Our professional lives can be an extremely fulfilling part of our journeys through life, and they can also be fraught with obstacles. While obstacles and challenges are an essential part of building the skills you need to grow, sometimes they can feel insurmountable. This is true most of all when it comes to your career. It doesn’t help how finances seem to take priority when it comes to building the life we dream of. However, without financial stability, we aren’t able to meet our basic needs, such as housing, food, and so on.
For this reason, having an excellent approach towards obstacles is particularly important when it comes to professional decisions, career moves, and job hunting. And because of the stakes involved, it can often feel especially daunting. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. Here is how to embrace professional obstacles, wherever you are in your career life journey.
A step-by-step guide
Professional obstacles come in all shapes and sizes. From entering a new industry with little experience, to being forced to choose between two or more amazing opportunities, there are different challenges for everyone seeking new employment or furthering their career. With that said, what all professional obstacles have in common is the ideal way to go about embracing them.
Step 1: Getting started
I’m no stranger to the trials and tribulations of building a fruitful career. As a young person with cerebral palsy, I didn’t have the same work opportunities as many of my peers. Where they were able to get entry level jobs in restaurants and retail, I didn’t have that option. I needed a job where I could leverage critical thinking and intelligence rather than mobility and physical labour, and for that, I’d need an education.
I was able to start the process of getting educated as an accountant, and was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to start working as an accounting clerk at the same time. It was a demanding job that didn’t pay very much; I worked hard at it anyway. In the end, it was this dedication that allowed me to get a foothold in the accounting industry. After about two years of working as a clerk, I had the experience needed to move up into a new job with a higher salary, which provided me with more experience and opened up more opportunities for me. All the while, I was studying for my accounting program full-time.
Step 2: Dealing with setbacks
Sometimes we arrive at a challenging situation through no fault of our own. Think of everyone who was suddenly laid off due to the pandemic, or finding yourself job hunting at a time where employment opportunities seem scarce. These are difficult obstacles, and often, ones that couldn’t have been avoided by any actions you could have made.
Rather than lamenting on what could have been done differently, it’s crucial that you keep looking forward to what to do next. If you’re anything like me, your idea of a good life is one filled with freedom, choice, and fulfillment. These are some of the most common things people strive for, and for good reason. So, what happens when you arrive at an obstacle that stands between you and the life you’re working towards? Despite being well-liked and highly skilled at my new job, I was eventually laid off through no fault of my own. The company simply needed to cut back, and my non-essential position was the first to go.
For anyone who has been in a similar position, you know that the instinctive first response is worry and anxiety. You may be thinking: what if I don’t find another job? What kind of changes will I have to make in my life? What will happen next? I’d be lying if I said these thoughts never crossed my mind; it’s only human.
The best thing you can do in these situations is to let go. Have faith that things will work themselves out, and dedicate yourself to creating and taking advantage of every opportunity you can. Life sometimes has a way of giving us something different than what we expect; at the same time, it has a funny way of providing us with everything we need in one way or another. What’s most important is that you never allow yourself to get discouraged from doing what you can. Today might be the day that things will turn around for you, so make sure that you’re always ready to receive that gift when it does come.
Step 3: Making the most of the opportunities you’re given
After being laid off, I was without work for about six months. I managed to get by on employment insurance and good financial sense, though there were times I worried about my situation. However, an amazing opportunity came knocking at my door, and I was ready for it. A new position as a clerk at a major accounting firm, with a one-year contract to cover an employee’s maternity leave.
Even though the job was temporary, I happily accepted, and threw myself into the job so I could learn everything I could. It was well-paid, and provided excellent experience. Rather than keeping my eye on the door, I dedicated myself to the job as if it was my career, and quickly developed a mastery of my duties. I gave 100% effort to my job; I wanted to do my absolute best. My employers took notice, and eventually offered me the position permanently, despite that not being their intention at first.
I never would have been able to secure the stability I had at that job if I hadn’t been poised and ready to take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, I worked hard, and it paid off.
Step 4: Taking every opportunity to learn
I decided that rather than continuing to work at my current position, which was located in Winnipeg, I wanted to relocate to Vancouver. This was something that I had in mind for a while, and thanks to my hard work, I had the stability I needed to have the freedom to make it happen. I transferred branches at the company and started working in their Vancouver location. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as good a fit there as I was in Winnipeg. I was transferred from department to department, until finally being laid off just a year later. I was once again relying on my employment insurance to make ends meet.
Instead of reverting to anxiety and worry, I relied on what I had learned from my prior experience: something else would come along. In the end, I was right. I was offered another job as an accounting manager a few months later, it was another maternity leave coverage for a year which became permanent before the year was up. Because I was able to control my worry and instead remain focused on my goals, I was once again primed and ready to receive this opportunity.
Step 5: Continually challenging yourself
Despite doing an excellent job at my new position, I began to feel unfulfilled. I had been so effective at streamlining my responsibilities that my employers wanted to reduce my position to half-time. Instead of being complacent with this change, since after all, I loved working there, I decided to move on. I needed something with more challenge, and I would soon realize that this was essential for my growth and fulfillment in my career.
Why embracing obstacles helps
If we’re not being challenged, we’re not learning. And if we’re not learning, we’re not growing. That’s why it’s so important to continually push yourself towards obstacles and new challenges, rather than shying away from them. My experiences over the past few years in the professional world have taught me that although it’s great to dedicate yourself to your work, you should not remain in one place simply for the sake of convenience.
I continue to push myself with every task and always strive for a new challenge that pushes me to learn, to grow, and move ever-closer to my ultimate goals. It’s this philosophy that I embrace in my current profession as a spiritual life coach. I realized that my approach to professional obstacles wasn’t something that everyone could develop on their own. I realized I could help people by leveraging my own experiences. It has been a deeply fulfilling journey to have come full circle.
If you’re wondering about how to apply these ideas to your own professional life, and if it’s starting to make sense and you’re in need of a little extra help to put the pieces together, I can help. With my decades of combined experience in life and business coaching, I’m uniquely equipped to help people in all careers, industries, and lifestyles to succeed and flourish with even the toughest obstacles. If you’re ready to start a new chapter of growth in your professional life, don’t hesitate to contact me today.