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July 13, 2016
The Best Piece of Career Advice: Look Ahead
The world has changed a lot since I first joined the workforce. Back in the 1990s when I graduated college, you could find a decent entry-level job that would pay you enough money that you could afford a liveable apartment (without any roommates!), and still manage to go out on the weekend.
But times? They’ve changed. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what stage of your career you are in. Sometimes you have to make a move. And that’s where the best piece of career advice that I ever got comes in to play:
It’s better to be running towards something than to be running from something.
It’s pretty evocative advice, which is why it stuck with me over the years. If you’ve already reached a point where things are going downhill for you in your role — for whatever reason — you’re more liable to jump at the first job that comes your way, even though it may not be the right job. At that point, anything sounds better than what you’re doing. And while things may work out, they may not. Then you’re in a position where you have to run from something else.
When you’re running towards something, your eyes and mind and heart are open. You’re able to capitalize on the positive experience that you’re having and seize a new opportunity when it comes your way. Because you are not already under stress, you can more objectively assess the full scope of the role. Will it challenge you? Do you like the environment? Does it help you achieve the balance you seek? Can you do great work? Is there a new role you can craft for yourself within your existing organization that will give you more satisfaction so that you don’t need to look elsewhere?
In today’s market, the decision to make a career move is not always in your hands. But it’s important to remember that whether you are running from or towards something, at least you should be running forward. Even the less-than-ideal positions provide learning opportunities, which will benefit you when you can look back on them and understand what they are teaching you. If you can heed the advice and keep looking ahead towards what you want, you will have a more satisfying journey along your career path.

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Erica Martinez is a Group Planning Director for Havas Worldwide Tonic.
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