation and my interests were different. I was female; there was a strong male bias. I had expected a very different type of role. And (as with Darcy) the person who hired me was no longer in charge when I arrived, and there was no way I could have anticipated this change.
The experience was frustrating (to put it mildly). I suspect Darcy came from a similar position. In her case, even if she knew intellectually that she would not fit, she might have felt she had no choice: she needed the internship and she may have had no options.
Darcy’s values would be related to her professional psychoanalytic orientation, as would her style. She would have had trouble communicating. And once branded as a misfit – even if nobody talks about it or even understands what’s going on – conflicts and communication misfires will happen. Misfits inevitably manage to say and do the wrong thing. My non-clinical studies of social psychology would suggest that what’s happening is deviance creation.
So how do you recognize when you’re a fish out of water and what can you do? One problem is that as a misfit, you’re often isolated from your support system; Darcy wasn’t able to keep seeing her own therapist, who in any case seemed to echo her views instead of helping her sort out her situation. Getting an objective view from someone who understands career trajectories would have saved Darcy a lot of grief; she’d have written a better book or perhaps no book at all.