Want a great career? Stop waiting for perfect!

3 men holding up signs awarding 10 out of 10 - illustrating the idea of a perfect careerAs someone who’s changed career several times – and who now coaches others through transitons – I know all about waiting.

Waiting for clarity… waiting for certainty… waiting for courage. During my first career change, I spent a lot of time waiting…

Looking back, despite the stories I told both myself and others, the waiting did not help. It did not change things, inform my decision or move me anywhere. It kept me static, stuck… and increasingly frustrated and disappointed, with my situation and myself.

All that waiting was focussed on one thing: avoiding discomfort.

A pretty pointless and self-defeating approach to change, when you have to let go if you want to move forwards. And at times, that’s absolutely, inherently and inevitably uncomfortable.

Whether you’re looking to launch, or re-launch your career, this post’s for you. It’s about the traps I see every day – the traps I fell into, years ago – that keep us stuck and in limbo, when we could be, and want to be, pursuing our dreams.

Which of these ‘perfects’ are you waiting for?

1. Waiting for the perfect time

Timing’s important, right? You have plans for your career, but you’re hanging back because this just doesn’t feel like the right time. You’re getting there… but not now, not yet.

  • You’ve got a wedding coming up, so it’s not ideal timing – you’ll get to it later.
  • You’re moving house and that’s enough on your plate for now.
  • You’ll get there, but you need to commit time… time you don’t have yet.
  • You’ve given up smoking / got holidays planned / have a baby… bad timing.

Recognise this? What would the perfect time look like? What would it need – what ducks would need to line up – and when, exactly, is that going to happen? When will you really have all the time, energy and space you’re waiting for?

Make a time and commit to one small step. I promise you, perfect will never come.

2. Waiting to be perfectly ready

Not long ago, I was approached with a fantastic offer to guest lecture at a local university… It’s the kind of opportunity that comes along once in a blue moon, and which I’d have been crazy to turn down.

And yet, my first thought? I’m not sure I’m ready for that…

I’m on to myself these days (most of the time) so I pushed past my doubts and said Yes, before I could give No a chance to take hold.

Scary? Yes – growth often is. Regrets? None.

Every day that I coach, I hear a version of the ‘say no and stay safe’ mantra…

  • I’ll definitely start a business one day, but I’m not ready yet…
  • I want to change direction, but I’ll need more study before I’ll feel ready…
  • I’ve been offered a role, but I don’t have everything I need to do it yet…

In my experience, “not ready” = fear, plain and simple.

However long you wait, the fear will out-wait you; the time you spend waiting will not magically endow you with confidence, or erase your self-doubt. You can stay put, stay safe… or muster courage, step out of your comfort zone, and grow.

Think about it: You’ll only ever be perfectly ready for something once you’ve already mastered it. And where’s the growth in that?

3. Waiting for the perfect role

If you’re embarking on a new career journey, whether it’s your first or your fourth, there will come a time when you need to launch. You’ll need to enter the market, break into an industry and get that first job. And of course, you want it to be a good job; I’m right behind you on that.

Good isn’t a problem – but perfect is.

Maybe you’re a new graduate, hanging out for a role that will launch you, train you up and pay you top dollar – and all of this, within your ideal company. Maybe you’re changing career, but holding out for a senior role in your new occupation and industry, in a company within a 5 K radius of home…

We put our careers on permanent hold, while we hang out for perfect.

  • My lecturer lined up a job, but I’m waiting for something better.
  • I need to relaunch, yes, but I’m not going to compromise.
  • They’ve offered me an internal move, but it’s at a lower level…
  • Look, it’s a great opportunity, but it’s not quite 100%…

Certainly, have your standards and know your worth – I’m not advocating for taking the first thing that comes your way, without question. I am suggesting that you check in with yourself, and be honest with your motivations…

Are you waiting for a realistic prospect, or just keeping yourself out of the game?

If the job you’re considering will get you started and on your way – if it will grow your skills, networks and reputation, move you towards your goals and position you for your next career step – then it sounds like an opportunity to me.

Ask yourself: What will you gain – and what may pass you by – if you keep on waiting?

Career transition is daunting… and the rewards, more than worth it.

But if you’re waiting for perfect? You’ll be waiting forever.


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