Experts tell Moneyish when pivoting to a new field might be the best option
Jay Z may soon crave a different state of mind.
The Grammy winner and businessman suggested in a wide-ranging interview that his rap career could be in its waning days. “I think that rap in particular is a young man’s sport, that I’ll move out of that white-hot space,” the 47-year-old told New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet. “Rap is about the gift of discovery. The white-hot space is when it’s fresh and new, and it’s like, this is the hottest song ever. I mean I pushed the window … I stretched it. Oh, I stood in that window a really long time. But still, no, I don’t think people are looking to me as like, The Thing.”
Shawn Corey Carter would join a club of public figures who’ve either given up on a long-held dream or shifted trajectories altogether: Hillary Clinton in September said she was “done with being a candidate,” though she insisted she was “not done with politics, because I literally believe that our country’s future is at stake.” Kevin Jonas, after the Jonas Brothers disbanded in 2013, started his own construction company. Swedish tennis great Bjorn Borg in 1983 burned out and retired at 26, ultimately lending his name to a clothing brand. And Dan Lloyd, who played Jack Nicholson’s son in “The Shining,” struggled to land roles into his early teens before chasing a science career. He’s now a biology professor at a Louisville, Ky.-area community college.
Maybe repeated failure has knocked you down one too many times, or maybe you’ve come to hate the job you thought you’d love. We asked experts when it makes sense to quit — and how to proceed once you’ve decided to.
What questions should you ask yourself? Former Wall Street equity analyst Whitney Johnson, author of “Disrupt Yourself,” gave Moneyish four questions to determine whether you’re on the right career path:
1) “Am I playing where no one else is playing?” For example, you might find a company’s unmet needs and persuade them to create a position for you instead of vying for a LinkedIn job posting against 50 others.
2) “Am I playing to my strengths?” Johnson cites Mitt Romney’s struggle to seem empathetic next to the naturally empathetic Barack Obama.
3) “Is the work hard, but not debilitating?” The job should feel challenging but invigorating, Johnson said. One way to know you’re pursuing the wrong path is that you’re getting physically sick and your body is shutting down.
4) “Am I gaining momentum?” Think about whether you’re growing increasingly competent by whatever metrics matter to you.
What are the signs that you should quit? You should almost never give up after one failed opportunity, said Dorie Clark, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and New Hampshire communications director for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Maybe “the moment simply isn’t right” or there are factors beyond your control, Clark told Moneyish. But repeated rejection generally signals a pattern, she added: “It should at least prompt you to ask, ‘What’s going on here? Am I a bad fit for this? Am I not presenting myself the right way? Is it possible this just isn’t going to happen for me?’”
Muriel Anderson, a University at Buffalo professor and human resources expert, left her bank auditor job almost 20 years ago because the job of observing and reporting conflict didn’t align with her “highly positive” disposition. Other signs to split, she added, could include feeling your talents aren’t being valued, no longer seeing money as a motivator, constantly complaining or mistrusting your boss.
How do you decide? Experts agree feedback from trusted colleagues, friends and family is vital. “Their opinions can be critical, because you might be missing something,” Clark said. “There might be small changes you might make that could help you achieve your goal — or they might tell you, ‘Look, the system is stacked against you. You would be far more likely to succeed in a different environment.’” American Counseling Association president Gerard Lawson, understandably, recommends counseling to help strike a balance between your skills and passions.
How do you reinvent yourself? Clark, author of the book “Reinventing You,” says you should envision your current and desired professions as a Venn diagram. “If you have two completely separate circles, it’s often very hard to bridge that gap and make that jump because a) you may not have the skill set developed for it, and b) people are often confused,” she said. “They say, ‘Well, you were in finance. What are you doing being a photographer?’” So think of how the two circles might overlap: Becoming an investor in a photography startup could help you gain connections and insight into the industry, Clark said, allowing you to make a more credible transition down the road.
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