Baby Stepping to a Career You Love

Hang in with me. This really is about your career – and career change.

But first, let me say I absolutely love the Bill Murray comedy What About Bob? In the film, the disarmingly charming but oh-so-neurotic Bob Wiley (Murray) meets up with stick-up-his-butt therapist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss). The basic plot revolves around Bob’s strong attachment to Dr. Marvin and his family. But there is also Dr. Marvin’s “groundbreaking” book called “Baby Steps”. While the laughs and sweetness of this film are only enhanced by the questionable real-life skills of Dr. Marvin, his book turns out to be a brilliant revelation for us all.

Basically, it tells us not to get overwhelmed by the immensity of a situation by taking on goals that seem too big at the moment. Instead, it tells us we can often get further by taking small steps toward our goals – baby steps.

Using baby steps, Bob manages to experience a lot of new things. (I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.) And in work coaching too, baby steps often play a major role.

Can’t stand your job, but the idea of leaving and finding a new one feels waaaay too big? Break it down into small manageable, attainable goals – baby steps. Start by just thinking about what you might want to do. Then maybe read about people who are doing those kinds of jobs. Maybe even find someone to talk to about it, just to start to think of it as a concrete possibility. Do you have the skills you need or do you need to take a class or two? Maybe a new degree? Ooops. TOO BIG??? Just take a breath and think about the baby steps needed to get there.

Please don’t get caught up in “I can’t” or “I’m not smart enough” or “it takes too long”, since 20 years from now you may be sitting in the same job with the same objections. Yet if you started working on career change now by taking baby steps, one after another, you’d have gotten to your dreams by that point. Actually, you’d probably have gotten to more than one dream once you got the hang of it! (Just watch out for those negative messages or entrenched behaviors that stop you in your tracks. You can learn to baby step around them too.)

Maybe an inspiring book or some blogs that talk about things you love can help get the juices flowing. You can even start your own blog! Or maybe you could take one of those self-assessment tests to help you see which of your skills and interests are strongest at the moment. (You can find them in career sections of most bookstores.) Maybe you want to volunteer somewhere to try something on for size. Or maybe you’ll want to enlist the help of a person to support you as you go toward your goal, someone who has faith in you and reminds you how good you are. You are talented you know. (-;

But maybe all you really need is a new resume and a good basic cover letter, which you tailor carefully and specifically to each potential employer. And maybe some practice giving good interviews and believing in yourself.

But this isn’t a post about each and every step you’d need to get to your dream job – or even a better job. (I’ll write more about that at another time.) This is mostly to remind you that when something feels too big to tackle, simply look for some tiny, tangible steps – things you can do now – that help get you started on your way.

The most important thing is to start to take action toward what you want. My guess is, if you just think of it as one step at a time and don’t let the immensity of the thing overwhelm you, you’ll get there just fine without me.

And as a first step, why not rent the film What About Bob? just for fun? No matter what’s going on in your life, there’s nothing like laughter (and a little perspective) to help you break out of a holding pattern and start to think creatively for yourself!

I wish you much luck baby stepping your way to a new career. (-;

Ronnie Ann


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

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