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The Road of Work – Keys to a Successful Navigation

The Road of Work – Keys to a Successful Navigation

Your Guide to Navigating the Road of Work

Do you feel that your life is an express lane and you are driving blindly? Ever feel that way about your career? You spend most of your waking hours on the thruway of work. Are you one of many people who are working in a job they are not satisfied with? Some wonder how they got where they are in the first place; did they somehow miss a turn along the way? Many have lost their passion for work altogether, they arrive each day on cruise control and return, gas tank emptied at the end of the day.

Wish you had a road map to guide you through your journey? Ever want to make a U-turn or take a more scenic route? Life is full of transition, beginning a job, pursuing a career, making a commitment to a relationship, having children, trying to balance work and family life and caring for aging parents. Our work affects our life and our life affects our work, both are intertwined. As a result your career often has its fast lanes; it’s off ramps, mergers and speed bumps along the way. Sometimes you might feel out of control, ready to spin out at any time, other times you are in cruise control. Learning how to design your own road map and how to take control of the wheel can help you to navigate your lifetime of career transitions. Learning the keys to a successful navigation can help you to navigate sharp turns, detour around accidents, and to enjoy a smooth, safe ride.

Chart your own course. Get to know yourself very well. The self discovery process will prevent you from making decisions that do not support your values, interests and passions. Without self knowledge you might find yourself “off roading” or worse yet, stuck. Use the tips below; they are the keys to a successful ride to help you to identify your ideal work and to make it your own. Being familiar with what you really want in your life is like having the best road map in your glove compartment. I’ve learned, as a career coach, that many of my clients simply lack the map, many say:

“I’ve been working for years at this job but find I have less and less energy at the end of the day. I hate it. But what else could I possibly do?”

“I chose this job because it was a good fit for me at the time. I wonder if it is possible to make a change? I’d like to work in the community or for a non profit group but don’t have any experience in this area, can you help? Can I make a change or is it too late?”

“I’ve been at home raising my family and now I’ve like to return to the workforce, but I am not sure what to say about my absence. What transferable skills do I have?”

“I feel like I’ve missed my calling. I want to work at a job I feel passionate about.”

“How can I make sure I get the next promotion?”

You have choices about your career destination; you get to pick your journey. You deserve to have work that is fulfilling, has meaning and uses your gifts. You also deserve to have a life outside of work. Many professionals have now make career changes to reflect their interests and to increase their work/life balance. We realized that our lives are too precious to spend it doing something we don’t enjoy. My current clients include men who are turning from software engineering and project management to science, teaching, consulting and small business ownership. Many women are making decisions to leave the corporate world to raise their families or to start their own businesses or to find something in between that allow them to balance a life of childcare and elder care at the same time, all while finding some time for themselves. A 4 study conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy indicated that 37% of highly qualified women leave their careers for a period of time, 58% resort to flexible or part time hours. To summarize, what are you doing to meet your career needs? What decisions are you putting off? What improvements can you make in your own career?

The Keys to a Successful Ride:

1. Give your Map a Name: Write your Mission Statement: Who are you really? What are your passions? What are your values, what motivates you and what gifts do you have that you want to share with others? What is your personal brand, those unique qualities that make up who you really are? What do you want out of your life? What do you dream of? Write your own mission statement for your life and work by knowing yourself well. If you feel stuck, try to think of what you enjoyed doing as a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Ask your friends what they enjoy about you the most. Find your life purpose. When you do, write your mission statement for your work and your life. You will find that knowing your life purpose will help you to make the career decision that reflects your values and uses your talents.

At age 62 she took the time to evaluate her life and to reflect on what she really wanted. She remembered that she really loved her bohemian style life when she was younger and carefree. She compared that to her task oriented life and her long list of accomplishments. Upon making this discovery she limited her proficient “to do” list to only 8 items and replaced that time by doing the things she loved, she started yoga, walking daily and singing in her choir. Ironically once she did this she was also to get the job that she was seeking, switching from high tech to healthcare.

2. Label your Main Attractions: A successful ad campaign for Tide revealed its special “blue crystals”, its unique selling point. What are you main attractions? What do you have to offer in talent, skills, education, gifts that make you unique? What are your successes? Write down your CAR stories, tell the story of a Challenge you experienced, the Action you took to solve the challenge and the Result that you gained. Learn the art of self promotion. Do it in a way that you are comfortable with, but do it. Making your attraction visible will keep it on the map; make it a showcase that everyone wants to visit. If you practice this tool it will be easy for you to use it in an interview or to gain the promotion you want. Take a moment to write down your “blue crystals.”

I am working with a woman in Boston who has a passion for politics and environmental issues. While she was able to express her environmental interests in her research at work, we both sensed that her voice needed to be heard in a bigger way. Once she was able to turn down the volume of self doubt and turn up her personal volume she became a free lance writer and public speaker. She is getting paid for publishing her opinion and expertise and has established a writing desk in her home, a rest stop where she can freely write and let her voice be heard.

3. Take a look around: “Should I stay or should I go?” Are you working at a job where you don’t enjoy the scenery anymore? Are you feeling like your gifts are not being used and your work is not appreciated? Do you have a tug in the pit of your stomach when you leave for work in the morning, wishing you were at home instead? Are you concerned that your position may be eliminated but are not being proactive?

How do you know when you really should be taking a more scenic route? It is not unusual for adults to have experienced multiple careers in their lifetime and many jobs. The days of staying in one place and receiving an award at the end are long gone. It is okay change lanes. First decide if you should improve where you are or if it is time to move on. Look around and observe your current work. Put on another pair of sunglasses and see the view with a different lens. Could positive changes be made where you are? Are your perceptions true or tinted by your self perceptions? Step back to get the bigger picture. If you find the need for change, communicate what it is that you need. Want to be challenged, to be able to put your own creativity into your projects? See if you can find better fulfillment right where you are, if not, make a career change to something that is more supportive of where you want to be.

The key to knowing if you should make a change is determining if you are happy where you are. Like a sight seeing tour, look around, take some notes. What is working for you, what is not? What changes do you need to make? Write them down and make a commitment to make the changes you need personally and professionally.

As a successful sales person in a high tech company others thought I was happy, I was making a lucrative income, was well recognized in the company and was on my way to being offered a headquarters management position. By then the speed bumps had come along. What do we do with speed bumps? We slow down, we use caution, we look to the left and the right, and we re-evaluate our position. For me, the speed bumps on my road where my children. On the inside I struggled, I had a 2 year old and 5 year old at home and I wondered what it would be like to give up the mahogany board room meetings for a day in the sandbox. One November day I was on a ride at Disney and made the plans for my exit. I gave my notice, leaving in February of the next year. My change was successful and using the tools in my navigational Guide, I was able to master staying home and then later return to work effortlessly, choosing a different career that better supported my new work/life balance needs.

4. Create your own roadmap: design your ideal job or career: If you’ve decided to make some changes you will need your own roadmap to guide you. What do you really want out of your life and what role does your work play in that goal? Most of our waking hours are spent working, why not do what you enjoy? Visualize your ideal day, what are you doing? Where are you? Who is around you? What talents are you using? Are you in a corporation, a desk at home or at a small non profit group? You have a meeting at 10:00, who is there and what are they discussing? You get a phone call, what is it about? It is lunchtime, what are you doing? Now, 3:00 and a call comes in, who is it and what do they want from you? How do you feel when you leave at 5:00? What do you plan to do with your evening? Get a sense of the road that is the best ride for you. What types of jobs offer these attractions? Identify the work possibilities that you might want to explore. Make a list of your job targets.

A software engineer reported he was bored after doing the same type of job for many years. He wanted to start a part time business, one that he could take into his retirement. We discovered he enjoyed cooking. His ideal job would be to bring healthy cooking and a fun entertaining experience to others. Within six weeks he established a business identity as a professional chef and is contracted to cook at a corporate gathering in one month. He looks forward to enjoying his new career.

5. Your Journey: Charting your course For Success: Without goals you are like a traveler without a destination, you don’t know what direction to go in and will not know when you have arrived. Like any journey there is a time of departure, a period of time spent in “transit” which can be disorientating and a point of arrival. Having a clear sense of your journey will remind you of why you are traveling and will get you through the uncomfortable time of passage. Spend the time to research your options in the same way you would visit a travel guide. Read the book “Working Identity” and realize that there may be many different types of careers for you, like unvisited cities, you don’t know if you’d like it there unless you learned more about it. Take some professional career assessments to help guide your options. Need to have additional education or certification for the work you want to do? Take a detour, figure out how to take the coursework you need. Ask for directions, network with others who have the job you might be interested in. Ask to stop in for a visit, take a look around. Try on the idea of a new job like a new spring coat. Get a sense of how it fits. Keep in the lane, write down your goals and take single daily actions towards making them happen. Achievable goals are specific and measurable and include what you will do and when you will do it. Journal your goals and your progress.

She was unhappy in her work at the television station. Everyone was so busy and focused she lacked the human connection she needed in her work. She also wanted to feel that her work meant something that it helped others in some way. She read Working Identity and decided to try out other types of work. Her assessments confirmed that she was a helper and an educator, creative and caring about others. She “tried on” the job of a early childhood educator by taking a course. She tried out the career of a speech therapist by talking to one, she tried out working with special needs children through a part time job, she researched, talked to people, observed and then decided what she wanted to do. She will be soon enrolling in a Masters program for Occupational Therapy.

6. Arriving at your destination: So, you’ve chosen your destination, you have a map and are ready to begin your journey. Before you put your foot to the pedal you will need a full tank of gas, some beverages and tasteful snacks to keep you energized on your journey. Know that there will be bumps in the road and you might feel lost at times. Trust that your instincts will set you back on course. Keep on the road and the mile markers will quickly fly by. Arm yourself with a solid compass, the resume that provides a glowing review of your unique qualities and contributions. Set your goal to simply enjoy the scenery, know you might have a number of interviewing visits before narrowing your choices. Communicate your “blue crystals” and become the ideal job candidate. Visit many places, meet many people. Become an interesting tourist. Let others learn from you. Then they will want you to stay. Choose your destination, seeking the best “hotel”; make sure you are getting the value in return to the value that you provide. You deserve only the finest of linens. Choose the nameplate that fits you best, define your working hours to allow flexibility for your many journeys and park your car in the work you desire. Congratulations, you have arrived. Celebrate yourself!