On Career Changes

Sometimes your career can come to a screeching halt in ways that you least expect. Or, at least, that one job that you had that was perfect in every way until something out of left field sidelined you completely.

And, of course, you never see it coming, right? Like this guy:


I’ve watched this .gif time and time and time again and I think he sees the parked car at the very last second, right? He definitely doesn’t have time to decelerate, I don’t think…

In many ways I found this to be a stark metaphor for a number of my job change-ups over the years. Everything was going along swimmingly and then suddenly, bam, out of nowhere something fundamental changes.

This isn’t about those small things or even difficult things that crop up when running and growing and building and organization. Rather, these are foundational shifts, tectonic changes that reroute existing thinking into a different category.

And, like most things, it’s not exactly instant (a’la that cyclist) – you were mindful to notice the small incremental changes that were coming, the way things were being discussed, the trajectory of the people and the organization’s slight pivots, the overall morale externally and internally as things hummed along.

But it can still feel as abrupt as anything else, can’t it? Sometimes it’s not your doing and sometimes it’s entirely up to you and you’re responsible for it. Perhaps it’s a combination of both.

In the worst of times you might feel as if your career is literally over. But what exactly is a “career”? The definition closest at hand was this: “An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress.

I think in the tech world the word “career” and “job” (or “occupation”) are vastly more decoupled. My so-called career could be classified, broadly-speaking, as a software and technology professional. My job(s) have been as distinct as they have been diverse in both scale, scope, geographic location, and more.

But my career hasn’t stalled and even the trajectory feels as if it’s pointed in the right direction. At times, though, it feels way off kilter and anything but planned (i.e. totally random) but it seems to be oscillating forward. I think the word “oscillate” is extremely relevant actually.

As we get closer to the end of the first half of the 2015 calendar year I can’t help but think upon the first half and marvel at what’s been accomplished. At the very same time I ponder the infinite mystery that is ahead of each one of us.

I can only imagine what time will bring and, you know, the things that we can predict will eventually end up being just as ambiguous as we knew them to be. That’s kind of exciting, isn’t it?