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  • Cherise Bernard, PhD

4 Steps to Consider Before Making your next Career Decision

Deciding on the next move in your career can be daunting, especially in this age of comparisons and seemingly “overnight” successes. But here’s the big idea...no success is ever overnight. Behind every step in the right direction, there were most likely sleepless nights, moments of confusion or doubt, research, quiet moments of self-encouragement, and maybe a tear or two. But here’s the good news: eventually, the correct opportunity always presents itself. But how do you position yourself so that you’re ready when the opportunity arrives?

I believe that being in the right place at the right time to meet opportunities when they arise is dependent on the condition of your mindset. If your perspective is rigid and unmovable with regards to your career trajectory plan, then you won’t notice the amazing possibilities of a different path. In contrast, if your mindset is flexible, purpose-driven and rooted in creativity, you will notice the potential to learn in diverse opportunities. So before you begin submitting resumes to that one “type” of position, here are 4 steps to take first to ensure that you are exploring more avenues of success while still being authentic to yourself and your goals.

Identify what you would do without getting paid for it. Think about this seriously. Most likely, this thing is or is closely related to your purpose. In my experience, I’ve noticed that engaging with students and teaching is what I genuinely love to do, even for little or no financial gain. Once you’ve identified this fun fact about yourself (which will require self-reflection and time), find practical ways to incorporate it into your life. Volunteer. Do an internship. Network with professionals and high achievers in the field. Go to meet-ups or conferences. It’s important to realize that you can put yourself in the path for great opportunities on your own and not wait for things to show up on your doorstep (or in your inbox). And the great news is, eventually you will be paid for that thing you would do for free!

Set goals for yourself and crush them! This may sound cliche...but honestly, you advance to the next level by DOING. Your goals don’t need to be fancy. It can be as simple as “research MBA programs in the NYC area.” The point is that you need to crush the goal. Every single success that you experience will be a culmination of several smaller successes that you’ve committed to and have the daily discipline to execute. And then, for every 5 goals that you crush, reward yourself (personally, I like treating myself to a nice glass of wine after work or a pair of earrings 💅🏾 ). The more you do this, the more you will notice that things are moving forward in the right direction.

Do your research. At a recent seminar that I led on Career Pivoting, I spoke to the audience about the importance of examining the various steps in bringing a scientific discovery to the marketplace. Most people think about experiments in a laboratory as the main component of scientific innovation, but there is manufacturing, intellectual property law, compliance, thought leadership, quality control, patent protection...and the list goes on. This is exactly the type of information that you should know about the field that you are interested in! Research simply means going into the “weeds” of a topic that interests you so that you are informed of the complete picture. And then, to be really exceptional, get into the weeds of the weeds!

Manage Expectations but be Confident in Your Capabilities. Be mindful that in this process, rejection will occur. Some people won’t respond to your cold emails or requests for an informational interview. Even though a role was MADE for you, you may still receive that dreaded “we’ve decided to move forward with another candidate” phone call. You have permission to think about it briefly, but after that move forward! Rejection is a form of protection and you must believe, no matter what, in your capabilities! Your goal is to develop such a belief in yourself that rejection, whichever form it arrives, rolls off of your back. Believe me, this is clearly easier said than done. But once you've developed this perspective, you can maintain an ability to stay focused in spite of roadblocks.

If you're looking to make changes in your career, it's time to act. Be bold and take the first step 😄! And if you have a success story, visit the site and tell me about it!

©2018 by Cherise Bernard, PhD.