Recently I worked with a wonderful woman, let’s call her Amanda. She was in a great job and was doing well in her career and just felt a few things were missing for her. Dealing with a nagging feeling that she had more potential, that if she could get out of the weeds she’d have more impact working at a strategic level. Amanda also felt like her career had been a bit more accidental than she wanted, too much going with the flow. She knew there were changes and restructures coming and wanted to own her direction…but she wasn’t sure how to navigate a career move.
She had shifted into career thinking rather than job thinking. Which is where you step back and look at the bigger picture to consider where you are going. Think about bigger goals. Maybe even consider lasting impact and legacy.
I love helping women take ownership of their careers, make that shift from doing a great job to having a great career. And with a career it’s important to consider your steps and moves.
There are many things that can trigger you to think about what comes next for you and your career…
- A big birthday! I find a lot of my clients approach me in the lead up to a big birthday, as it’s really got them thinking about whether they are where they thought they would be at this stage in their life.
- A big life event – it could be something happy like having children, or it could be losing someone. When we go through a big life change it can cause us to revaluate our priorities and needs. Let’s face it, I’m sure the dreaded Covid did that for most of the population (that’s why I’m writing this from a new house, lol)!
- You could be feeling frustrated that you’re not as far on as you want to be, or keep being overlooked for opportunities and promotions.
- You can (hopefully) see that you’ve way more potential than you’re using right now, so you want to step up and have more influence and impact. I’m all for encouraging women into leadership as we 100% need more balance.
- Or maybe you’re the type of person who’s always thinking about what next, you have an itch that needs scratched!
Whatever is triggering your thinking, embrace it. We so often put our own needs last, but you are important. In fact… the more people that rely on you, the more important it is that you consider yourself.
Did you know that career well-being has the biggest impact on your health and happiness? It stands to reason, it is how you spend the majority of your life. So it’s your duty to think about what will help you thrive!
The problem is, when we’re unsure of the answer, we tend to avoid doing the thinking because it feels hard. You hit that cloudy patch of brain and it can feel easier to take no action. That way you can’t get it wrong. But here’s a few beliefs that may help you with it. Firstly, a career is a lifetime, so one step in the ‘wrong’ direction isn’t a catastrophe. In fact it will give you some valuable lessons that will help you make better decisions in the future. Which means that there is no right or wrong, only feedback! Secondly, some things you won’t know until you try, a little experiment here and there will only help to diversify your experience. It will give you more and better stories to tell at interview, and help you understand more about yourself.
Thirdly, and most importantly, what if this is the best possible career move? What if the thing you’re scared of is actually a launching pad for you? When we consider what may be possible it becomes exciting.
You’re hopefully ready to start thinking about what’s next for you. This is the type of thing I love helping women answer (and of course if you’re not a woman, I’m sure this will help you too ?). And when you do the work below the answers will set you up for success. So here we go…let’s get stuck into the good stuff!
I’ve found that looking at your next career move with the following areas in mind helps you to think things out in a more rounded way:
I know that this can be seen as a dirty word for women, but I think you’ll know how I respond to that! Ambition is important. It’s about drive, purpose, and desire to have an impact. And the fire in your belly, so lean into your ambition. It’s great that you want to fulfil your potential. Isn’t that why we are here?
In terms of your next career move it’s really important to consider your bigger ambitions, and how your next move fits into that picture. I find there’s no better way for getting clarity than asking questions …I am a coach after all!
Take some time out to answer these (and see my tips below to help you):
- How important is it to you to progress?
- What does success mean to you?
- What would be your ideal goal to have reached in 5 years? What are the steps along the way?
- What do you want your lasting impact to be?
- What do you feel you deserve to be doing/ earning/ getting at this stage given your knowledge and experience?
We will be most successful when we are in a role that maximises our strengths and sense of purpose. And I remind you, a career is a lifetime. That’s a long time, so surely we owe it to ourselves to feel fulfilled. We will always do a better job when we feel aligned and engaged, so it’s a win for everyone.
- Think about the last 2-5 years…when have you felt really excited about what you were doing? What was driving that feeling?
- What’s really important to you about your role and career? Why is it important to you?
- What does your job have to have for you to feel fulfilled?
- What stifles you?
- What needs to be present for you to thrive?
When we’re not growing, we’re stagnating, or worse declining! Growth brings fulfilment, it brings excitement, it gives you purpose. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, he talks about how autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the keys to motivation. Having that freedom to grow and develop, and become great at things you care about will supercharge your drive, your confidence, and your sense of self.
- What new knowledge do you want to develop?
- What skills would you love to master or grow?
- What do you want to be the ‘go to person’ for?
- What support do you need to achieve those areas of growth?
- What courses or coaching could help you?
Most people don’t live to work, what we do fits within a wider lifestyle. Whether that’s as a family, or being able to take 5 holidays a year…what you want from life does impact our career decisions and whether you make a career move.
- How do you want your career to support your lifestyle?
- What conflicts or challenges are you having or are you concerned about in terms of your lifestyle?
- How could you resolve these?
In addition to answering the above, I recommend you apply my Top Tips:
Take time out to ask yourself these big questions, but don’t force the answers. Take a brain dump of whatever comes up, then let your mind ponder on it. Your brain will keep feeding you new insights and answers, your job is to pay attention and capture them! A few great walks can work wonders.
Clear a space to capture things visually. It’s amazing what inspiration comes from being able to step back and identify patterns, see common themes etc. A vision board might be the key to unlocking your success (I know it works for many of my clients).
Identify your blockers. I often find people do know what they want, it’s actually their fear that gets in their way. What might you be afraid of? Our deepest fear can be about success more than failure. How are you holding yourself back?
You may have noticed I’m all about support. Get the right people on your team! Whether it’s a top career coach (????? me of course), a mentor, your partner, friends…make sure you talk to people and ask for help.
Identify practical actions. Your brain loves action, what are some steps you can take every day/ week/ month to help you?
Reflect and learn from your journey. Enjoy it. Remember to look back and recognise how far you’ve gone. And be patient! You don’t have to achieve everything by tomorrow.
Dare to dream
We are all people after all, why can’t it be you who achieves your goals and dreams?
Armed with the answers to these questions, and applying the tips…you’ll be able to identify what’s the next best career move for you to make, and beyond. You may be able to map out a plan for the next few years. Use this as a guide and learn from the journey. We’re always being given new clues as to what drives and drains us, to what a good next step might be. Pay attention.
I’d love to hear about the insights you get, or if you get stuck…I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
And if you decide that you want a guide to help you find the right answers, and accelerate your journey, then my Back To School offer for the Career Elevator would be perfect for you. I’ve got lots of exciting bonuses designed to support you to achieve your career goals in the simplest and fastest way possible. Check it out here.