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Do you really know what you want?

Do you really know what you want?

Clients engage a career coach for different reasons. Two common frustrations are 1) a longing to see the fruits of their labour, and 2) a desire to feel they have contributed and are a valuable asset to the organization that employs them. If you’re feeling like this; here are a few tips I’ve shared with my clients this week that may help you get un-stuck from your current situation.

Stop waiting for a magic bullet solution. – If you’re waiting for someone to recognize how awesome you are and what a remarkable contribution you make to the organization, …DON’T! It is not going to happen (if it does, super. Just don’t sit around waiting for it to happen). The same is true when thinking that the right job is going to fall out of the sky and into your lap. “If a better job comes around I’ll….” The perfect job doesn’t ‘come around’,  you have to go out and hunt it down.

Get clear on what you want – Are you clear about what you want? What projects do you want to work on? Who would you prefer to work with? Are you working on projects that will advance your career? Would you like to change your work schedule? Once you have identified what you want, it is much easier to find a path to achieve it. What would it take to make all of those ‘wants’ a reality? Most of us get stuck here because we think we know what we want, but when we’re challenged to articulate our wants, we are often at a loss.

Set your intention – It is hard to accomplish a negative goal and it is especially difficult when you are aiming it towards someone else. ( i.e. “I wish my boss would stop being an idiot!”) You can’t change another person’s behaviour, you can instead change your response to it. Rather than write a nasty letter outlining what an idiot your boss is for not seeing your potential and value; why not take a few moments to describe, in detail, what he/she is missing out on when not taking full advantage of your talents.  (Write this in a nice, helpful way, not in a nasty, mean way). What is the organization missing by not using you to your fullest potential? What are they not seeing in you that you would LOVE to be offering them? How could they use your skills more fully to help the organization achieve better results? Go ahead – tell them everything! Don’t send it …keep it to yourself. Review it, go over it, again and again until you’re sure it’s exhaustive.

Identify what you’d rather be doing. – Taking the time to write these things out, gives you adequate time for reflection and engages your mind in positive way (rather than negative). When you allow yourself the time to write out a list of things you would rather be doing at work…

  • …it helps you focus on the positive…
  • …it takes your attention away from negativity in the workplace and re-direct it towards something action-oriented and therefore…
  • …it gives you something to work towards…
  • …it helps you clarify what you want, which in turn…
  • …makes it easier for you to recognize opportunities when they appear, and pursue them as you see fit.

Write your dream job ad – Turn off the editor in your head who says you can’t do what you want because you don’t have the right skills, education, connections, resume, references, experience. Instead, put together a list of things you LOVE to do, and find ways to incorporate or pursue these in your day-to-day life (hint: it doesn’t all have to come from your job, you can incorporate some of these into your hobbies, groups, and extracurricular activities). Most importantly – write your ideas down, so that you are clear on what they are. When I do this exercise with my clients, often, people think they know what they want, yet find themselves staring at a blank page for a lot longer than they thought they might. Go ahead, take a few minutes to write out examples of the type of job you want, the things you’ll be doing at that job, the people you’ll associate with, the work you’ll do, the challenges you’ll face, the pay you’ll earn…

Stop dividing your attention – Is your focus divided? Do you set life goals without considering career goals and vice versa? The two are intermingled so it is important to consider how the two play together. When making family plans, your career is a factor. When making career plans, your family is a factor. So decide first what you want to achieve (i.e. a year-long sabbatical) and how you can make that happen with the support of both your employer and your family.

Each of the above tasks may help you direct your career in a more positive fashion. When you make a conscious choice to work towards a goal, this alone may prevent you from falling into work you don’t enjoy. You’ll be able to say ‘yes’ more quickly to things that align with your goals. You’ll also be able to recognize and choose how to respond to tasks that are not aligned to your goals. Taking the time to clarify what you want will ensure you remain on the right path, and keep you from sliding into tasks and assignments that are not of interest to you and your career future.

When you empower yourself to make your own decisions you feel more in control in your career. Most importantly, you’ll be focused on something positive when others may not, and that will help you stand out as an employee. This improves your brand, and others may even take note of your positive outlook –and that could lead to many more open doors.

Happy hunting!

Related Categories: Career Clarity, Job Search

About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.

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