How To Uncover Blind Spots When Mapping Your Career Path

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Do you ever read career advice, especially for new entrants into the job market, and feel like the important qualifiers, "Yes, but…" and "So…" are too often missing? For example, "Yes, do what you love. It may translate into money, but not always or it may take a long time. So what can you do to avoid going11-6-2011 12-31-51 PM broke...?"

Author Alexandra Levit agrees. In her thought-provoking new book Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success, she reintroduces the long-absent and important, "Yes, but…" and "So…" to some of today’s most common career beliefs.

Some of the blind spots that Levit highlights in her book include:

  • Yes, overnight success might happen to the rare person, BUT more likely it will take years of mastery and resilience. SO, here’s how to get started and to deal with inevitable setbacks.
  • Yes, employers recognize and hire you for your unique skills and experiences, BUT they also have an organization to run with rules and guidelines that have to be followed. SO, how do you function professionally and diplomatically in the workplace.
  • Yes, it’s important to perform in order to earn more money, BUT performance isn’t the only factor in determining pay. SO, learn to understand how performance, business realities, HR mandates, and office politics all impact how much you are paid.

And, as an accidental entrepreneur who knows how much work it takes to create, run and grow a successful business, this is my favorite:

  • Yes, leaving corporate America and starting your own business can be the right option for some people, BUT it’s harder than it looks and is not for everyone. SO, how can you evaluate the many often hidden benefits of working for someone else versus entrepreneurship?

I worry that without these well placed reality checks people both miss opportunities and undermine their long-term success. For me, it happened my sophomore year of college. My father responded to the news that I was going to be an English major and become a writer with, "Yes, but…you also want to move away from central Pennsylvania and live with your friends in New York City after graduation. So, you better find a major that will get you a job with a good starting salary and benefits." That led to my double major in Economics and English and the discovery that I also love business. And today I write books, articles, and blog posts about my work, creating more flexible work environments and helping people use that flexibility to manage their work and life balance.

I’ll confess that it felt good to show my father my first book contract and relish in a moment of, "Ha, I told you so" satisfaction. But then I had to admit to myself (and to him) that moving to New York after college, finding work that I love and being able to write about it wouldn’t have happened if my father hadn’t inserted a valid, albeit painful, dose of reality into my early career decisions. Hopefully, Levit’s book will do the same for others.

What were some of the helpful, and perhaps painful, "Yes, but…" and "So…" qualifiers that helped you along your career path?

For more from Alexandra Levit:

· Buy her book Blind Spots

· Connect with her on Twitter @alevit

· Friend her on Facebook

· Check out her blog

I also invite you to check out my Work+Life Fit blog and to connect with me on Twitter @caliyost.

[Image: Flickr user rappensuncle]

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