Two Magic Words That Overcome Any Career Obstacle

– Posted in: troubleshooting

overcome career obstacleAt a recent leadership conference, a variety of questions were asked that essentially boiled down to how to overcome a career obstacle:

  • How do you negotiate for better work/life balance?
  • How do you counter when you ask for more money and hear No?
  • What if you get promoted to a bigger role but get no additional money?
  • What if you mention getting another job offer and your employer calls your bluff?
  • How do you know how far you can go without asking for too much?

The above questions are different on the surface, and you should always customize as much as possible when you are trying to solve a problem (career or otherwise). There are specific tactics to negotiate for flexibility. There are other tactics to use when you negotiate and hear No. There are even more specific tactics for when you negotiate and hear there is no money.

However, what these issues (and frankly any career obstacle) have in common is that you hit a stopping point and need to find a way to continue. Two magic words help me continue past any career obstacle, and I encourage you to think, say, even scream these out loud when you get stuck at your next career obstacle:


Feeling burned out and need better balance? So what – you’ll figure out how to set better boundaries, get more flexibility or get more support.

You asked for more money and your boss turned you down? So what – you’ll ask another time, or find someone else to say Yes now, or find another job if needed.

You get a promotion and realize there is no extra money attached? So what – you’ll ask for more money and if that doesn’t work, see the point above!

The magic of So What is that it immediately makes the obstacle a non-factor

“So” in this context is a synonym for “next”. “What” encourages you to think of action. So What forces you to think of doing something else, not wallowing in the disappointment, fear, or paralysis of the obstacle.

Of course, So What by itself doesn’t solve the problem or absolve you of the responsibility for doing the work to solve the problem. So What is a trigger, a boost, a jumpstart for action. Career management is the long game. You have to keep moving and never want to be stopped in your tracks. As long as you keep moving, you will find a way. If you don’t solve your immediate problem, you will likely find another opportunity to replace it.

Don’t believe me? So What! Find another trigger then😊 See, I just you got moving again – So What works for all scenarios.

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