A-Z guide to finding work you love: W is for why
Welcome back to the A-Z guide to finding work you love, where W stands for 'Why'.
When it comes to making important career decisions, it's vital to ask this simple, most basic question, 'why?' Why do you want to make a career change right now? It's even more important than questions beginning with 'how', because the answer to this question will reveal your motivation. Without strong motivation, it will be hard to make the change even if you know how to do it. This may sound familiar especially if you're the type of person who constantly scrawls through online job boards without actually applying for anything!
It's important to engage with your emotions and be as specific as possible as you answer the 'why' question, because the stronger your motivation, the more likely you are to reach your goal regardless of the challenges, limiting beliefs and naysayers that you come across along the way.
How can coaching help?
Now let me give you a bit of an insight into the coaching process. Coaching is not about telling you what you should do, but it's about asking the right, insightful questions at the right time. So, I'll let you into a secret - I will rarely use the word 'why' when asking a client about their motivation, because it can come across as being aggressive, especially to someone whose hopes and dreams are fragile and just beginning to germinate. Therefore, I'll adopt a more gentle approach and ask questions which, fortunately for the purpose of this article, also begin with the letter 'w'.
So here are a few questions I'll often ask potential career changers at the start of our sessions together:
- What's important to you about making a change in your career now?
- What has stopped you from making a change before?
- What's important to you about your ideal work?
- What will it give you? What else?
- What is the experience you're looking for?
- What are you prepared to go through in order to achieve your goal (late nights, further study, drop in salary)?
In answering the first question, it's important to think about what you want to move towards, not simply about what you want to move away from. For example, your reason for making a change may be because you've had enough of the changes going on in your company or industry. This describes what you want to get away from. If you say that you want to work for a company that fits in with your lifestyle but also prioritises sustainability, this is what you want to move towards.
If you answer the above questions honestly, you may find that your reason for making a change may not be a sufficiently strong motivating factor. If this is the case, when the journey becomes challenging it can be easy to give up and stick with a role that may not give you fulfillment. Strange as it may seem, this is common. There could be a number of reasons for this e.g. fear of change or perhaps convincing yourself that your current situation isn't that bad and you should be grateful. So another question you could answer is this - what possible good reason could you have to stay where you are?
There's often a reason for staying put that's more powerful that you think. It could be because you get on well with your colleagues or it gives you the flexibility you need. These could be important core values to you. So in your honesty, be kind to yourself because it can be all too easy to allow negative self talk to dominate your mind if you find yourself in a perpetual state of indecision and confusion.
After answering all these probing questions, you may find that if a change is needed, a minor adjustment to your role might be all that's needed rather than a drastic change.
Stay tuned for the next letter in this series!
To see a vlog version of this article (from NYC, no less), click here.