03/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Fear Factor

Fear. There, I said it. It's a four letter word that never seemed as peculiarly obscene as it does right now. It's hard to read the newspaper and want to leave your house in the morning, let alone want to hit the proverbial pavement and look for a new career. And that's what many folks are going to need to do. Not just find a new j-o-b, but a whole new direction, a different path. But if the road less traveled wasn't easy to go down when everyone was blindly optimistic, how do you even find that path now?

In his piece, "Plan B," in the Sunday NY Times February 8th, David Segal talks about this new reality. As in, what the heck do I do now? What do I do when it's not about Nirvana, it's about survival? For most of us, Plan A wasn't really all that much of a plan. While some people's childhood games of playing doctor actually turn into adult days performing brain surgery, the vast majority of us fall into our careers. We may have had a vague idea of life as a wall-street wizard, an advertising genius, a fighter pilot (well, ok, fighter pilots have to have a plan) but our actual job trajectory was more like Russian roulette than target practice. We rolled with the punches, we seized opportunities, we rode a wave, we paid our dues and found ourselves so far down a road it seemed stupid to change direction so we charged ahead.

Hope. Another four letter word that has gotten a lot of attention lately. In the world of work as in politics, it takes strength, tenacity, imagination and supportive constituents to win a job. Segal asks if there's a silver lining in this new world of the Plan B? I would say that while it's easy to say here's a chance to chart a new course, it's difficult to stay optimistic when we're being bombarded with so much bad news. What do we all have control over when the world around us seems to be spinning out of control? Our thoughts!

We all need to change our thinking. If you want a result that's different than your current reality, it starts with your thinking. If we succumb to the fear we will be paralyzed. There's too much at stake to allow that to happen. If Plan A is what happened to us on the way to a career that no longer exists, start by taking a hard look at your skills and talents and asking where else these attributes may be valued. Allow yourself to think about a new reality that's unchartered but not unfathomable.

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