When things do not go as planned you should always have a backup plan. Life throws curveballs, you will be caught off guard at times by the decisions that others make. And the worst thing you can do is to be so surprised that you are out of options. You will be a duck, dead in the water, pigeon-holed. Do not feel trapped; do not get stuck in the middle. You should be building networks all along. Do not take anything for granted. I have seen it happen too many times to realize that you do not put all your eggs in one basket.
Employees who are deemed high-potential and seem the logical choice for succession when the next level role opens up stop networking, discontinue having their career conversations and assume that role is theirs. Only then, something funny happens. The role changes, new leadership is brought in, or any numbers of variables change the assumed outcome and you are left out cold, stuck in the middle. You are told your time will come. So do you wait and hope or do you call on your network?
Truthfully, you do neither. You should have been tapped into your network all along. You should always be having conversations about what opportunities interest you and what might be a good fit for you. This way you have leverage, you get to be picky. You get to choose the option that is best suited for you and what interests you most. This is not to say you are constantly hunting for new work, you need to have patience, but you build a strong network for a reason. And you leverage it at the right time for the right reasons. You keep an eye on the horizon. You read the proverbial tea leaves and you cast your net far and wide. Most importantly, you NEVER turn down a job conversation.
When you start thinking about your career, you need to think about it with multiple paths, multiple options. Have an end goal in mind, but always be open to the journey and how you’re going to get there. Life is full of possibilities, it is up to you to figure out which one best suits you.