Turn Blue-Collar Career Challenges into Opportunities for Progress

Life loves to throw curveballs at every opportunity. Just when you’re starting to get into your rhythm, an unexpected problem can come flying in over the plate before you realize it. While many of these curveballs are in your personal life, it’s common to have to deal with them as career challenges too.

In the blue-collar world, these career challenges can knock you flat if you aren’t prepared. But once you know how to handle them, those same challenges can turn into opportunities you otherwise would have missed.

Tips for Turning Career Challenges into Success

#1. You Never Strike Out, You Can Only Leave the Plate

Unlike baseball, you can get dozens of strikes but stay in the game. The only time you really lose is when you give up and go home.

Career challenges can often feel insurmountable. But even the worst ones, like losing a job you’ve had for years, won’t leave you without paths to take. One major benefit of working in the trades is that you’ll never been starved for job opportunities. If there’s a city that has enough carpenters, electricians or plumbers, I haven’t seen it.

For some, losing their primary job after a decade or more is often the kick they need to finally do what they’ve always wanted: become their own boss. When you’ve put in your dues and gathered enough experience, staying where you started can sometimes hold you back. If you’ve wanted to start your own business, now is the perfect time.

#2. Success Lives Outside Your Comfort Zone

Changing things up is scary – some may even call it terrifying. But achieving success beyond your peers means doing things your peers won’t. One of the biggest career challenges faced by many is stagnation.

Career stagnation can take many forms:

  • Hitting a peak where you feel you can’t improve
  • Achieving a promotion that leaves you without any additional upward mobility
  • Finding yourself restless doing the same thing you’ve done for years

Whatever the source, the solution is the same: seek a new path with new goals. Especially for skilled tradespeople, where being a specialist is so integral to your success, branching out may seem like a waste of time. But learning new skills can improve your professional and personal life. You can incorporate what you learn into what you’ve always done to become better in your trade. Often, you may even find that it revitalizes your interest in your primary career’s skills.

#3. Rely on Your Team

One common trait you’ll identify in most successful people is a willingness to work with others. This isn’t a coincidence. Most things are more easily accomplished through collaboration.

When you encounter a career challenge, don’t always try to tackle it on your own. While discipline and being self-sufficient are important, it’s also important to know when you’ve exhausted your options for handling it alone.

Look to those around you like friends, family members and coworkers for help. Sometimes the solution you needed is painfully obvious – just not to you. Teamwork eases each person’s individual stress load.

Likewise, actively look for those around you experiencing their own career challenges. Being a guide to others is often just as beneficial for yourself.

#4.  Divide and Conquer

Career challenges can look like mountains, especially when you first identify them. When your problem is mountainous, it seems impossible to overcome. 

However, that vast problem could just be a collection of several smaller issues. Dividing the total problem into smaller bits allows you to see the small pieces that make the whole picture. Each smaller challenge will be more defined and granular. While you may not understand what caused the whole issue, you can often see the sources of the smaller ones.

Secondly, looking at the problem like this allows you to approach it systematically. You’ll often be able to tackle the individual challenges more easily. More importantly, it lets you see your success as you consider your plan and execute it.

Ultimately, you’ll find solutions for all the parts which solves the big problem. When you walk away from the experience, you will have a new understanding of your career and new skills to solve future problems.

Discover More Tips to Help You Find Your Path – Get the Book!

Ken Rusk is a blue-collar entrepreneur who has started several successful endeavors and mentored hundreds of young people in their pursuit of a satisfying career and fulfilling life. Discover how Ken’s approach to life and work can help you set and achieve your goals – all while avoiding the nearly inescapable trap of college debt. Pre-order his new book, Blue Collar Cool: How to Earn Without the College Burn today!