The Ox symbolises honesty and hard work. If you’re in the middle of a career change and competing with someone to secure a new role, how can you maintain these values and utilise them to progress your career, whilst ensuring that you don’t come second to the Rat? Let’s take a look.
February 12th 2021, symbolises the start of the year of the Ox, the second of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said that the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but the Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, the Rat jumped down and landed ahead of the Ox. Thus, the Ox became the second animal.
It’s always useful in any context to make sure your aware of the facts that may be available, whether it be in having professional discourse, strategic planning, or career change management. So what better place to start than a quick context check.
The Ox is one of 12 horoscope animals which form the Chinese Zodiac, culminating in its 12 year cycle. The Ox is a symbol of hard work and honesty, traits that are extremely valued by employers and certainly good traits to build your own brand around.
The challenge however is that the Ox came 2nd because of the cunning of the Rat. In the job search game, 2nd place is as good as last. In an employer’s market which is currently the situation across the globe due to the effects of the ongoing pandemic, the best way to get an advantage over the other “animals” is to demonstrate hard work, remain positive, and also have a clear strategy, because without this, the emotional rollercoaster you are faced will mean that you may let your guard down and get outplayed by a Rat and therefore miss out on the opportunity that was destined to be yours.
One of my clients often says to me somewhat sarcastically, “Yay, more homework!”. But the truth is yes, there is always more homework when you are in the midst of a career change, both for me and for you.
There is always more research to be done, more searching to be done, more preparation that can be done. Every step forward gives you an additional x% in either your application or your interview and it is this due diligence which ensures you are most likely to succeed regardless of which Rats you are competing against.
People often don’t realise that a career search is one of the most important projects in their lives. If you don’t commit to it then you will never secure the opportunities that will enable you to fulfil your maximum potential. It’s disheartening when people take stock of their 30 or 40 year career and wonder what happened. It is because the hard work was provided in the way of the organisation without them thinking strategically about their own pathway. This is a clear path to unfulfillment.
People also say, “but I am too busy in my life or in my job to commit to all this hard work”. The key is about incremental progress. Be realistic, start early, take things in bite size chunks. Depending on your situation it may be that if you take small action now you could be interviewing in April and starting a new role in a great company in June, by only making consistent small steps forward. If you wait until you are ready then I can assure you that this time next year you will be having the same internal discourse in your mind about what could have been.
The interesting thing about the Ox is that there is no narrative available that suggests that the Ox was aware of the Rat. The narrative suggests that he/she stumbled along blissfully unaware and even gave the Rat a helping hand. This led to a huge fall due to a lack of strategy and an understanding that the Ox needed to be first in order to win.
To remain positive, set realistic expectations. I always ask clients at the outset. What are the factors that have an impact on your job change. Usually this as a starter comprises of three areas. What are your salary requirements? What are your geographic requirements? What are your timescale requirements? Depending on the answers to these key questions, you can build a roadmap accordingly and it is absolutely essential to reward the small successes as this builds momentum and can lead to positive outcomes. If you say that you want to start a job next week that pays double your current salary and you haven’t even started assessing the market, you are going to be disappointed. The other key element of remaining positive is to secure an accountability partner, or even better someone with skills that you can form a relationship with that wants YOU to succeed, that wants YOU to be the hero of your story. This can be a friend, a colleague, a family member or a professional, but whoever it is try to be as open and honest with them as possible as the honest discourse that you have will influence your mindset, and help keep a positive forward looking approach on the challenge that you are facing. A challenge shared is a challenge halved and when it comes to one of the most important challenges in your life, why not make it easier? When you zoom out on your life timeline, the answer becomes abundantly clear.
You’ve decided you want a big career change. You understand you need to come first in order to achieve it. Now is the time to plan your strategy, do your research, be aware of your external environment and competition, plan, take action and make sure to structure those small continually improving wins that will keep your mindset on track! It can then be guaranteed that if you do all of those things you will absolutely succeed and achieve your goals as opposed to doing nothing. If you do nothing the rat wins!