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Taking a “Small Bet” with your Career Goals

You’re feeling stuck at work, everybody does at some point in their working lives. You know you should try to figure it all out but the big picture is……… well……just too big. You feel deep down what you want to be doing with your life, but the idea of changing jobs, (let alone a career) seems so overwhelming that it’s a hard thing to start. The solution; well think smaller – much much smaller and learn to take small bets with life goals and your career.

What are Small Bets?

Placing a small bet is not running off to the local bookies for your annual flutter on the Grand National. It’s about asking yourself, what are the small bets or small projects I can place right now to change things. Get you moving on something you are really interested in. Something that will not drastically shift your day-to-day working life presently, just give you a lift in a particular direction. Build confidence and belief in yourself that you are moving in a direction that helps take the stress off the big picture.

So its all about “if I try this for a few weeks or a couple months this could happen”. If nothing comes of it then at least you have learnt something, met new people or gained a new skill. You may want to try a new career in the area of helping people, for example, then volunteering might just a bet worth placing. Nothing to lose but your time and what’s more you know whether you like supporting people or not. At least then you can pursue the idea and cross it off your list.

Try something new

These small bets are all about trying something new that will involve utilising new or existing skills or perhaps testing an idea about something you are interested in. By planning your small bet you can state when you start, how you are going to do it and when it will finish. This way we get the career or personal development moving nicely by breaking the big goal down into its component parts.

Test small “bets” to see how they go.

Let’s try some examples. Perhaps you’ve occasionally had visions of writing a book on a topic that really interests you or passionate about. Before you hand your notice in at work, spend some time researching it. You could test out the main idea by writing a guest post for a friend’s blog. You could write an article for a more serious trade or industry publication. You could give a talk on the topic at a local networking event. You could lead a series of training seminars or webinars at your workplace on the topic and ask what people for feedback.

Repeat all these steps with other ideas you’re interested in as well. The volume of small bets is key. Running several small projects (small bets) at the same time you can see which are going to emerge and fly. The point here is to take the pressure off and being overwhelmed with a big goal such as career change. This method will help you achieve small goals, count things out or in and perhaps gain confidence by doing things differently.

Just have a go

The caveat to all this is not using these small bets as another way of procrastinating. It’s more than just reading, thinking, organising, planning, filing, emailing, or hoping this will be your job or career change silver bullet. You may just need to break cover and put something out there so that can get some feedback on it to see if your ideas fly.

Clearly, not everything will work. That’s the very nature of placing small bets. If one small bet appears to be doing well, you can double up on it with more time and resources. After all, if your new blog post goes viral and you become an internet sensation, you’ll be able to make a good case for writing that book. Therefore building some great career capital in another area that you can use for your benefit.


Even if none of your initial small bets takes off then at least you will have learnt new things. Whilst finding out more about what you like and what you don’t. The very reason for trying something new is how these small bets fit into your overall career strategy. Where do you want to be and how are you going to get there. That self-knowledge can inform your next career change projects and even more small bets. Even within your current job and career, we all know that a growth mindset and trying something new will take you off in a different direction. So have a go, place a couple of small bets on your career, you never know where it might lead?


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