Burn Your Box

Is your career in a rut?  Is your business in a rut?  Are you in a rut?

If you're in this situation, you've probably been told "think outside the box," which basically means "get outside your current assumptions" to see new opportunities and solutions.

This is wrong.  You should not think outside the box career-wise.

You should get out of the box, set it on fire, and jump up and down on the ashes before sweeping them into the river to be washed out to sea forever.  You then need electroshock therapy to forget your box.  By the time "the box" has imprisoned you it's not something to get out of a little bit – it is something to DESTROY.

In fact, here's a guilty secrets for us geeky, neo-literati, otaku fan-types.  We are just as capable as anyone of being able to straightjacket our minds.  In fact, we're probably very good at it since we're use to using our imaginations, and we can dream up an amazing amount of ways to shackle ourselves.

So it's time to shake yourself up completely if you want out of that career rut.

Time to burn the box holding your dissatisfying career?  Then here's a few ways to immolate it:

  • Go to a job board and do a search for jobs, but not specifically ones for you.  Look at the huge list and see what appeals to you – that you never thought of.  Now, swallow your fear and apply for a few.
  • Ask yourself what careers you fantasized about as a child/youth.  Now, could you do them in your life?  Could you switch gears?
  • Talk to recruiters and placement people you know and ask them what else they think you could do.
  • Ask yourself what areas of the country/world you'd like to live in.  Do a job search there and ask friends/recruiters there what the job market is like.
  • If you're really gutsy (and unemployed) move in with some friends in an ideal area and do a job search.  Sleeping on the couch and doing an anything-goes search will be liberating.
  • Go to a bookstore and grab a book or magazine that covers a career area or interest you weren't interested in.  Thumb through it and see if it inspires you.  Keep this up until you buy something and get exposed
  • Start choosing Meetup.com groups to go to that vaguely appeal to you and learn about different career ideas.
  • Go sign up for a class you've wanted to take in anything.  Now.
  • Take your resume and list all your skills in it.  Add the ones you haven't listed.  Now pick ones you can use on a job that's NOT your current one.  Go research that job.
  • Talk to friends at companies you want to work for and ask them about positions you can do – but ones that aren't what you do now.
  • Go to college and get a new degree.

If you run your own business?  Here's some box-burners.

  • Ask yourself what's the least appropriate addition to your business – and then brainstorm until you decide how it could be part of it.  Why can't your computer consulting business also have it's own line of cookies?  (In fact, following on that radical thought, you might realize that promotional merch will re-energize your job and business).
  • Go to your best client and ask them what other services they may need – even unrelated to what you do.  See if you can deliver them.
  • Take a hobby and integrate it into your business to add more services.

Go.  I want the smell of burning boxes wafting up from liberated lives.  Now.

Steven Savage