I love the different trajectories our careers can take throughout an entire lifetime. Usually it starts right after college when we enter the workforce. We may find ourselves starting out in an admin position of a big company before working our way up to larger roles. We may make lateral moves within a company believing that each role will give us the experience and qualifications necessary to bring us closer to our dream job. The same can be true in pursuing a career in the arts. We can easily find ourselves working as a waitress until we make our big break as an actress. Or someone who is an aspiring photographer can find themselves working as an assistant or shooting small unpaid gigs before they can have their dream job. Sometimes on the journey of becoming who we want to be and doing the work we love, there are some necessary steps we must take in order to get to the next level. It’s all part of our grand career plan. And these stepping stones help us create the career we most desire.
Stepping stone jobs can be vital to the evolution of your career. They provide the platform to spearhead your career and provide you with real world experience to better prepare you for the next level.
However, what happens when we become stuck in a pattern of jobs that are simply stepping stones for our career? When we spend a little bit more time than necessary before embarking on our dream career because we have convinced ourselves that we are still not ready for a larger role and more responsibility? How do we know when to take the leap and plunge into our dream career and soak up the pleasures of the unknown?
Thoughts of “I’m not experienced enough. I don’t know enough in that area to be good at it. This job is just a stepping stone but what I really want to do is …”. The litany of excuses are ongoing and can often keep us trapped in dead-end careers with the belief that we’re not yet equipped to have what we really want. The danger of stepping stone jobs are that they can tend to make us feel complacent and deceive us into thinking that we are moving closer to our dreams, when in actuality we are just standing still.
Pause for a moment and reflect on the last few jobs you’ve held. What about that job supported your dream career? How has that job led you closer to where you want to be? How ready do you feel to go to the next level?
Chances are you are more ready to leave that stepping stone job than you think.
Let your stepping stone job support you for as long as it needs to but not a minute more. The moment you feel stagnant and disengaged from your role it may be time to reevaluate and finally move onto the career you’ve been saving yourself for. Your dream job is waiting for you.
Keep me posted on how it goes firstname.lastname@example.org.