Learning from Bad Career Choices

Sometimes you simply make a bad career choice. In poor job markets with limited opportunities this can happen even more than once. This doesn’t mean that the job itself or the company that you work for were bad. This also does not mean that you are stupid. Sometimes the match was simply not good. Was it because of your boss, the company culture, the nature of the job, lack of development or toxic office atmosphere – it doesn’t really matter.

Having closed the chapter of my career that I can’t present with a Best Choice Golden Award (although it was highly successful judging by the number of promotions and raises), I was desperate to find good things about it in order to justify the time and energy spent. Yes, I was paid more than enough for what I did, but I’m simply not the type of person that is satisfied with just money. And it’s clear now that I will never be.

Having had enough time to think during the longer-than-usual summer break, not only did I ponder about myself and my situation, but also about this topic in general. And here is what I figured out – these are the things that you can learn from a bad career choice:

  • How to say NO. If it’s not good it has to end at one point. So, you will have to learn to say “It’s enough” and “No, I don’t want this anymore”. Leaving is much harder than expected even when you have all the right reasons to do it. It’s especially hard for men. We prefer to provoke a break-up via incident, and not say it loud and clear (something I’d learned during my career as a Cosmo publisher) But you have to learn how to do it.
  • How to leave after the first attempt at leaving. If you were so tempted to leave that you even found another option, then leave. One more round and one more attempt will just prolong the agony. A job is not a marriage. I would always fight to keep the marriage or relationship, but once you are ready to leave – just leave. And don’t look back.
  • How to use time to increase your value – although it’s not all about money, it’s important that you have enough of it or a few other options. Even in a mismatch situation you can learn new things (for example, I know how to work in SAP now,) and make yourself more attractive for future opportunities.
  • How to establish constructive relationships with people – colleagues, business partners, customers. Whatever your level of satisfaction with your current job is, it can be increased by establishing good relationships with people around you. I’m honored and genuinely touched whenever people that I worked with almost 10 years ago still call me for business or career advice or just beer.
  • How to trust your instincts more – this is not easy and I repeat – in job markets such as Serbian or SEE sometimes you ignore your instincts for an additional 500 EUR, but if it’s at all possible, listen to your heart as well when making the final choice.

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While figuring out what to do and turning a new leaf I tried to apply some of those pieces of advice, and so far, it’s working very well. But I can’t promise that I’ll be able to follow my advice every time. It’s a never-ending learning process.

Cheers to new beginnings! They are always exciting. Stressful but exciting. And if you apply what you’ve learned before, the stress level decreases quite fast and excitement grows even faster!

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