How to find the right career for you

We spend a lot of time at work. In fact, if we work full time for 40 years of life, we can expect to spend around 80,000 hours at work. That's a really long time. A lot can be accomplished in 80,000 hours.

There's a rule called the 10,000 hour rule, that says you can become a master or mistress of anything if you dedicate 10,000 hours to practice. What would you choose to master in your working lifetime?

Considering how long most of us spend at work, it is surprising how little we spend planning or choosing the right career for us. Think about your most recent holiday or day out. How much planning time did you give it? Did you do some research? Speak to friends who had been there before? Shop for a bargain?

Have you invested the same level of effort in designing your career?

There's a reason many of us are in careers that we don't really like. We usually 'fell' into them rather than chose them. We did this because education doesn't really have a place for self-discovery. To find a career you love, you need three things.

  • You need to know enough about yourself to define your skills, talents and where you might be happy.
  • You need to know enough about the world of work to get going on finding a fit.
  • You need confidence and competence in job searching in the 21st century world of work.

Most of my clients are very smart people. Many of them have fantastic qualifications and experience. Yet, throughout their career they have rarely been asked: "what does success mean to you?".

Most of us assume that success means more money and more status. That might be true for some of us, but is it true for you? The first step in unpacking a career coaching client's wants and desires, is to give you permission to really ask yourself how you define success.

You see, we are constantly bombarded with lots of definitions of success that are not ours. These can lead to confusion as we try to conform to what is expected of us, or what we think we should want.

Here are a few examples of what clients discover about how they personally define success. They typically experience:

  • lots more free time
  • better work/life balance
  • doing more work that 'matters to me'
  • having more flexibility about when and where I work
  • working in a cutting-edge field
  • working with people I like
  • solving tricky problems
  • having a different experience every day
  • being recognised for doing a great job

What's your definition of success?

What kind of results do you want your work to generate for you?

The next issue on our agenda is to find out more about who you are and what makes you tick. A good way to think about this is to look at the natural world. In the natural world, each plant and animal has a very specific design which makes them fit for their environment. A cactus has a very efficient water storage mechanism so that it can thrive in the desert. A polar bear has thick fur and big claws for hunting and surviving in the cold.

You too have a specific set of features and equipment that make you perfect for some environments, but not for every environment. People often get stuck because they have too many career options in front of them. What we want to do is to confidently narrow the field by focusing only on the options that suit your design.

For example, an individual may be a fantastic strategic thinker, but put her in the detail and the day to day and she really struggles. This helps to explain why some roles in the past may have felt like such a poor fit. 

Sometimes it isn't anything wrong with you - it's just a misalignment between your design and the environment/job.

So consider - what is it that makes you, you? What is so innate to your way of thinking and working that you could not stop doing it if you tried? Then consider - what roles might suit someone like that?

Great places to start your research on where you might find a fit are job boards such as Indeed or LinkedIn, where you can find job profiles and review the skills and capabilities sought for those roles. 

iCloud is another fantastic resource. It's a collection of hundreds of videos of different professionals talking about their working day and their environment. 

Over and over I have found that when clients know how they define success and how they are 'built', finding a role and deciding on their next steps becomes a whole lot easier. With clarity comes decisive action; with action comes change. Go get 'em tiger!

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