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Sometimes you know it’s the perfect moment for the next right thing. Other times, somebody lets you know it’s time to move on.

Either way, most of us have had or will have the experience of moving on to a new position, even a new career, or a brand new business.

And certainly, a lot of people are having that experience now, as we round the corner into another year of dealing with the pandemic, the slow progress of vaccinations, and all the resulting economic ripples.

Plenty of talented people have seen a job evaporate or a business cave in; they’re forced to find something new.

And it’s easy to get stuck “in transition”—they’re having a hard time launching their next act. Maybe it’s tough even figuring out what their next act should be.

I know just how they feel.

When I got blown out at WLS after 18 years, I knew for sure I had to find another radio job. I didn’t know how to do anything else, for cryin’ out loud! I’d been in broadcasting since college. (As I often said, “I have no marketable skills.”)

It took nearly a year of unemployed-and-broke before I wound up with a great job as John Landecker’s side-chick at WJMK.

A couple years later, when that gig caved in, I took a different tack with some help from a life coach. Yes, I was dubious at first about this coaching thing. I shouldn’t have been.

First order of business? I stopped dismissing my considerable skills as “not marketable.” And started thinking about them in a new light.

You know that I work now with clients (and whole audiences) who need to talk about their work and its value in a more compelling way. They’re doing presentations, speaking up at meetings, or taking the stage themselves.

Some of them are selling a service or product. And some are selling themselves—because they’re searching for a job.

This is where chunking comes into play especially for folks in transition.

You might want to try it; here’s how it works, using my path as an example.

When I labeled my work “doing the news” or “reporting the traffic” or even “hosting a talk show”… there really wasn’t much of a market for those skills, at least not as performed by me.

That’s where I had to chunk down—or get more specific.

What I really did was gather information. And distill it. And write it up in a pithy, powerful way. And deliver it with some style. I asked probing questions to develop information beneath the surface. I worked on a team with a bunch of boys. And I kept my sense of humor in the process—so I worked well as part of an ensemble.

Now those are skills that could be used in so many non-radio contexts, right? When I looked at my work that way, and when I suggested that others take that view, a world of possibilities opened up.

At the same time I also chunked up, getting more general.

Instead of calling myself a talk show host or a newscaster or a morning show side-chick, I decided what I really was…was a performer.

It was true that until that moment, almost of my performing had happened on the radio. (I’m skipping over that ballet recital when I was in grade school. It was a disaster anyway.)

But why limit myself? It was clear that what I’d done in a studio for years, I could do in some other context.

Like, in front of an actual, live, in-the-room-with-me audience, for example. Which, of course is exactly what I do now. I never would have expected to wind up as a professional speaker and workshop facilitator. And, it’s a very natural outgrowth from my first career in broadcasting.

If you’re wondering what might be next for you, you might sit down and give these things some thought.

  • Get away from the label that goes with a job. You are definitely not your title.
  • Focus on the specific activities the job entails. Count all the details, even the seemingly insignificant. There you go, chunk down.
  • Then think bigger–that previous position you held is a subset of what? This is where you chunk up.

Chunking up and chunking down will help you set a new course, whether you’re emerging from years of devotion to child-rearing, a company that went kaput, or a job that was eliminated. It works, too, if you’re just feeling ready for a fresh start.

Sound like a plan?  Post a comment here.

How might you might chunk up and chunk down to develop your possibilities.