Swing Dancing and Careers

My first swing dance teacher said that learning a relatively newer form of swing dancing–east-coast swing– was great for the short term, great for instant gratification.  A great place to start dancing because you could see real results pretty quickly.  You’d be out there on the floor, spinning and turning, going from closed to open positions.  A lot of fun, with a good amount of chance for growth.

But in the long run, she said, it was generally not fascinating and challenging enough if you really wanted to swing dance regularly for years.  It didn’t give you the same opportunities to play with the music, and didn’t have as many classic moves.

So do you just do east coast until you get bored?  Or do you go ahead and grit your teeth and go directly into lindy, knowing you may be pretty frustrated for quite a while on the dance floor?

Or maybe there’s a better way. You have 2 dance learning paths–you start learning east coast in order to get out on the dance floor with some success immediately, and well before that becomes less interesting, you also start learning lindy hop during practice time and classes.

So what does that have to do with careers?

Simple–many clients I see and people I talk with are stuck with the job equivalents of east coast dancing (or a “dance” they don’t like at all!) long after it has become unchallenging, predictable and lacking in opportunity to really show their stuff (grow, learn and express new skills and passions). They may well need help in finding some new moves for their east coast career options right now (translation: They need help with job issues or resumes, job interview skills, etc.), but for the long-term, they need to have something bigger in mind. They need a second set of career plans that let them dream big and work toward that dream now.

They may think they can’t do both, but in fact we do find ways for them to continue with their east coast dance for the short term AND be preparing themselves for lindy hop in the long term.  In other words, they can have two tracks going at once so that they don’t have to wake up one day ten years from now and realize their dream hasn’t happened and still seems 10 years away.

Tips for Long Term Career Action

Ask yourself what you can start doing this week to define, start testing out, or moving ahead with your ideal career even as you continue your current job or look for a new job similar to your last one.

  • First, figure out what you will want to be doing in 1, 5, or 10 years.  If you aren’t sure, check out some of the posts here for ways to do that, such as here and here.
  • If you already have some career ideas for the future:
    • Can you volunteer for an organization involved in the kind of work you’re interested in doing?
    • Can you do an informational interview with that shop owner who has a shop similar to what you’d like to do in a few years?
    • Can you find out about the educational options for becoming qualified in whatever field you’re interested in doing?
    • Are there internships you might get?
    • Are there books to read about doing your passion–photography, being an entrepreneur, a tour guide, a chef, a painter, a CEO of an engineering firm?

List all the things you can do over the next few months, and keep coming up with more steps until you are clear on what you want and have a general plan to achieve it.

In addition, blend your east coast (short term) and lindy plans too.  In other words, make sure what you are doing in the short-term also will help you in your long term plans by:-

  • Taking courses
  • Getting mentored
  • Learning about management styles
  • Gaining the skills you need
  • Making contacts.

By going along both paths, you can get instant success with your current work, make that help you for your bigger dream, and begin acting on that bigger dream now.   My clients get much more motivated with this than with just doing a new resume for a so-so job that they know isn’t their dream.  They are flat-out happier as they do that east coast swing dance while figuring out the steps for the lindy-hop future.

–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and get your career info bonus

© 2009 Leonard Lang. Feel free to reprint or pass on this article as long as you include the copyright notice and the hotlink to http://choosingacareerblog.com

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