2 Aug 2023

The Resilient Generalist: Navigating Uncertainty and Embracing Change

We dive into: The 4 Archetypes of a Generalist, a framework for squiggly career progression, I'll then spin these into real-world examples of what a *delightful* generalist career flow could look like

And then... a pinch of spice 🌶️ I'll be busting the myth that generalists can't reach mastery

The Resilient Generalist: Navigating Uncertainty and Embracing Change

Be a Generalist, they said.

Enjoy a lifetime, filled with possibilities, adventure, and sweet, sweet splendor, they said. Oh, how wonderful it is to be a Generalist!!! Until it isn't.

Enter the dreaded Zone of Unknown - the inevitable moment of uncertainty in the generalist ride we call life where you feel stuck, paralyzed on how to move forward and questioning why you didn’t just become an accountant and enjoy the fruits of the stable, progressing, linear life 😮‍💨.

If you’re a Generalist, you likely experience the Zone of Unknown more than others. You’re an adventurer at heart who’s living life, like really living life; learning new skills, crafting new dreams, connecting with new people. All that action-packed living can’t help but lead you into new territories. And new territories are a wee bit scary, worrying, frustrating, risky, aren’t they?

Fret not, for who better to handle risky business than Generalists? Aside from Tom Cruise, no one!

A quick reminder on why you were built for times like these:

You embrace curiosity: Your sense of curiosity naturally leads you to unknown territories with enthusiasm. You've conquered the unknown with force before, and you can do it again!

You’re adaptable as heck: No one can handle a curveball like you. You’re quick on your feet, expansive in your thinking, and you've never met a box you couldn’t think outside of.

You’re a problem solver: When challenges arise, you get excited. Your mind is built for seeking innovative solutions to complex problems, connecting the dots, and finding a path through complexity - you smarty pants you!

You’re a master at learning: You can sift through your massive rolodex of experiences, skill sets, and knowledge to figure out new ways forward. You’re more than capable of learning new things, you’ve done it a million times before.

You’re a pivot pioneer: You’ve probably pivoted more times, and more gracefully, than Ross Gellar himself. Change has come to you before, nudging you into new life experiences and towards something grander - relish in that vision.

You’re not alone: You’ll always have someone to remind you of the above. You’re part of a community of Generalists who get you, are passionate about helping you, and wildly believe in you even when you may not feel it yet.

But even Generalists are human (but are they though?!). No matter how much positivity your pants can carry, how much knowledge is stuffed into that magnificent brain of yours, or how many cheerleaders you have in your corner, the truth is that uncertain times still really suck. They can leave us questioning every decision we’ve ever made, feeling insecure about our worth, and anxious that we’ll never figure it out.

So whether the Zone of the Unknown comes knocking at your door (or you go looking for it, because let’s be honest, it’s kinda the Generalist shtick), there are ways to embrace the ever-changing nature of your careers to develop resilience so you can move to calmer territories with ease - woosah.

Cultivate emotional resilience and a growth mindset to acknowledge the challenges while focusing on the potential for growth and success:

Meditate, Exercise, and Play: Disconnect from worry and get into a state of flow, where we tend to be the most present. This allows space for solutions, ideas, and inspiration to hit you just when you need them most.

Make failure a lesson, not an identity: Failing is something that we experience (I failed at something), it’s not who we are (I am a failure). Remind yourself of this powerful perspective and you’ll see it as a stepping stone to success.

Flow, don’t force: Honor your energy levels and work with them. Take on tough tasks and self-reflection when feeling inspired and give yourself grace during low-energy moments.

Experiment in different directions: Take small steps towards a few things that tickle your fancy and see where the momentum starts building. This is a totally acceptable and fun way to get closer to discovering your path forward.

Stay curious: Ask yourself “why might this be happening for me?” (not ‘to me’). This will put you into curiosity mode and point you to new perspectives.

Be like Rome: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a fulfilling career as a Generalist. Adopt a long-term perspective that values progress over perfection. Understand that growth may take time, and each step contributes to your journey.

Uncertainty matters too: Even though it’s uncomfortable, you may find that this period of uncertainty will one day help you relate to, and help, others going through this. You’re part of a powerful ripple effect you may not see yet.

Treat yo self: Remember to stop and smell the roses, treat yourself to something that makes you feel good and go for that extra scoop of ice cream with the sprinkles - sometimes a tiny moment of joy can change the trajectory of our day.

Realign with who you are, what you value, and what you want:

Daily Journal: Start your day with journaling. It allows your subconscious a chance to be heard as the words spill on to the page and be known. These words can bring moments of healing and guidance you didn’t know you needed.

Work on Your Why: It's important to ask what your why is — the main thing that gives you a strong sense of purpose and well-being and can realign you towards clarity. Here’s a quick way to get the convo going!

Create Your Values: Get clear on your personal values to provide clarity into next moves. It can be a great filtering tool used to assess new opportunities - does this new project align with most of my values? If yes, proceed!

Craft Your Story: If you’re part of the Generalist World, you know how important (and difficult) it is to craft and own your diverse career story. This is a great time to define and refine that story. Generalist World has you covered, check out their past workshops designed to get your story clarified in their Resource Hub.

Put yourself out there and lean into others for support, inspiration, and new opportunities:

Professional Career Coach: They’re like a coach meets cheerleader, so you get both the guidance to push you towards actionable steps and the support to get you feeling confident in yourself. Not to mention supercharged accountability.

Mentorship: Connect with professionals who have navigated uncertainty in their careers or are in places that you want to be in. Their insights and advice can provide guidance and inspiration that hits a chord.

Ask Your Network for Help: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. A small step in letting your network know you’re looking for new opportunities, connections, projects or a listening ear can lead to grand new adventures.

Join a Community: This is where magic happens. The obvious choice here is Generalist World, since most everyone has gone through the Zone of Unknown and can act as a valuable support system. When we’re feeling less than excited about the future, having that validation and inspiration from those who have been there, done that and are going through it can be transformational.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking - that’s a lot of tools! But just like the life of a Generalist, there is no one size fits all to dealing with the Zone of Unknown, so it’s important to lean into the things that resonate and inspire you (instead of drain you). Soak in the experience, experiment with different paths towards clarity and know that you are only one message away from a helping hand.

So, let's raise our virtual glasses to uncertainty and focus on the beautiful unfolding of the experience (versus the urgency for results), the gentle nudging of progression (versus the tyranny of perfection) and the savory taste of learning (versus the tangy taste of earning).

To the adventure that awaits, good company helping us along the way, and the unwritten chapters of our twisty lives! 🎉🥂

See you next week — Milly 👋🏾

About the author:

Meet Tameem — a proud crazy hat lady - she’s worn them all. Engineer, entrepreneur, designer, workshop facilitator, wellness warrior, athlete, writer, artist, manager and more.

When she’s not busy deciding which hat to wear, she runs TRYBE, a niche personal development and wellness community that focuses on changing mindsets, building new habits and finding accountability through connection. She also publishes a weekly newsletter called TRYBE Tales with bite-sized information, actionable tools a few laughs around different areas of wellness. She's also kinda obsessed with ice cream and coffee.

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Our content is brought free to you, courtesy of the Generalist World community memberships.

Our content is brought free to you, courtesy of the Generalist World community memberships.

Subscribe our newsletter to never miss an essay

Our content is brought free to you, courtesy of the Generalist World community memberships.