“May you live in interesting times” was thought to be a Chinese curse. I’d say it’s a good summation of the last few years.
The current air of uncertainty means many people have stopped actively managing their careers. They’re waiting for things to improve or for something to land in their lap. In the meantime they’ve hunkered down (not sure how you hunker) kept their nose to the grindstone (ouch) and their head below the parapet (today’s cubical).
If you recognize this pattern in your own approach to your job, here are some questions to jump start your thinking about where you want to go and what you want to do with your life.
It’s never too late to change course and you don’t have to stick with the job you fell into when you left school.
These are questions I use when I’m coaching, to help people think about what they want next in their careers. Take time to really think about these things. Coaching forces you to put in the mental effort because you’ve set aside the time and someone is prompting you to stretch yourself, but you can do this alone.
Don’t rush through them, it’s not a magazine quiz. Give yourself a chance to come up with answers that aren’t just a first response.
What do you love doing in your job now?
What are the things that make you smile and anticipate when you wake up, even if you only get to do them occasionally?
If you were filling three days outside of work, with all the things you enjoy doing, what would be included?
List everything from sports to travel, reading to movies, geeky to artistic, what do you really enjoy?
How big is your skillset and how broad are your talents?
Write down everything you can think of that you know how to do. Start with a breakdown of your current job, move on to previous jobs and things you do outside of work. List everything from relationship building to technical expertise, managing people or projects, spotting opportunities or executing a plan – a big brain explosion of what you can do. Get a friend to help you if you are really stuck.
Where do you see connections?
Look at your top 2-3 things on lists 1 and 2, how can you connect that to your skills and knowledge? What jobs are there in the areas that interest you and would let you do the work that you enjoy the most?
How are you going to get that role?
If you can see the possibilities of a job you’d love, how are you going to proactively begin to move that direction?
What’s holding you back? What are you afraid of? What keeps you from exploring the new possibilities while you continue with your current job?
Is it worth it?
When you look at the new job possibilities, are you excited about them? Enough to find the time and energy to overcome the things that are holding you back? If not, what IS the job that would be worth the effort?
The most important gift you can give yourself is options.
That, and the belief that you have the ability to make this job change. You just need to set your sites on what would be interesting, exciting or inspiring enough to get you motivated.
When you can picture yourself waking up with enthusiasm, excited about what the day holds, you’ll know you are on the right track. Then go find that job.
Here is a fabulous video by Ze Frank to get you going. He says “Let me realize that my courage is a wild dog and won’t just come when I call it. I have to chase it down and hold on as tight as I can.”