Repacking Your Bags (Opinion)

by Talk Business & Politics ([email protected]) 86 views 

Author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith writes “what got you here won’t get you there.”

I translate that to mean that different stages of our careers require different skill sets. What has served us well in the past may not be the force multiplier for the next leg of our journey. And if life is the proverbial road trip, then it might serve us well to stop every now and then to check what we’ve packed in our bags. 

The following exercise is for all of us who are moving into a different phase. 

Unpack Your Bags

Take inventory of all that you have accumulated thus far: Skills, talents, behaviors, beliefs, assumptions and expectations. Ask yourself the hard questions:

What has worked well for me (what has been useful) … ?

What has the potential to limit me or hold me back (what is not useful) … ?

What takes up precious cargo space (noise) … ?

This is an exercise that requires intense self-examination. A taking stock of where you’ve been while also anticipating what’s ahead.  If there ever was a time to lighten the load, this is it. The ultimate question simply becomes “what do I really need to carry … ?” as I move into the next phase of my life. 

Repack Your Bags

Pack your bags by intentionally selecting what goes in. It’s very likely that the examination process shifted your perspective a bit, giving you more to consider yet less to carry. And by lightening the load, you’ve created room for new “stuff” — new experiences, new discoveries, new thought processes resulting in new growth spurts. 

With any luck this process of unpacking and repacking your bags won’t be too painful, because we’re apt to do it many times over throughout our lives. Our paths are not linear. Careers change, lives change and we change geographically and metaphorically. Change really is the only constant.

Not too long ago, I had the chance to examine the contents of my own bags. As a bit of self-disclosure, I will admit that I am structured. Very structured.  My world operates on routine, discipline, and order. These are fine qualities in and of themselves, but just like anything else, too much of a good thing is still too much.

My example of repacking is behavior-based, an examination of my mindset between two dichotomies, structure and spontaneity. But repacking is a mindset that can be applied to just about any type of change or transition: careers, finances, family, relationships, responsibilities, hobbies and interests, health and wellness, even what type of pet to adopt or what kind of car to drive. You’re posing new questions to yourself, looking at things from a new point of view, and deciding what you really need to carry in your bags. Everyone is unique and every journey is personal. Repack accordingly.

A good rule of thumb might be, when the landscape changes, it’s time to repack your bags. 

Congratulations to the newest inductees into Forty Under 40. I wish you perspective and perseverance as you continually unpack and repack your bags. Safe travels. 

Ancora Imparo …

Still, I am learning (and repacking my bags). 

Stacey Mason is the owner of Mason on Leadership and uses insight, perspective and humor to move people towards greater self-awareness and thought leadership. More information is available at