Creating Excellence Through People

Using the Burnt Toast Theory to Advance Your Career

When things don’t go our way, we can allow the Burnt Toast Theory to guide us in the direction we are meant to be.

New York Times Besting Selling Author and lifestyle entrepreneur, Lewis Howes, recently explained the concept of the “Burnt Toast Theory” on Instagram. His post highlighted that when things don’t go our way, we can allow the Burnt Toast Theory to guide us in the direction we are meant to be. If you make toast for breakfast and it burns, this minor inconvenience can cause delay or redirection that results in something that works to your advantage.

The Burnt Toast Theory can also be favorable when applied to work and career.  For instance, were you turned down for the job you wanted so badly? Maybe you didn’t even get called for an interview? According to the Burnt Toast Theory, this rejection may lead you to a better opportunity or to cross paths with a new network that can expand your career by leaps and bounds. Of course, for the Burnt Toast Theory to offer guidance and reassurance, we must have faith in ourselves that we are capable of moving forward and achieving our aspirations and then some.

The career journey can be full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average person may change jobs a dozen or more times during their tenure in the workforce, meaning they could also change careers several times. Numerous variables influence job and career changes, including interests, economic trends, financial requirements, and personal and professional growth.

If you find yourself in a position of wanting or needing to make a job or career change:

  • Remind yourself how resilient you are. Chances are that you have made professional changes in the past that required you to adapt. You can do it again. The uncertainty may be uncomfortable, but this is only temporary. Keep your eyes on your options and, ultimately, the prize.
  • Find a support group! There are professional organizations across the country that offer support to their members who are in transition. These groups offer support, connection, and could result in leads to help land your next role.
  • If you want to make a change but are unsure about leaping all at once – try it out. Start a side hustle, take on a part-time opportunity to learn the ropes, or even volunteer in your spare time. Gaining experience in an area of interest you are passionate about will encourage your next move.
  • Take a self-assessment. There are numerous options, some free, that can support your career development. The VIA Character Strengths Survey is one option that can help build awareness of your greatest strengths through understanding motivators and values.

Dealing with the “burnt toast” situations in our professional endeavors can be disappointing and frustrating, but it is worth recognizing the opportunities in these setbacks. While some parts of these situations are out of our control, what we do have control over is how we respond. We can choose to stay focused on the big picture instead of minor inconveniences. A larger lens will allow us to turn feedback into feedforward, define our own direction, and attract people, companies, and opportunities aligned with where we want to be.

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Terri Cummings

As Owner & Senior Consultant at Level Up Solutions HRD LLC, Terri Cummings is an advocate of lifelong learning who fosters bridging the connection between personal and professional development. Through strategy and proactive development, her aim is to align students, members of the workforce, and employers with continuous growth and opportunity that achieves sustainable success.

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