Lindsey Pollak is a New York Times bestselling author and is a globally respected career and workplace expert. Her latest book embraces the concept of “recalculating” as a welcome tool and mindset for success, rather than a hurdle, in your career.
Below, Lindsey shares 6 key insights from her new book, Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work (available now from Amazon). Listen to the audio version—read by Lindsey herself—in the Next Big Idea App.
1. We are all recalculators now.
When COVID-19 first emerged, I started to think about all the people thrown unexpectedly into career transitions because of the pandemic, lockdowns, and economic fallout. I kept imagining the situation as that moment when you’re driving a car and the road forks, or you make a wrong turn or miss an exit. If you’re using the GPS on your phone or another device, it will glitch for a few seconds, and then a robotic voice will say: “Recalculating.”
Because of the pandemic, I imagined every working adult on the planet in our cars, hearing this voice, all at the exact same time.
I thought about recent college grads trying to find their paths after college, and people laid off from longtime positions in “dying” industries who now needed to reinvent themselves in new fields. I thought about individuals launching entrepreneurial ventures or freelance careers, stay-at-home parents planning to reenter the workforce or forced to leave it. I thought about people who weren’t sure what they wanted to do, but COVID made them want some sort of change.
“The biggest impediment to your success as a recalculator is overthinking.”
Even if the pandemic did not lead you to a major transition, you’ve likely spent the past year making readjustments and pivots to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the world today. In short, we are all recalculators now.
As I started to think about what happens when a GPS is recalculating, I felt a growing sense of optimism. After all, when the navigation app is recalculating, it’s demonstrating that there are multiple ways to get wherever you want to go. It factors in how far you’ve come already—you are never starting from scratch. And, if you decide to change your destination entirely, it can get you there as well. When you recalculate, you open up infinite possibilities.
My conversations and research for the book also revealed that recalculating isn’t just a singular action at a particular moment in time, like deciding whether to turn right or left at a crossroads. Rather, the most successful and happy professionals described themselves as frequent and deliberate recalculators. Some of their recalculations were big and bold; others were small and nuanced. But they treated recalculation as a vital skill in their professional toolkits—one that they applied over and over again to help guide them to success in the good times and the challenging ones.
2. Embrace creativity.
A successful recalculation, at any stage of your life, requires you to try new things and burst out of your comfort zone. You’ll have to consider working in industries you may have disregarded (or had never heard of) before. You’ll need to use your imagination to brainstorm new ways to describe your skills and qualifications. You’ll be required to embrace new technologies and experiment with different methods of communication. You’ll be asked to expand your network to include people who think, look, and work differently from you.
“It’s your job to decide what compromises are okay to achieve your goals.”
If we’ve learned anything from the upheaval of a global pandemic, it’s that anything can happen and the world can change on a dime. Now is not the time to be rigid. Be relentlessly, unyieldingly creative.
3. Prioritize action.
Recalculation cannot take place only in your brain—you must take action. When in doubt, send an email. When you’re frustrated, call a friend or networking contact. When you’re on the fence, apply for the job, scholarship, or business loan. The biggest impediment to your success as a recalculator is overthinking.
4. Control what you can.
I wish I could tell you how many résumés you’ll need to send to land your dream job. I would love to tell you the exact date when economic conditions will be ideal for launching a new business. I dream about giving you the single salary negotiation tip that will guarantee you the highest number possible. Of course, all of these wishes are impossible, because so much in life is out of our control. Control what you can, and do your best to let the rest go.
“There are always people, organizations, websites, social media feeds, books, and articles that are here to help and support you—all you have to do is ask.”
5. Know your non-negotiables.
There is a possibility that you’ll have to make some trade-offs as part of any recalculation. You might take a step back in seniority, or stop making income for a few months, or work in an industry you never imagined, or move back in with your parents or a roommate. None of this is inherently “bad” or “good,” “wrong” or “right.” But it is your job to decide what compromises are okay to achieve your goals.
6. Ask for help.
You are never alone in your current recalculation, or at any point in your career journey. There are always people, organizations, websites, social media feeds, books, and articles that are here to help and support you—all you have to do is ask. Don’t know what salary request is appropriate in a particular industry? Ask. Don’t know how to tie a tie for your job interview? Ask. Don’t know what Slack is? Ask. You know when people say, “Don’t hesitate to ask?” Don’t. Ask early, ask often, ask forever.
To listen to the audio version read by Lindsey Pollak, download the Next Big Idea App today: