A mariner’s approach to career navigation

mm Bill Pace

Sometimes it’s helpful to hear what others have gone through as they navigate their careers. There’s no single right answer or approach. We each have unique needs and different opportunities. Despite these differences, “case studies” can be instructive, maybe even inspirational.

I’ve lived around water for most of my life, whether on the crystal clear lakes of the Sierra Nevada, the beautiful coasts of California and New England, or the spectacular Sydney Harbor in Australia. I never can get enough of being near or on the water.

My favorite way to engage with H2O is on a sailboat. And the best way to be on a sailboat is to race. Racing a sailboat forces you to really learn to handle the boat, to understand how wind, waves, and currents affect the boat’s speed and progress, and how other crafts (and the people on them) can change your decisions. All of this contribute to how you do in a race.

Why am I telling you all this? Because navigating a watercraft, especially a sailboat in a race, is a great analogy for your career. You don’t have total control over the outcomes due to the myriad of outside forces at play, but you can become a good sailor, maybe even a great one, if you take the time to learn.

I’m not suggesting that you need to view your career as a form of competition (although some would argue that’s true). It’s just that being proactive results in better outcomes than being passive or reactive.

That’s why we at ClearlyNext endorse the concept of “career navigation for life”. We believe that having a great career is a lifetime endeavor that you can learn to do well and be happier and more fulfilled as a consequence.

Bill Pace is Managing Director of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >