The Importance of Persistence for Career Change

The arc of persistence for career change includes your attitude, actions, and decisions when you reinvent or evolve your current role.

You groan and wonder why work is so hard.

As Jody Michael wrote in the foreword to my book,

Most people will suffer in this [career change] pursuit. Almost all will find the journey arduous and confusing over time, many will come to know hopelessness and depression. They will feel defeated and stuck.

Even if you stay the course or evolve in place, the road is not smooth. It can feel downright turbulent, like the time you traveled by air in a thunderstorm. You could swear you saw lightning hit the wing causing more concern.

But wait, it’s not hopeless!

Neve-give-up-graphic-with-keep-going-signWith varying degrees of determination and optimism you think:

  • I will succeed.
  • Never give up.
  • In my life, I want something more.
  • Hating my job is overwhelming.
  • There must be something different.
  • I’m worth more than this.

The special ingredients of this stubborn attitude include grit, perseverance, and a resolve to never give up.

With 10, 20, or 30 years in front of you and your future career path, you hope all will be well, once you figure how to manage career change with the steel gaze of a super hero.

Nothing can Take the Place of Persistence

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. —Calvin Coolidge

The obstacle course of discomfort precedes a career change.

Melinda Gates offers her best career advice,

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Seriously, this is a good and positive state of being that precedes action.

The scenario plays out like this.

You are passed over for another promotion in favor of the new guy with limited skills.

Or you come face to face with boredom. You find yourself counting minutes and hours, rather than using your brain power for working on something you actually care about.

Whether you choose a career change or it chooses you, you will switch from a stable and predictable work environment to an uncertain and unpredictable future and state of mind.


Career Path Challenges

Reinvention. Lane change. Transformation. Entrepreneurship. The altered states of your evolution in life and work.

These career paths require fierce determination. By the truckload!

Words like reinvention or entrepreneurship inspire excitement or terror, depending on your personal needs for stable employment or familiar experiences.

Or depending on your ability to handle risk. The arc of persistence is there for you as you fail, run out of money, or simply run out of commitment.

You crash. You figure out how to get back to it.

At first, you are exhilarated at the idea of freedom and the vision of a successful future.

That is, until you encounter a few roadblocks and high stakes decisions.

Unless you stick with the same set of skills in your career and possibly the same employer, you will experience the angst of venturing into the unknown.

And even if your career path has been certain to date, you will eventually find yourself at a crossroads. A right of passage for your work life.

Fear not, however, it’s not you; it’s the career journey. Lane changes to a new industry or a different size company can be rough terrain, riddled with potholes.

My Personal Career Change

My personal career change includes artist, designer, marketer, author, and career agility researcher. These days, my research topic is agility of all flavors in addition to delivering presentations, workshops, and consulting services.

While there is a thread that ties these skillsets and interests together, the personal growth required between roles was frequently painful.

Like that evening MBA program, while working full-time. It was a necessary requirement to shift from position of designer to marketing professional.

Or the time I owned a marketing communications business for nine years (physical location, staff, etc.) before earning the position of tech executive. The business was a nine-year roller coaster of contracts, business loans, long-term leases, staff recruitment, staff management, and full-on sales.

Who knew the business of design required significant back office operations and non-stop sales efforts? Regardless of satisfaction or milestones achieved in design and marketing, I wanted something more and different.

Yearning to make a difference in the world of work on an individual level, I wanted to increase positive work experiences and lessen the pain of career growth. I became a student in my new area of interest, conducting research, and creating career agility tools.

Tenacity, in spite of difficulty was required at multiple decision points.

And now, after finishing my five-year double duty existence juggling the roles of marketing consultant and career growth analyst, I officially made the leap to a new career lane. Although I’ve written a book about careers and how to respond to change, the growth curve for my role is steep.

My journey highlights challenging events. Yet, my personal career path is full of promise.

The mountain climb from marketing exec to author, career growth researcher, consultant, and trainer hovers at 10,000 feet, ready for the next ascent.

Examples of Fierce Determination

Sheryl Sandberg Designed Option B

Her book title, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, coauthored with psychologist Adam Grant, summarizes her attitude.

As a woman in Silicon Valley among the titans of tech, she worked her way through the management ranks.  She weathered corporate storms within Google and now as COO of Facebook.

Considering women hold only 11% of leadership positions in Silicon Valley, Sheryl’s focused ascent to tech leadership is evidence of of her resilience

As the title of her book suggests, she made it her mission to move beyond loss after the sudden death of her husband, Dave Goldberg.

Sheryl’s story

Walt Disney Persisted

Walt Disney’s path included newspaper artist, animator, and theme park visionary.

While an animator in his early career, he was fired from the Kansas city star. The editor felt Walt “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Imagine being criticized for what you thought was your strength!

Some of his projects failed and he ran out of money more than once, yet he continued to expand his thinking based on larger than life ideas. He believed in dreams.

Summary of Walt Disney career

Resilient Careerists

Business leaders like like Meg Whitman, Chris Gardner, Carly Fiorina, and Michael Bloomberg suffered from being fired from their jobs, yet continue to move mountains in their professions and good causes.

Other examples of people who recovered from being fired

In conclusion, persistence pays off.

What challenges define your personal career story?

Want to know more? If you are interested in the future of work, career development, the workplace, personal branding, workforce trends/ideas, agility, or how to cultivate happy profitable employees, subscribe to Marti’s 52 Ideas. For more details on career agility, check it out here.

Related articles:

How Resilience Can Define Make or Break Moments

Career Path: Fear, Uncertainty, and Change Walked into a Bar…


Marti Konstant
Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist with an agile mindset. She is a career growth analyst, author, speaker, personal brand architect, and founder of the Agile Careerist Project™. What started out as a quest to fine-tune her evolving career sparked a research project, a book, and workshops, where future of work and career agility are central themes.

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