Awhile back, I started becoming frustrated with my condo in Philadelphia. The neighborhood was changing and so was the building. It didn’t feel like home.
But I didn’t consider moving. I thought my options were limited because I have pets and other considerations. When I talked to real estate agents, they agreed. It’s going to be tough, they said. Even the most experienced agents felt that way.
One day, I got in touch with a different real estate agent. He had a different take on things. He also knew a different part of the market and the city. We talked about options to move and I plan to close on a new home very soon.
What have I learned?
1 – You always have more options than you realize. When you feel trapped, it’s easy to overlook them.
2 – Don’t believe anyone who says you have no options, or only bad options.
3 – Keep talking to people — paid and unpaid — till you start getting new solutions.
Reframe the question to get out of Either/Or
Some things in life are truly binary. You’ve probably heard the jokes about being “just a little bit pregnant.” An old-fashioned light is on or off. At any given time, you’re married or single. Those are your only choices.
But when I work with clients on careers, I find it’s easy to get stuck when you assume you’ve got a yes/no or either/or decision. For example:
One client wondered, “Do I finish my degree or try to advance in my career?” After just one conversation, he realized he could do both…and the solution was closer than he realized.
Often clients ask, “Should I stay in my present job or look for something new?” Often you can target both goals if you have sufficient flexibility.
If you’d like to see how to stop the either/or dilemma, consider a Power Hour coaching call. Often that’s all we need to get your career path un-stuck and clear a path for you to find your dream career.
Parallel With Careers
Often people hire me for a consultation when they feel trapped. Recruiters will offer limited perspective; they’re loyal to their business owner clients, not to you, the job seeker. And they’re not equipped to help you think out of the box; in fact, they may have a conflict of interest if they do.
For instance, one client was very close to finishing a doctoral degree. He had a good job that didn’t require a Ph.D. and wasn’t sure whether he should quit his job and work to complete the degree requirements.
He felt trapped. If he quit his job, he’d be facing financial issues. If he stayed and dropped the degree, he’d be tossing away years of work, but he was beginning to believe the tradeoff would be worthwhile.
When we talked, he began to realize his decision didn’t have to be an either/or, but instead a yes/and. We talked about how he could make room in his schedule to write his dissertation without leaving his job or lowering the quality of his performance. Today he’s in a C-level job (the degree helped him stand out in his technical field) and he’s gained considerable satisfaction from using his degree to teach college-level courses in his field.
Another client felt trapped by a mediocre performance review. She didn’t want to leave her job but felt the ceiling close in on her. As she talked out her options, she realized that she was operating from a position of strength. She was known throughout the company, even to the CEO, as a rising star. We came up with a strategy for her to transfer to a new department, where she thrived. Her review never held her back.
Working with clients who feel stuck is one of the best parts of my role as a career consultant. Often my clients begin by feeling scared and trapped; by the end of the call, they begin to realize, “Hey, I’ve got options!”
Feeling stressed is the best way to kill off your creative problem-solving mojo. A consultation de-stresses and opens the doorway to new possibilities.
If you relate to this situation (or if you’re comfortable but want to set the stage for your next act), I’d love to work with you. Join my career program at
And if you have any questions, click here.