This really is about your career goals — and career change. But first a slight detour to one of my favorite films, What About Bob?
It’s a Bill Murray comedy that uses the idea of taking small steps to help create change. In the film, the therapist, Dr. Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss), writes a “groundbreaking” book called “Baby Steps”. While the laughs and sweetness of this film are only enhanced by the questionable real-life skills of Dr. Marvin, his book turns out to be a wonderful revelation for us all.
Basically, it tells us not to let the immensity of a situation overwhelm us. Often, just thinking about goals that seem too big stops us in our tracks. But the book suggests we can get past any physical or (often more daunting) mental roadblocks by breaking down what feels BIG into smaller, manageable steps — baby steps.
Using baby steps, Bob manages to experience a lot of new things. (I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.) And in career goals too, baby steps can play a major role. Maybe even bridging the difference between a life of “I could have” vs a life of “I did it!”
Tackling your career goals the baby step way
Can’t stand your job, but the idea of leaving and finding a new one feels waaaay too big? Break it down into small manageable, attainable goals — baby steps. Start by just thinking about what you might want to do. Then maybe read about people who are doing those kinds of jobs.
Maybe even find someone to talk to about it. Just to start to think of it as a concrete possibility. Do you have the skills you need or do you need to take a class or two? Maybe a new degree? Oops. TOO BIG??? Just take a breath and think about the baby steps needed to get there.
Please don’t get caught up in “I can’t.” Or “I’m not smart enough.” Or “it takes too long.” If you do, 20 years from now you may be sitting in the very same job with the very same objections. If you start working on career change now by taking baby steps, by that point you’ll have gotten to your dreams.
Watch out for the negative self-talk!
Just watch out for those negative messages or entrenched behaviors that stop you in your tracks. But there’s good news. Once you become aware of them, you can learn to baby step around them too.
Maybe an inspiring book or some blogs that talk about things you love can help get the juices flowing. You can even start your own blog and use it to explore. Or you could take one of those self-assessment tests to help you see which of your skills and interests are strongest at the moment. (You can find them in career sections of most bookstores.)
Maybe you want to volunteer somewhere to try something on for size. Or maybe you’ll want to enlist the help of a person to support you as you go toward your goal. Someone who has faith in you. And reminds you how good you are. After all, you are talented — and deserve a chance to show it.
Just begin now — with action of any size
The most important thing is to start to take action toward what you want NOW. My guess is, if you just think of it as one step at a time — and don’t let the immensity of the whole thing overwhelm you — you’ll get there just fine without me.
And as a first step, why not rent the film What About Bob? Just for fun. No matter what’s going on in your life, there’s nothing like laughter (and a little perspective) to help you break out of a holding pattern. And start to think creatively for yourself!
I wish you much luck baby stepping your way to all your career goals. Even if it takes a while. And even if there are twists and turns you never expected. (There will be.) Odds are the trip alone will be well worth it. And just think of the movies and books you can write! 🙂
~ Ronnie Ann
[Original post updated in 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
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