Recognize the Dead End
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
Imagine yourself exactly where you are today ten years from now. You are in the same job or business and making the same pay. You know no more than you did ten years ago since your experience has been limited to the same year of experience repeated ten times. The only things you have to show for the last ten years are perhaps a few extra pounds around the midsection and some more gray hair. Although some people may see this as great job security, those who are focused on success and personal growth see this as ten years of wasted time. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to ensure, on a regular basis, that you are making progress in your life by recognizing the “dead end.”
Before we can do something about a dead end, we must learn to recognize one. Whether you are a business owner, employee, independent contractor, or unemployed (either voluntarily or involuntarily), you run the risk of being stuck at a dead end. Although every business and job has a future, it may not be the future you had in mind for yourself. A dead end is not characterized by income potential alone; it is also about personal growth (learning, experience, etc.), happiness, and contributions to society. For example, teaching in an elementary school, although income potential is certainly limited, can bring one tremendous wealth in the form of personal fulfillment and would not be considered a dead end. Conversely, working at a job you despise, with little chance of promotion and no personal satisfaction would be seen as a dead end.
Those who fail to recognize a dead end can spend years “stuck” at the dead end, only to one day look back and ask, “What happened?” One of the worst forms of regret is a wasted life.
It is equally important not to erroneously label your current situation as a dead end, as it is to recognize a dead end. Those who change vocations or directions in life solely for the pursuit of money, end up worsening their situation more times than not. Likewise, those who are impatient and determine a dead end by a “slow month” or a denial of a raise, end up making poor decisions based on their temporary situation.
So the question is, how does one recognize a dead end? Here are some suggestions.
- Analyze the market. Is your market expanding? Is demand increasing or decreasing? Is your organization getting an increasing or decreasing share? What do you think the future holds for the market? Where there are growing markets, there are usually increasing opportunities.
- Analyze the competition. Are more people entering the market? How does this affect market share? Does this appear to be a trend? “Flooded” markets are those with too much product and not enough demand, and usually a sign of a dead end.
- Analyze technology. Do you see technology rendering your business or your position obsolete? If so, it may be best to get out before you are forced out.
- What is your attitude? Are you burnt or burning out? Or do you remain motivated and positive in what you do? If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you cannot stay motivated and positive, get out.
- Visualize your future based on your beliefs, not on your hopes or wishes. Are you selling yourself a dream or is your prediction of your future based on your goals and actions? If you do not truly believe that you are on the right path to success, then you are at a dead end.
You can't really recognize a dead end unless you make a conscious effort. While there are millions of people who claim to be in “dead end jobs,” the majority of them do nothing about their situation except complain. If you are one of these people, ask yourself, “Is this really a dead end?” and consider the non-monetary benefits. If you do find yourself at a dead end, then take a leap of faith and do something about it. Remember that dreamers only dream, and successful people take action.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)