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Episode #341 – Trading Purpose for the Illusion of Security in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #341 - Trading Purpose for the Illusion of Security in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

Caleb: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

Today, we will be discussing trading purpose for the illusion of security in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Welcome, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Caleb. As always, I am glad to be here with you.

Caleb: Stacy, this seems like a rather deep topic, although I feel as though we have touched upon this topic before on the podcast.

Stacy: Yes, we have, but perhaps not exactly like we are going to do so today. And the reason we are tackling it is because fear is such a big factor in people’s decisions—their decisions to do something and also their decisions to NOT do something. Fear sometimes gets in the way of people reaching their full potential, and that includes within their Animal Health or Veterinary career. And although there are multiple types of fear that exist, the only one I want to focus on today is the fear of loss.

Caleb: Stacy, when you talk about the “fear of loss,” what are you referring to exactly? How does this manifest in the professionals you place?

Stacy: Caleb, the fear of loss is a powerful force. It encompasses the fear of losing financial stability, losing one’s social standing, or losing professional credibility. For some of the individuals I work with and place, this fear manifests as an avoidance of risk. It can lead them to stay in positions where they are no longer growing or where they are not truly satisfied. The comfort of a known paycheck, the prestige associated with a long-held role, or even the predictability of a daily routine—these can all contribute to making decisions based on fear rather than aspiration.

Caleb: That is an insightful observation. Can you share how prevalent this issue is and perhaps how it is evolved given the current job market trends?

Stacy: Absolutely. With economic fluctuations and the evolving job landscape, particularly with the rise of automation and remote work, what felt secure yesterday may not feel secure tomorrow. Despite this, some people cling to their current roles out of fear. This has only increased with economic downturns or industries facing disruptions. The key here is recognizing that change is constant and that security in one’s Animal Health or Veterinary career often requires adaptability and sometimes embracing change rather than avoiding it.

Caleb: Moving to our next point, you have mentioned that many people trade their purpose for what you call the “illusion of security.” Can you elaborate on that concept?

Stacy: Sure, Caleb. The “illusion of security” is the mistaken belief that staying in a secure, well-paying job is inherently safer than pursuing a career aligned with one’s passions or purpose. This illusion is seductive because it promises ease and stability. However, the truth is that no job can offer complete security. Industries evolve, companies go through layoffs, and roles become obsolete. The risk of not following your passion is ending up in a role that feels unfulfilling or even becomes redundant.

Caleb: It sounds like a tough situation to be in. How do you guide someone who is realizing that they might be stuck in this illusion?

Stacy: It starts with helping them to identify what they truly value and what gives them a sense of purpose. From there, we look at potential career paths that align more closely with these values. This process can involve exploring new educational opportunities, seeking out mentors in their field of interest, or even starting side projects to build experience and confidence.

Caleb: Stacy, could you talk about the long-term impacts of this stifled growth on someone’s Animal Health or Veterinary career and overall well-being?

Stacy: Stifled growth can have several detrimental effects on both a professional and personal level. When someone remains in a stagnant role without learning new skills or challenging themselves, they risk becoming obsolete. Professionally, this means they might find it difficult to secure new positions or advance. On a personal level, this stagnation can lead to a significant decrease in job satisfaction, which often affects personal happiness and mental health.

Caleb: That is quite concerning. What would be the first steps for someone who feels they might be experiencing this stagnation?

Stacy: The first step is awareness—recognizing the signs of stagnation and admitting that change is necessary. From there, setting small, achievable goals can be a great way to start. It might be learning a new skill relevant to their field, attending workshops, or networking with others in the industry to explore new opportunities.

Caleb: Dealing with regret and resentment is tough. What strategies do you recommend for someone struggling with these feelings?

Stacy: Overcoming these feelings starts with acceptance and understanding that it is okay to have made the choices they did at the time, based upon the information and circumstances they had. Moving forward, it is about focusing on what can be controlled now. Setting new professional goals, possibly redefining the trajectory in their Animal Health or Veterinary career, and maybe even exploring counseling or coaching to work through these emotions. Mentorship is particularly powerful, as it helps not only in guiding them through their current challenges, but also in leveraging the mentor’s experience to avoid future pitfalls.

Caleb: And in terms of preventing these feelings from cropping up in the first place, what can people do?

Stacy: Prevention is all about proactive career management. Regular self-assessment is crucial—asking oneself if they are truly happy, if their work aligns with their personal goals, and if they are developing skills that will ensure continued employability. Staying engaged in industry trends and continuously learning are also key strategies to prevent feelings of regret and ensure ongoing fulfillment and security in one’s career path.

Caleb: What are some other consequences of trading purpose for the illusion of security in your Animal Health or Veterinary career?

Stacy: There are many other consequences, and the next three I want to focus on include the reality of missed opportunities, the profound impact on health and well-being, and the limitations it places on personal and professional impact. Starting with missed opportunities—when fear guides your career decisions, you’re likely to avoid taking chances or stepping out of your comfort zone. This risk aversion can mean missing out on roles that might offer greater satisfaction or opportunities for advancement simply because they come with an element of uncertainty.

Caleb: It is the classic “what if” scenario, isn’t it? What if that risk had been worth it?

Stacy: Exactly. And often, it’s not just about what you miss externally—new jobs or projects—but also internally. Personal growth often comes from challenging ourselves, from being in situations that test our limits and capabilities. Avoiding these challenges can lead to a very static career path where genuine growth is minimal.

Caleb: That stagnation can really take a toll. Speaking of which, how does this fear of loss affect one’s health and well-being?

Stacy: This is one of the more severe consequences of a fear-driven Animal Health or Veterinary career. When individuals are in misaligned jobs purely out of fear, it manifests in their mental and physical health. Chronic stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction at work can lead to serious health issues like depression, burnout, and even physical symptoms such as headaches or insomnia. Moreover, the feeling of being trapped or unfulfilled can permeate other areas of life, affecting relationships and personal happiness.

Caleb: That is a heavy price to pay for security. And what about the third risk you mentioned—limited impact?

Stacy: When working in a role that does not align with your skills or passions, your ability to make a meaningful impact is often hampered. Think about it: when you are passionate about what you do, you bring not just your skills, but your energy, creativity, and commitment to the table. These are the ingredients for not just succeeding, but for making a significant impact—whether in your organization, field, or broader community. In roles that don’t fit, your potential is not fully utilized, and your impact is inevitably diminished.

Caleb: So, if someone recognizes themselves in what you’re describing—staying in a comfortable but unfulfilling job because they’re afraid of the alternative—what steps would you recommend to begin shifting away from fear?

Stacy: As I mentioned earlier, the first step is introspection. It is crucial to take a step back and reflect on what you truly value and what drives you. This might involve journaling your thoughts, talking to a therapist or career coach, or simply taking some time off for self-reflection. Understanding your own values and passions is key to overcoming fear because it clarifies what you’re actually working towards.

Caleb: Finding clarity in the chaos.

Stacy: Precisely. Once you have a clearer understanding of your desires, the next step is to start small. Change does not have to be radical or immediate. It can be gradual. For instance, you might take on a new project at work that aligns more closely with your interests, or you could start volunteering in a field you’re passionate about on the weekends. These small steps not only build your experience and resume in areas you care about, but they also gradually lessen the fear as you begin to see possible paths forward.

Caleb: Building confidence one step at a time.

Stacy: Yes, and along with these steps, cultivating a support system is crucial. Whether it is mentors, peers, friends, or family, having people who support and believe in your potential can make a tremendous difference. They can provide encouragement, advice, or even just lend an ear when you are facing tough decisions.

Caleb: Stacy, do you have more consequences of trading purpose for the illusion of security in your Animal Health or Veterinary career?

Stacy: I certainly do. They include unfilled potential, difficulty in adapting, a loss of authenticity, and a lack of long-term satisfaction.

Caleb: When people let fear dictate their career choices, what kind of impact can that have on their potential?

Stacy: The consequences can be quite significant. When fear is the driving force, it tends to keep you in a safety zone where taking risks or seizing opportunities that could lead to substantial growth and satisfaction are often avoided. This can lead to a career plateau, where personal and professional growth is minimal. Individuals might meet their basic needs, but they miss out on the deep, intrinsic rewards that come from truly fulfilling their potential and contributing in a way that resonates with their personal mission.

Caleb: The idea of a career plateau is certainly compelling. In your experience, how does this fear-induced stagnation affect someone’s ability to adapt, especially considering today’s rapidly changing job market?

Stacy: Adaptability is key in today’s professional landscape, where change is the only constant. Those who can step out of their comfort zone to learn new skills, embrace new ideas, and pivot as necessary are generally the ones who thrive. Fear, unfortunately, limits this adaptability. It fosters a defensive mindset, focused more on protecting what one already has rather than exploring new opportunities. This mindset can severely limit one’s ability to respond to changes in the job market or even recognize opportunities for innovation and growth.

Caleb: It seems like maintaining that defensive posture could really stifle a person’s authenticity at work, as well. How do you see this playing out in terms of losing one’s authenticity?

Stacy: That is a critical point, Caleb. Working in a role or environment that doesn’t align with one’s true self can lead to a significant erosion of authenticity. If you are constantly performing tasks that don’t resonate with your core values or that don’t make use of your inherent strengths and passions, it can be incredibly draining. Over time, this misalignment can diminish your sense of identity and purpose, making you feel like a stranger in your own life. This dissonance often leads to dissatisfaction and can even affect mental and emotional well-being.

Caleb: It sounds quite disheartening. But let us turn the corner here—what is the alternative, Stacy? How can our listeners find the courage to pursue a path more aligned with their purpose?

Stacy: Once again, finding the courage to pursue your true purpose starts with self-awareness. It’s about taking a deep dive into understanding your own values, passions, and strengths. This can be facilitated through self-reflection, journaling, or even taking personality and strengths assessments. The key is to start identifying what truly matters to you and then considering how you can start integrating these elements into your Animal Health or Veterinary career. This might mean starting small or it could involve more significant changes like additional training or even a career pivot.

Caleb: That sounds like a thoughtful approach to what is often seen as a daunting change.

Stacy: It is definitely a journey. It’s important for our listeners to understand that transitions like these aren’t about making one giant leap, but rather about taking progressive, thoughtful steps towards greater alignment and fulfillment. It could start with simple actions like volunteering in areas that pique your interest or attending workshops and seminars to build skills in a new field. Each step builds on the last and helps to form a bridge to an Animal Health or Veterinary career that is more fulfilling and authentic.

Caleb: For those feeling stuck or fearful, what’s one initial step you would recommend?

Stacy: I suggest starting with reflection. Consider what brings you joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. Reflect on moments in your life when you felt most alive and fulfilled. Then, think about how you might start incorporating these elements into your Animal Health or Veterinary career. Talking to a career coach or a mentor can also be incredibly helpful. They can offer guidance, support, and the necessary tools to help you navigate through your thoughts and formulate a plan of action.

Caleb: Thank you, Stacy, for sharing all of this information about trading purpose for the illusion of security in your Animal Health or Veterinary career. It has been a pleasure talking with you.

Stacy: It has been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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