‘Kerrie, I want to be the most important person in the room?’ Many years ago I was having a conversation with a colleague about their career, he always seemed to know exactly what he wanted, yet I never felt I had a clear plan. I can remember feeling inadequate, why couldn’t I speak with conviction like him, what was wrong with me? Indecisive; lack of personal insight? Was I wasting time doing something that wasn’t me?
Some people have clear plans, they know from an early age exactly what they want to do, a friend knew early in her teens that she wanted to be a physiotherapist, she knew what GSCEs and A-Levels she needed and the grades that would get her a place on her university course of choice. I can remember feeling jealous. Instead, I had no clue and choose my GCSE and A-Levels and even degree based on what I enjoyed most.
There can be huge pressure on us from an early age to know what we want, I lost count of how many times as a youngster I was asked ‘And Kerrie what do you want to do when you grow up?’ I can remember the reaction when someone would know what they wanted; the adult would look impressed and responded positively. Reinforcing to me that I should know what I wanted and that I had better figure out it. Today I try to avoid asking this question myself, although I must admit it has popped out a few times!
When we don’t have a strong conviction, we can be prone to taking on other people’s plans. Suggestions from family members who mean well, but perhaps are basing their recommendation upon their own values and stories. For example, I have come across numerous clients who have been directed by well-meaning parents into something perceived as secure and stable because they struggled financially in the early stages of their own working lives. Or sometimes we will take on the career plans of our friends as we see how well they are progressing in their own careers and think maybe this could work for us. As we progress through our career if we don’t have a clear plan we can find our sponsors will encourage us in certain directions and as a result, we find ourselves saying yes without really considering if it will fit us.
And even if you do have a clear career plan, we all know plans can change they have a habit of going AWOL.
- Maybe what once seemed the right career direction no longer works;
- Perhaps there is an awareness that someone else is directing your career;
- New and unexpected opportunities have come your way;
- An unexpected event has thrown your plans up in the air.
Whatever events have brought you to this point, figuring out what your next move could be can be overwhelming, how do you find the answers, where do you start especially when you have no idea what the next move could be.
When we have a goal we are taught to work backwards and to break it down into small actions. But when we have no idea what the end destination looks like - our next career, our normal approach doesn’t work.
Instead, I encourage you to think about what you do know and to start with thinking about what you want your life to look like going forward. If you are to imagine your life in 12 months, 24 months from now and to visualize you are living your ideal life then capture everything it conjures up for you, the words, the images no matter how vague it may all feel. Because ultimate this is our end goal, we are looking for a career that will support and enable us to live our ideal life.
This vision of our future becomes our litmus test. As we are exploring new opportunities, testing out potential career options we can assess if it will enable us to move close to this vision, is it aligned or will it take us further away. And if we are unable to see how it supports it then why should we say yes, what would make us accept it – fear, pressure from others?
Having this vision is the starting point for creating our new plan, only this time we can have the conviction that we are at the centre, we are driving it and we own it.
If you have reached a crossroads in your career and need help navigating your way through then you may want to book yourself in for a free call to discuss how career coaching could help you find the answers.
And in the interim why not take a look at these other blogs to get you thinking: