Remember Seinfeld? In one episode, George, currently unemployed and living with his parents, decides to do the opposite of whatever he’s thinking. As a result, he gets a beautiful girlfriend and his dream job with the Yankees. If you’re thinking of strategies to jumpstart your career or job search, remember George. Do the opposite. Mix it up. Make it different.
If there is something that dissatisfies you (e.g., your role at work), you cannot make it right without making it different. You need to do something different from what you’re doing now because whatever you’re currently doing is not giving you the results you want. While it’s tempting to wait for a new assignment, the only proactive thing you can do is effect the change yourself. This may mean a new project, a lateral transfer, a title change, or a new job altogether. For any of these, you have to decide what you want, know what’s available in the company and outside, and make a case to your boss or to prospective employers why you are the right person.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever you’ve done to this point has been bad. Oftentimes, we hit plateaus en route to our goals. So, while your current role may have satisfied your career at the time you accepted it, depending on where your career goals are now, you may have outgrown it. Think of weight loss plateaus, where you might need to introduce a different exercise program or change your eating habits to get to the next level. Similarly, in your career, by questioning and changing the routine you break through with different results.
Taking a different tactic can seem threatening. However, by mixing it up, we ensure that we do not fall into a rut. We force ourselves out of our blind spots. Our new tactic may feel counterintuitive, but it will take you somewhere different, and that different place might be better than where you were. So, if you find yourself dissatisfied but stymied on what to do, do something unexpected. Think of what could be different somehow. Pull a “George”.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is the co-founder of SixFigureStart a career coaching firm for Gen Y professionals and co-author of Vault.com's blog SixFigureStart On/Off Campus.