In Part 1 of my Career Exploration series, I share how to take stock of your current situation and do a deep dive into what’s really important for you in your career. If you are feeling like you can do better, or you are dreading going to work in the morning, or you’ve just lost the passion for what you do, it’s OK. Just by recognizing those feelings and by reading Part 1 of this blog series, you’ve already taken the first step towards finding career fulfillment. You are now a Career Explorer! Now that you are on your way, I will teach you how to get past the old beliefs and challenges that have held you back from your dream job. I will also offer strategies to get you on the path to success!
Was your childhood dream job really so childish? Or is there something more there?
Let me start by asking an important question. When you were younger, did you ever dream of having a really awesome job? Maybe you wanted to be an astronaut, or a doctor or maybe even a musician playing in front of a packed house. There is nothing wrong with dreams. However, as we get older we have to let some of those dreams go. After all, there isn’t high demand for astronauts! Eventually, you find yourself doing work that seemed like a good fit at the time. Maybe you found yourself doing work that just fell into your lap. Regardless of how you ended up where you are today, it’s important to acknowledge that things change. People change as well. In fact, most people change careers about a half dozen times in their life so it’s nothing new. The difficult thing is to find that career that really speaks to you and makes you excited, or at least makes you feel that you are in the right profession. Right?
Look to your dream jobs for clues about real-world jobs where you will thrive
I’ve worked with many clients who are at a crossroads in life and are not sure where to go next. If you thought you were alone in feeling this way, just know it’s more common than you would imagine. When these clients come my way, they are not happy where they are but they don’t know what options are best for them moving forward. OK, maybe astronaut, doctor or professional musician are out of the picture but believe it or not, those professions that were dreams from your childhood can give you clues about what type of work might be interesting for you now. Wanting to become an astronaut all those years ago may translate into wanting to have a sense of adventure now, compared to having a structured and predictable job. Being a doctor may be reflected in a need to work in a helping profession, though you may not have thought of it that way. And being a musician might point to a need to be noticed and have recognition in your work. It’s all part of the personal self-assessment process and the deep dive that we talked about in Part 1. I encourage you to really think about what motivates you. What needs are you trying to fulfill? It’s not easy but with some focus and a little help you might be surprised at how you can bring some of those dreams to fruition, at least to some extent.
Research new career paths with the help of a friend
Once you start assessing what’s really important then you can start doing some research to see what types of career would be a good fit for you. One thing that usually helps is to involve other people in the providing feedback to your ideas. Whether it’s family, friends or coworkers – they may validate your career ideas. Or not. But often, other people see things in us that we can’t see for ourselves. This type of input can prove to be invaluable. These “career buddies” can also serve as our support system. It’s easier to make a change when you have people on your side, so you’ll definitely want to recruit a career buddy.
The past is… Present?
Assuming you haven’t found that dream job just yet, it’s important to ask: what has held you back? Have you ever even thought about it? And have you ever asked yourself why you haven’t thought about it? For no fault of our own, we develop certain fears and limiting beliefs when we are young. These fears and limiting beliefs can linger into adulthood. Maybe you faced a lot of criticism when you were young and you became very critical of yourself when you got older. Perhaps you were told that you weren’t good at a particular subject at school so you kept that limiting belief, even though you may have loved that subject. It’s amazing how things in our childhood stay with us. Sometimes we can deal with them but sometimes we just get stuck and repeat the same patterns of self-doubt and fear, and these can short-circuit our ability to step into a more fulfilling career and life in general. For some, a therapist or a life coach may be needed to get passed these barriers. At a minimum, a good career coach will take these things into account and offer suggestions on how to deal with fears and that feeling of being stuck. Many Career Explorers have the best intentions and some wonderful ideas on what they want out of life. However, they get held back from putting them into action. It’s time to face these old demons and process them so you can open the door to possibility and real change!
How to deal with roadblocks due to fears and limiting beliefs
So, how do you deal with these roadblocks? Take procrastination for example. One technique that works for a lot of people is to make some simple, short-term goals and then take small steps that move you in a direction. The goals can be simple steps, like writing a follow-up email on a job application, or making a connection on LinkedIn, but they should be done daily. Individually, these are small steps but they build momentum. These small steps also get you into a habit of action, rather than procrastination. There are plenty of strategies like this to deal with the other roadblocks you may be facing so have faith, Explorer. You can do this and leave those old habits in the past where they belong.
After you have this level of clarity, start taking strategic action towards your new goal
So, now you’ve done some self-reflection, gotten some feedback from others and have a better sense of what you want in a career. You’ve also faced your fears and self-imposed limitations and are ready to get to work. Great! Now we can start moving ahead with confidence that you are going in a worthwhile and satisfying career direction. You also did the hard work to figure out what’s holding you back so you can feel good about moving ahead knowing that you won’t be repeating the same old cycle that got you stuck in the first place.
Now that you have better clarity and focus, you can start taking action! This is where you can start kicking your career search into high gear and start taking strategic steps that can yield amazing results. Now that you have a better understanding of which direction you are heading, having a polished resume and LinkedIn profile will become quite important. With your newfound clarity you will also want to be sure to work on your personal brand, which is the image you want to convey as you move forward. A good career coach can help with those things but there is plenty of information online that can get you started. From there you can start doing strategic networking and making connections that can help you in the near-term and beyond.
Use a solid job search plan in order to stay on track and avoid discouragement
You may be eager to move forward, but there’s one thing you want to establish before getting too far into the job search: a plan. You will want to develop a job search plan as you start reaching out to people and companies. One of the hardest things about being a Career Explorer is keeping the momentum going and staying focused. It’s easy to fall back on old habits, even with the new coping skills you developed. A well-crafted job search plan can keep you on track and give you results in less time than you expected. A job search shouldn’t be a full-time job, but with a solid and strategic plan, and steady progress, you will be ahead of the game when it comes to the majority of job seekers. There are several job search planning, schedules, and activity tracking templates that Noelle makes available to job searchers. I would highly recommend using these tools to stay on track.
Don’t fear change. Change is good and sometimes it is exactly what you need!
Fear of change is a big challenge for most people. The easy thing to do is stay put and ride things out and hope that everything gets better. But as a Career Explorer you know that’s no longer an option. In reality, change is rarely as hard as you think, but not changing can be harder than you imagine. Stepping out of your comfort zone is unsettling, but with good coping strategies, a little self-knowledge, a support system of friends and family, and a good plan you will soon realize that it’s the best thing you can do. Once you have clarity and start moving forward, you’ll find that all sorts of possibilities open up and that career fulfillment isn’t just a dream but is truly possible. Good job, Career Explorer, for being brave and knowing that change is needed for your own good. The future’s looking brighter already!