Mindful Career Change: Your Long-Term Executive Career Success versus Instant Gratification

Mindful Career Change: Your Long-Term Executive Career Success versus Instant Gratification

By its very nature, the term career reflects the series of jobs you hold over a period of time. In the cases of most executives, these positions are going to be linked by your industry, promotions, network, and drive. I posit that this vision for the long term will serve a savvy executive better than a scatter-shot approach of moving whimsically from position to position.

Your executive career path: Instant gratification or steady growth?

Your executive career path: Instant gratification or steady growth?

In an employment marketplace that allows you as an executive job seeker to focus on any goal you can imagine, are you going to be the rat in the Skinner box and focus on only short-term indulgence, or are you going to be “the millionaire next door”? The choice is yours, so choose a path that suits your long-term goals while creating essential career satisfaction.

B.F. Skinner’s Rat in the Box

We all recall the Skinner box with the rat–the rat presses a bar, and at various intervals the behavior produces a treat for the rat. The process ultimately trains the rat to press the bar frantically when the reward is delivered only infrequently. Your executive job search can do the same for you, if you are of the mindset that the next new career move could theoretically be better than the one you have now. In fact, sometimes it is better, but not always, which keeps you moving from job to job, from career target to career target. If this instability matched with excitement and inconsistent reward is exactly the type of stimulation your career path needs, then you can certainly make it happen. The downside, of course, is that eventually, the process will burn out, and you’ll only have a resume with a clear history of job hopping to support you when you decide to get serious about your career.

“The Millionaire Next Door”

On the other hand, you might have read The Millionaire Next Door. The author of this book posits that the unassuming millionaire drives an older car, dresses normally, spends little, and stays on the same career path–if not the same job–for decades. The successful executive in this scenario might not always be the flashiest on the outside, but he or she is going to be the solid, trustworthy, promotable leader on whom the executive board can always rely. The path to this type of success doesn’t necessarily have to be boring or staid, but it is likely to be established on a steady, gradual incline rather than a series of bumps, jiggles, and jumps. This executive is likely to have a solid resume with a number of related positions over the course of years to decades.

Mindful Career Change

But what if you have been on the slow and steadily rising for years to decades, and you are absolutely ready for a change? Will your network or a potential hiring executive see you as flighty and inconsistent? How can you manage a career change in industry, functional area, or, even harder, both? You absolutely can make this sort of switch–but perhaps only once or twice in your career. If you’re considering making a radical switch of industry or function, you might consider working with an expert executive career coach who can walk you through the process and help you avoid the many pitfalls and errors of executive career search while helping you transition in to the—long-term—career of your dreams.

Image courtesy of Stock.xchng / 7rains

P.S.: Here’s a link to buy the book on Amazon (affiliate link), if you’re interested: The Millionaire Next Door.