Watch Out for What They Say

Watch Out for What They Say

There was an interesting report recently in Psychological Science online that offers a cautionary tale for Career Activists.  Apparently, whenever we start to hear happy talk from economists and politicians, we should start looking over our shoulder in the workplace.

The authors of the report looked at 99 articles in the Money section of USA Today from 2007-2009 and found that the more positive or optimistic the language of those quoted in the articles, the poorer the performance of the Dow Jones both one week and one month later.

The lesson to be learned here, according to the authors, is that a cultural environment of sunshine may cause many of us to coast when we should be peddling.  We get caught up in the moment’s good news, and forget that life goes on – which is not to say that we should expect bad news, but rather that we should acknowledge the variability of life.  And, be prepared.

I’m not, of course, suggesting that we would be better off living in a pessimistic environment.  Rather, I’m pointing out that one of the key principles of Career Activism is to see good news not as an invitation to relax, but as the perfect climate to work harder.  It may well be the best time to look for a new job with more challenge and growth potential, to explore moving your career in a different direction or toward a different goal, or even to consider that outside the box change that holds a bit more risk but also much more opportunity.

It is also the time to redouble your efforts to keep your core expertise at the state-of-the-art and to push your capabilities into adjacent areas that enable you to do more in more work situations.  And, it’s the perfect environment to build yout our network of contacts and reinforce your brand among our peers.

Think of these changes as your way of reinforcing your career, shoring it up for whatever may come next.  Hopefully, it will be more good news, but if it’s not – if the variability of life turns the economy in a negative direction – you will have taken the steps necessary to weather the storm in good shape.

Each of us must decide the next move based on our own position and tolerance for the unknown, but the one option we don’t have is to stand still.  Motion is the energy source of a successful career.  And, now that many economists and politicians are suggesting that the economy is looking up, we should begin assessing how best to move up with it.

Thanks for reading,
Peter