Are You a Kayak, Speed Boat, Frigate or Aircraft carrier?

 

Jenny was in her 50's when she became a client. She had been with her company for many years, enjoyed the people with whom she worked, but no longer enjoyed what she did; burnout was setting in. She knew she had to make a change, but quitting her job was not going to be that easy. Jenny and her husband were on a salary, and quitting her job would have upset their stability. Transitioning to a new career would take time, and she first had to figure out what her talents were and how best to use them. It took us about a year to figure out her talents and how best to use them, and another year to start the transition process. Jenny is on her way to becoming a Chick-Fil-A franchisee this year.

How a person transitions from one career to another will depend on where they are in life; it is not always a simple decision. To explain the transition, I use the analogy of a kayak, speed boat, frigate and aircraft carrier to explain the different stages from which career transitions are made.


THE KAYAK:

This represents a person in the very early stages of their life; nimble, agile, able to go with the flow of the current and turn on a dime. They have responsibility for only themselves, and are thus able to change direction easily. The only resistance they face is the current of peer pressure or family or social expectations. They can choose a life course that aligns with who they are. If they discover that they don’t like their course of life, they can easily change course with little risk.

Kayaks are usually under the age of 21, and still in college.

THE SPEED BOAT:

Typically a young adult 30 and under, not married, with a job and most likely living on their own. Their responsibilities revolve around them. Life is good and they are having fun. They are young and restless and eager to make a difference in life. When these folks realize they are going the wrong way, they are able to change direction quickly and their independence makes it easy for them to overcome any pressure or external expectations.

A speedboat, though fast and easy to maneuver, will still have a wider turn radius than the kayak. People here can change quickly but not as fast as someone just starting out.

THE FRIGATE:

This person usually 35 and above, has a lot of responsibilities: family, work, extended family, debt obligations like a mortgage, car notes, school fees, etc. Unless they are downsized, changing jobs does not and should not happen without careful planning. Jenny was a frigate, and knew this was not going to be an overnight process. A gentleman walked up to me at an event after hearing me speak, and said "you were talking about me; I don't like my job but I have a family, a house, kids in private school, two cars and a boat. I have a lot of bills that my job takes care of. What do I do?" Poor guy felt trapped. His transition after discovering his talents and right career, will most likely take longer than that of a speed boat.

THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER:

The aircraft carrier represents someone who, in addition to having all the responsibilities of the frigate, may be a very high level executive, partner or owner of a small to large company; they support more people through what they do. They don’t just work for a paycheck, others literally rely on their enterprise for a paycheck. The aircraft carrier also represents someone who has built a solid reputation in a particular field, and starting something new would be like starting from the beginning. It's hardest to transition here but still possible. I know a lady who owned two successful restaurants but didn't enjoy what she did. She couldn't just shut them down and fire her staff (she could, but that would have been heartbreaking.) Instead, she first figured out what she wanted to do with her life (trading stocks,) and then put the restaurants up for sale. It took a few years, and her employees kept their jobs.

All four sea vessels above can change course. The only difference is the time it takes each one to get on the right course. Here’s the point, regardless of where you are in life, when you realize that you need to alter course, fulfillment does not come when you finally arrive at your destination but rather when you start the process of changing direction. The aircraft carrier will take the longest time and will have the longest turn radius, but those on board will be thrilled to know that they are getting off the wrong course. Where you are in life and your responsibilities will determine how soon and how fast you can make the change. However, the feeling of joy and a sense of fulfillment comes when you know that you are finally heading in the right direction.

 

From the book "Finding Your Sweet Spot."

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Finding Your Sweet Spot
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