Did you know that an average person changes their career 5 to 7 times in their lifetime? The times of studying to become a professional in a field are well and truly over. And why is that?
In my opinion people are much more aware of what they want and what values drive them. They also recognise if what they used to want in the past may not hold true any more and so they change the direction. There are a lot more career options available and people are courageous to be entrepreneurial, too.
During working life, the priority of our values changes, which then pushes us to change a career to align better with those values.
If you feel stagnant, uninspired or demotivated in your current job, there are a number of things you can do to enhance your career.
Here are a few strategies I have utilised in my own career to evolve professionally and get where I have wanted to go:
In all those strategies, 1. self-awareness - knowing my values, 2. being present and 3. trusting my intuition were the three essentials that led me to evolve in my career over the years.
1. Use your job as a springboard to a new career
If you don’t know what is missing in your current role or your career but you feel that you are not as excited as you used to be, the chances are that you have outgrowth it. The best thing to do in this situation, instead of making ‘spontaneous’ decision about your next move, is to slow down and ask yourself: What more do I need? ; What was it that used to excite me about this job and doesn’t any more? And: What do I need that this job doesn’t give me any more?
When I worked in international education sector, I used to speak with a large number of potential international students from many European countries who were serious about studying in Australia. My job was then to present them the options of moving across the globe to study at one of the universities or colleges in Perth. Whilst I was able to present Perth and the offered courses really well, I couldn’t quite answer the question many of them posed, which was: How do I decide? How do I know what I want to study? Those conversations led me to undertake coaching training. I felt the need to be able to help those students (and others on crossroads in their lives) in a more meaningful way then just to present study options. That’s how my new career as a life, career and then executive coach was born.
2. Play to your strengths through initiative at work
People are the most effective and motivated at work when they utilise their strengths rather than are challenged to constantly face their weaknesses.
We all posses a set of natural gifts, which when discovered and put to good use, benefit not only the organisation we work for, but also our own self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
What do you need to do? You need to pay attention to what is required for you, the team or the organisation to flourish. What could be improved, done differently, what new initiative implemented to benefit your customers, stakeholders, your team’s cohesion, communication or time management?
Whatever your strengths are, don’t be afraid to use them, even if that means adding some duties (only temporarily) to your already busy schedule.
Go and speak to your trusted allies at work, someone in the position of power and suggest things, better yet – write a proposal. I promise you, if you feel stagnant, taking action will help you feel more alive and motivated.
Upon my return to Perth from London, I worked part-time for an accounting membership organisation in an administration role. The other half of my working week, I spent on my business, coaching and delivering training. As my passion for helping others was “on” after only just completing coaching training in London, I very quickly identified why and how the members needed to be helped to succeed in the membership training program they were completing. I put a proposal forward and before I knew it I was busy designing and delivering a series of training sessions ,which I had proposed. This initiative helped me stay engaged, play to my strengths, and also very positively impact the outcomes for the organisation and their members. This program helped members succeed in completing their studies.
One thing to note here is that the A to Z process from proposal creation to execution is not as seamless as it seems. It requires countless hours of dedication and perseverance and therefore it is so important to first of all know your values – your life and career drivers and your strengths.
3. Start small and let it evolve
If you are not sure about what you want to do next, start small and trial it. If you have a passion for something that you enjoy doing or have been assisting others by providing a free service, try to charge some money for it and see where it takes you. Do not expect to know all the answers or have a full vision for your business straight away. As Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook said in his Harvard University graduation speech, a single Eureka moment is a very dangerous concept, or in other words: its takes years to become an overnight success. Instead of putting pressure on yourself and trying to make it perfect straight away, start and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it is a part of the journey, trust me.
Ask you friends to recommend you to others, set a small website or a Facebook page – whatever aligns with your values and preferences. The main thing is to enjoy it.
Whist still in London and working in the education sector I set up my coaching practice there. It was not long before I moved back to Perth though and started coaching and then training here. The journey took my business more in the direction of corporate training at first, which I have loved. It was less of life coaching, which was my initial idea. Through corporate training I came across many executive and corporate coaching clients, and that helped me develop my skillset and allowed for my business to evolve. Only after having my daughter I felt the need to focus more on my individual and private clients. I have no doubt that I would not be the coach I am today, had I not had the corporate experiences first.
Don’t discount any experience, embrace it with curiosity and learn from it, you never know where it will take you. The main thing is to enjoy it and ensure it aligns with your values.
Career Path Wisdom:
Ask Yourself What is missing? Or What do I need?
Seek Opportunities to Utilise Your Strengths.
Eureka Moment for One Brilliant Idea is Deceptive.
Do Business out of Love - to Contribute, Help & Grow.
Plan for Your Dreams to Realise.
Let Go of a Desperate Desire to Make Your Plans Happen.
4. Do it for the right reasons
If you want to set up your business in hope that it will bring you quick money, my suggestion would be not to. If you want to earn some extra cash, get another job, don’t set up a business for it. If you set up a business you ought to do it with love, and not out of desperation (fear). What I mean by love here is the desire to help others, to contribute and for you to grow and develop in the process. Love is the need to share your passion with others and if in the process they choose to buy from you, that’s a bonus.
I have made the mistake of trying to make my business profitable before it became helpful to others in the way I had wanted it to be. Only after I have changed my perspective and started looking at how it helps others, I allowed myself to go with the flow and relax the pressure I was putting on myself to make it work in a certain way, at all cost.
That is why I admire others and am so willing to support fellow entrepreneurs who through their passion and drive to share their skills, actually help people. A number of my friends run small businesses where through utilising their strengths of creativity, educating, child care, mindfulness, fitness, through a conscious intention of love and contribution and finally their true passion for products and services they provide, they succeed. They are also not afraid to start small and go with the flow of their own path rather than compare themselves to others.
5. Ask yourself "what’s missing?"
If you absolutely cannot move in either of the above directions, namely cannot come up with a new initiative at work, for a number of reasons, or you cannot set up a dream business on the side, at least for now; and if you feel stuck and unhappy at work, ask yourself – what’s missing? What do I need in order to be happy? And listen to your intuition: the first thought that comes to your mind, the quiet whisper. Don’t discard what it tells you. Even if you can come up with a trillion reasons for not doing what the intuition tells you, the chances are that if you don't listen, in some time, you will find yourself in exactly the same spot.
By asking yourself those questions: what’s missing? and what do I need? You are likely to come up with a good starting point to resolve any issues there many be at work, for example a conversation you need to have with your boss or a negotiation of a better conditions or a promotion.
And if you are afraid of facing whatever you feel or know you need to do in you career, the good news is that I can help you manage that process.
It was through asking those questions that I uncovered that I wanted to become a coach. The work in education sector was very rewarding at first, as I was presenting opportunities of study and a new life to young people from many countries. It wasn’t until I realised that anyone, who knows and understands themselves well, is capable of making their own empowered decisions and trust themselves much more than if they are guided by a counsellor. In that moment, I knew I wanted to base my career less on telling others what to do and more on asking, guiding and inspiring them to make their own choices.
6. Make your dreams your plans
The key to making any idea or a dream come true is to plan for them. Once you know what you want and understand how it fits in with your life, with who you are and what you stand for, there is nothing that should stop you from planning and implementing it. There are a couple of key elements to it though:
1. Do it for the right reasons.
2. Don’t be attached to it. Set it up and let it go.
Doing it for the right reasons refers to the intention of love, and not fear, which were mentioned in point 4. It cannot be just about money. You may want to make more money but at the same time have the desire to give more, to be more active, feel more engaged, energised and passionate – essentially do more with yourself and for others. Only you will know what your intention is, and it will be reflected in what you actually get back.
The second point refers to setting a goal and letting go of a desperate desire to fulfil it. It also means being flexible and allowing for changes to happen. Things, like weather change all the time and we adjust. We should allow room for mistakes, delays…and failures, whether it is in your new business venture, initiative at work or a bigger career vision. Be reminded that we only learn from mistakes and we only progress when we are actually in motion, not stationary.
Saying all that, it is essential to have a specific action plan with steps and deadlines for implementation. Not only will it make your dreams real, but it will also hold you accountable and make you feel like you are moving forward, even if you keep altering the direction.
When I look back at my career I set a number of job specific goals. I remember wanting to move to London and work for education there. I set the goal for myself to achieve it within 7 years time, however the job became available only after 1.5 years and I applied. Before I knew it I was on the plane to London.
When I wanted to become a life coach, I met the right people who guided me in the right direction to undertake the best course I could dream of. On reflection, it was only in situations when I hanged on to the outcome in desperation or our of fear that things didn’t come alone. It is a difficult process to be able to let go, but with the right practice, possible.
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