Building the game plan for the job you want...
Like it or not, your game plan to fulfil your purpose is something you have to write for yourself, no one else can tell you. Don’t worry though, it’s not all bad. In my experience, whilst there isn’t one magic algorithm to find you the ‘dream job’, there are some things you can do to help yourself along the way. Disclaimer: reading this article won’t find you that job but it can help you get there, so let’s take a look.
Since 2012, I have quit two jobs with no prospects lined up and I’ve had five different bosses that didn’t know how to get the best out of me. I always tried my best at work but something just wasn’t clicking. And so, even though I’d landed OK-paid jobs with nice enough colleagues, I didn’t actually ever want the job. And annoyingly, I didn’t have the answers to find the job I wanted either. I was unhappy. I didn’t know what to do. And I felt super unsuccessful.
With a series of confidence-damaging bosses behind me, I knew working for myself was the solution I wanted but, even then, to do what? I wasn’t professionally trained at this point, and I craved autonomy but I didn’t know how to create a living from (what felt like) nothing.
Since then, I’ve become an event professional, a facilitator, a founder, a coach, a workshop creator and a project manager. I’m sure there’s more to come. But it started from finding a glimmer of gold amongst a pile of uncertainty and being prepared to start at the bottom. Let me take you there.
I was back from a backpacking trip, I was unemployed and I was taking pretty much any shift-type work I could find that didn’t detract from me finding other jobs. During my hunt, I was fortunate enough to be offered some demo work from a board game company after networking at a board game convention. It was sporadic but it was fun and, after six months, it meant I was in the right place for an opportunity when it came up. It’s because of this role that I’ve been able to build up my portfolio career but, most importantly, my confidence and belief in myself.
Six steps to finding the job you want
1. Find one thing you like
Get yourself out of the house (or out of your head) and start doing this thing in some capacity or, at the least, exposing yourself to that world. Why? It builds your confidence in your abilities and it gets you meeting new people. I liked games so I started going to board game conventions. This is one of many things I tried!
Having done over 300 hours of coaching now and spoken to many friends who are two or three decades apart, I am realising the cold hard truth that you can’t put answers into a machine and have them spit out your dream career. And one of the most important things about this is because it takes work. Long, gruelling, tedious, heart-breaking, exhilarating work. And luck. But let’s be honest, luck doesn’t come from sitting alone waiting for someone to notice. It comes from taking action. Pick something you’d like to work in and take an action that gets you into new environments and ideally speaking to others associated with it.
2. Remember you’re on your own game plan of figuring your stuff out
Don’t project others’ game plans onto yours. Protect your why.
If you’re like me, at the start of this job search, you know nothing and it feels awful. You panic about your age, your CV, your friends affording more than you and anything else society tells you you should be hung up about. You don’t want to be asked any work questions when you meet new people, you don’t want to say you didn’t get the job... again, it sucks. Fight through it. Find the thing that grounds you, the thing that says, "I choose to be here. I choose to have this discomfort because I know if I do the work now, I will be able to enjoy it later."
And I don’t mean late-night, sell-your-soul-to-your-boss work, I mean the uncomfortable reflective, inner work that curls your toes and frankly, would make my parent’s generation scoff. That work. Because, unlike my parent’s age group, we don’t start work after school and leave that company 50 years later anymore. We don’t live until the average age of 71 anymore.
People who were born in 2007 are likely to live for 100 years. We’ve extended our life expectancy by a third since my dad was born! On average, now people have 12 jobs in their lifetime.
Why wouldn’t you challenge yourself to explore, try new things and maybe risk finding a job that you like for the best part of 50 years?
3. Know your values
People talk a lot about values, so do companies and, if you haven’t, it is worth thinking about your top five values. Values are what you stand for in life, they could be anything from loyalty to adventure, to courage to fun. The bottom line is, knowing your values can help you make decisions. It can also help you understand why you feel good or bad in certain situations and knowing that can help you find more of what it is you expect and desire in your life.
4. Take a step back from your job
Use this change in perspective to find the gold nuggets that can support you with the next step.
Community, structure and purpose (even if it’s temporary purpose) are roughly the basics of what people get from jobs. If you’re like most people, you will likely need to work whilst finding another job. Whilst this is happening, can you see it as an opportunity to build skills, get paid, and give you a reason to leave the house? Can you see it as a stepping stone?
This job is a building block in the ‘what next’. Use it to inform you of what you like, and what you don’t, and explore the opportunities it provides to make you more appealing for the next hire. For example, I knew I wanted to do more public speaking in my future career, therefore, I put myself forward for presenting internally and otherwise, even when it wasn’t expected of me. Find the gold nuggets.
5. Work out what is missing and what that looks and feels like
What would be the remedy to that?
To support us to understand our situation, I love a good metaphor. If you can put an image to how this feels, it can often help. What’s missing in your career? Is it that you have a ladder, but it’s just against the wrong wall? Is it that you don’t have a ladder at all? Or maybe you’re wading through a jungle and you can’t see the other side. Take some time to understand this. After all, just like in a game, if you don’t know how to ‘win’, how can you know how to play?
6. Know your allies and what you expect to get out of having that interaction
Find some allies. It can be lonely out there - talk to a professional coach, a recruiter, your friends, family, or whoever it is that can support you in a way that is useful. Early on in my job search, I realised that speaking to my mum about my CV was just stressful, unhelpful and confusing. She’s a retired physio, she didn’t know anything about event management or setting up a life coaching business and so I was, frankly, barking up the wrong tree!
How is a job-centric conversation with them useful to you and what can it offer you?
And just like I promised, by reading this article, you still won’t know what you want to do. But you have got some steps to protect your outlook whilst you try to figure it out. It isn’t necessarily quick, and it’s often not easy. But if you can take a deep breath and go through the process, respect it and respect yourself, I promise it’s worth it. Even if you realise that it’s not so bad where you are after all.