Steve Jobs made the sage remark about our inability to connect the dots going forward.” I think of these wise words whenever a career counseling client faces uncertainty.
At my best, I embrace this philosophy and view life as an adventure. At my worst, I am in control mode and feel anxious when I don’t know how things will play out.
Both happened today as I was lost in the woods (literally). While I was lost, I thought of my clients finding their way through the wilderness (metaphorically).
I live in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. We live adjacent to several acres of forest. There are no trails. It really is the state of nature. These hikes are fantastic for the body and soul. But when I venture too far, I occasionally lose my way. I’m directionally challenged, probably because I think too much!
Today, I got lost. When I realized that I didn’t know how to get back to my house, I had a wonderful moment of clarity in connection with my career counseling clients. I realized how so many of my career counseling clients feel “lost” and then some are so stuck that they don’t move. I had an advantage. I had to keep moving. What was the alternative? So, I tried out different directions to see if I could find my bearings. I advise my career counseling clients to “move” and “try out” different possibilities. Staying stuck would not help them any more than it would me in this predicament.
There was a moment that I realized that if I didn’t find my way out soon that I would be late for my first appointment. In fifteen years of meetings, I can count on one hand how many times I have been late. I started to feel anxious since I did not know how the situation would play out. Fortunately, I had another moment of clarity: “this is how my clients feel when lost in their careers.”
I kept moving and then saw – in the distance – the “path” out of the woods. I had another metaphorical realization. The end goal was a long ways off. But as soon as I knew where I was heading I felt at peace. I know this same truth about the clients that I help towards their own career path. They can’t magically snap their fingers and put themselves in a new career any more than I could snap my fingers to transport out of the forest. But once they know they are headed in the right direction, they feel happy and peaceful. Only then can they connect the dots going backward.