by Sara Pacelle

Being a career advisor is the greatest job in the world.  It’s an honor and a pleasure to help others identify their own unique gifts and it’s so rewarding when they can focus those toward a meaningful career.  As a career advisor, my job is to help my clients understand themselves so they can set goals, create plans and act on them to reach those goals.  Nowadays, careers are more complicated than ever.  People change careers many times in their lifetimes.  Jobseekers have lots of obstacles to overcome in these economic times, but they also have tremendous choices and opportunities. 

Sometimes one’s career path can get stuck through a lack of imagination, a fear of failure, or even an inability to identify one’s true motivations and sources of energy. When that happens it’s important to take a step back to get a better self-understanding of one’s natural strengths and weaknesses, motivations, and potential areas for growth.

For inspiration in that process, it’s helpful to look to smart people for words of wisdom.  I can’t think of anyone smarter than Albert Einstein and it turns out that he would have made a pretty darn good career counselor if he had chosen that field.  I have an old poster of an Einstein quote that says, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  I’ve been looking at that poster for years, but it wasn’t until I considered it excellent career advice that I began thinking of Einstein as a great career advisor.  Let’s look at some of his quotes and see what wisdom we can glean from them.

 1. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.
Allow yourself to imagine and inspire greatness in your career.  Imagination lets us go beyond our knowledge, think outside the box, to seek possibilities and ways to reach our goals. Of course, we need knowledge to keep our imagination grounded, but without challenging ourselves and imagining success in our careers, we might never attain those goals we hope to meet.

2. Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Einstein encourages others to take risks and make mistakes in order to innovate.   In our careers we can become too timid or afraid of failure, especially in uncertain economic times.  Failure can be a powerful and important teacher if we remain conscious and learn from our mistakes.  Allowing ourselves the freedom to fail gives us unbridled opportunities to succeed.

3. Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
We need to be true to ourselves by pursuing careers that align with who we really are.  I love this quote because it rings true for a successful and meaningful career.  If you are doing something that you really love, you are never working, right? 

4. Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.
These encouraging words can be very liberating because they can give us perspective and increased self-confidence.   In the end, we are all human beings just trying to find fulfillment in this world, so why worry so much what about the small details or what others think of us?   It would be great to nail that interview or promotion, impress that boss or win that contract, but the world won’t stop on its axis if we don’t. People in the office who are relaxed and self-confident, even in the midst of criticism or
discouragement, have a positive energy that is infectious and fun to be around. 

5. Never lose a holy curiosity.
Being curious is a big part of being alive.  Go to lectures, read books, take classes, introduce yourself to a stranger… stay curious and learn new things.  Your career can only benefit from your interest in having new experiences.

6. A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.
Networking is all about building long-term mutually rewarding relationships with others.  And we all know the importance of
networking for our careers.  Building good relationships requires thinking of others’ needs.  If you only connect with others when you want something from them, they will drift away.  If you continuously nurture your relationships with others, they will be happy to help you when the time comes.  Be helpful, collaborate, share information and resources… your generosity will pay off in the long run.

7. Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Know when to reboot. 
If  you keep trying something and it just isn’t working, you may need to make a  change.  Have you been job-hunting for a while with limited results?  Perhaps you need to do something different, volunteer, go back to school, change locations, assess your natural strengths and weaknesses, and re-evaluate your goals.  Perhaps you should talk with a trusted friend or peer who can give you objective feedback or engage with a career advisor to develop a career plan.