Just "Say When"...A priceless line from Doc Holliday in one of my favorite movies...Tombstone! Val Kilmer's simple command to Johnny Ringo when they meet up in a final duel. Even as his energy and life were fading away, Val still managed to maintain his sense of self and humor enough to mutter..."Just say when"...
When do you know what to do in life? How do you know WHEN to make a move? Maneuvering within your career can be a tricky and delicate little dance. Those of you "playing it safe" may wear the veil of security but in this ever changing economy and world of work there is little security. The security comes in the form of skill security. If you know who you truly are and what you are really good at then you are secure within yourself.
Knowing when to "say when" often comes with career maturity and self-awareness. Self-awareness comes only after exploration and vulnerability. Val Kilmer was breathing some of his last breaths and managed to keep his wits about himself long enough to help his friend, Wyatt Earp, at a very critical moment! When asked why he was helping Wyatt Earp, Doc responded, "Because Wyatt Earp is my friend"...The response from Ringo was "Heck, I have lots of friends"... Doc responded, "Well....I don't". Knowing when to help a friend (networking) and when to move in a particular direction is crucial. Timing is everything!
I have always told my students, "Career development is lifelong...the decisions that you make in your 20s may not work for you in your 30s and 40s...you will have to learn to re-evaluate them and make adjustments throughout your career". Being fluid in your career is easier when you are younger and have fewer responsibilities, such as mortgages and families. However, we all need to continuously evaluate our career path...even when it appears that we're traveling along the path just fine.
Like Val, sometimes when one is staring into the face of death they get more clarity. Realizing that you do not have your entire life to waste can be a precious gift. It can force you towards movement. It can give you the strength to face fears that you didn't even know you had. Val was not afraid to transition into death, he knew it was inevitable. It is for all of us. But, making your life be what you want it to be makes life worthwhile. It gives it meaning and that is fulfilling. Motivating! That can propel you to take the next step.
Do you feel the insecurity? That can be a good thing. Scary, sure...but sometimes necessary. Life will continue to go on until it ceases to exist. Your career path will continue its trajectory until something causes it to change. Don't you want to consciously craft what you want your legacy to be? What do you want on your epitaph? One exercise that career practitioners often do is to have clients project forward and think about their legacy. What do you want to be remembered for in your life? Is there an idea that you have? Perhaps mentoring and growing others is something that becomes important to you? How can you give your "best self" to the world? Think about it and then maybe you will be prepared to "say when".
Fun Disclaimer: The actors and producers of Tombstone had no influence on the writing of this article...Aside from the normal creative influences that movies have upon us. I hope it inspires you to take action, live your best life and get on with it!