Have you ever been at the point in your career where the next best step is a hunch? It might be a good hunch, but there definitely isn’t a well worn path to follow. If so, congratulations on making it to this point in your career. This is the point when you get to expand beyond the conventional and start doing the work that you really enjoy —  even if you find yourself holding your breath as you walk through the fear.

I had a conversation with a client last week, and she she’s planning a big trip to make new client connections and build her position within her organization. While we discussed the strategy, she stopped and said she feels like she’s making it all up.

When we are creating business, we are improvising. We are building something from nothing. It can feel scary, and make us feel like we are out of our league, but that is what stretching and career growth is all about — expanding our skills to support our growing career.

What can you do to feel more comfortable with career improvisation?

Get Curious

Ask other people how they pushed beyond their knowledge and gained more clients and responsibility. They’ll tell you about their moments of uncertainty and how they forged ahead. Make it a point to normalize improvisation by asking people, especially mentors, how they handled situations in which they had to figure out the next step.

Enjoy the Freedom

Often when we get to this point in our career and business, we begin to feel oppressed by the fear. Stop and look at the other side of the coin. You have the freedom to choose what you do next. You get to decide where to go next. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Let’s be honest, most of us want this type of autonomy — we just need to be ready to accept the responsibility that goes along with it.

Be Creative

Try, try, and try again. Often we feel like making a mistake might be too risky, but honestly, making mistakes at this stage teaches you to find a creative solution. Look beyond the the reliable and start building new choices. I do that with my business all the time. My Career Strategy Cluster was an idea that pushed me to move outside of my comfort zone. I’m learning to be more resourceful. It’s exhilarating to step into something new.

I read this quote from an interview with Amanda Hesser and Merril Stubbs of Food 52, “If you told a story about your career, would it be interesting and surprising? If not, think about the path your carving. You spend a large part of your life working — make it a story you want to tell.”

That is what career improvisation is all about. You get the opportunity to carve your own path. Don’t let fear stop you from having the career you truly want. Know that at this level in your career the fear means you are doing the important work, work that creates personal and professional growth.

Trust the strength, smarts and talents that got you here.  And then lean into them to get you where you want to go.

A version of this post appeared originally on www.foodonourtable.com


jennifer mcclanahan flint food on our table on maybrooksAbout Jennifer: Jennifer McClanahan-Flint offers a variety of solutions for high-achieving, professional women faced with the new territory of transitioning into leadership positions in their careers, while simultaneously transitioning into motherhood.  Jennifer understands the struggles that working moms face every day because she is a working mom herself. Work with Jennifer: Learn more about Jennifer and how to work with her.


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