Throughout my career, I have had opportunities to move in a direction that I thought was best for my career. I always carefully consider moves that I make in my career and make no decision until I am certain that the move makes sense and will set me up for better opportunities down the road. However, I have still made some mistakes along the way. They say God laughs at our plans. We each make decisions based upon the information at hand and we can only know so much about a situation. I hope to share some advice in this post that will help those who are still making moves in their career and help those who are navigating the uncertain paths of their careers. The first thing you must know is that you will make mistakes along the way. Not every door is open because it is best for you, and not every closed door means that you have missed an opportunity.
I remember one of my first career moves in 2002. I was interested into moving into IT, and I had two children and a wife at home that I was supporting. I found a local computer repair shop in the town where I lived who was looking for a bench technician. I loved working on computers and I saw this as a great stepping stone. I had a friend working for the company who was a field technician and spent his day on the road within the tri-county area installing computers and networks. The company appeared to be well run and successful. I met with the owner and interviewed for the technician job. I pleaded my case, but the fact of the matter was that I had no relevant work experience. This was a common response I received from companies that I interviewed with and this day it hit me wrong and it frustrated me to no end. I told the owner that I wanted 3 months to prove myself. He agreed and offered to let me come on a probationary status during which I was required to gain a certification and show that I had the aptitude for the job.
The catch for me with this new job was that I had to take a significant cut in pay and go without benefits for the probationary period. This was difficult with a family to support. I ended up going on COBRA insurance, which basically meant that I had to pay the full premium for my insurance, including the portion my current employer was paying in order to continue my coverage with the current insurance company during this trial period. Thankfully, my always supportive wife was behind me 100% and was willing to make sacrifices for us to do what we felt was in our best interest in the long run. Ultimately, I discovered that the company was not well run and I met many challenges during my time there. However, I was also given an opportunity to gain some work experience and to learn from some talented individuals. This was extremely foundational to my career.
This was a door which opened for me and presented me with a choice. Ultimately, this was a good move for me. I have had many doors close as well. These are somewhat more difficult as they often appear to be great opportunities which are unreachable. In most cases, these were higher paying jobs with more clout or benefits. While I would like to say I always understood why these opportunities escaped me, I did not. I was angry and disappointed many times over the years. I went to interviews where I felt I performed well and had all the right qualifications, but the employer was simply not interested. This can be a huge blow to your ego. I have learned not to take it personally and to accept doors that close. Sometimes, the opportunities that seem to fit best, are just not the best for a given time or for a given person. While these circumstances can be frustrating, I have learned to look back and consider where I would be today if I had taken different paths. Now, I see that many of those roles and positions were closed because they would not have been best for me. Those closed doors which seemed so disappointing at the time would have led me down a different road that would not have been as fulfilling as the path I eventually took.
I hope that sharing my story helps others who are dealing with the same struggles today. We have to understand that there are choices we have to make and that our career will ultimately be impacted by these little decisions along the way. We do not always get our way, but that is ok. If we always got our way, we would miss out on opportunities that are actually best for us. Sometimes we are forced down a different road which helps us remain flexible and opens new paths. I recommend that you look back over the years and see how many doors have been closed that would not have been best for you, regardless of how great they appeared at the time. You may find that you are in a much better place now due to closed doors throughout the years. I would love to hear your stories and maybe some examples of doors that closed for you along the way.