Meet Mollie, a busy mid-career professional who holds a high-stress position with a large company and is struggling to define her professional identity and feel secure in her career decisions.
She wishes she woke up feeling fulfilled and energized to tackle her goals, but there’s just one problem – she’s not entirely sure of her future goals. Because of that, Mollie is often consumed by negative thoughts and worries about the uncertainty of her indecisions. She is lacking presence in her relationships and with herself and feels stuck sitting at a hesitation station.
What she really wants is to gain clarity and confidence so that she can move forward, let go of the past, and find more meaning along her career path, instead of making excuses. Ultimately Mollie wants to live her life to the fullest, get unstuck for good, and be happy and successful in her work-life.
You might be able to relate to ALL or parts of Mollie’s experience. If so, you are not alone. As a life coach and career coach, I am all too familiar with the desire to see change but the inability to find the answer to “How?” My clients, like you, are searching for answers to the questions:
How can I find a career I love?
How can I become self-employed?
How do I find my passion? How do I get unstuck?
How do I move forward in my career?
If you’ve been asking yourself these questions, too, I have three career decision making skills that will help you move forward and get unstuck. In particular, I want to share with you one very key skill in discovering your answers – creating an action plan.
Career Decision-Making Skills
The three skills to help you make a more informed career decision are developing self-awareness, exploring career options that fit your personality, and, perhaps most important, creating an action plan to reach your goals. Together, they can help you create the life you want to live.
1. Become Self-Aware
Searching for the right career path requires establishing a career plan. A critical part of the career planning process is becoming self-aware, before even identifying career options and making important career decisions. Finding a path for your career that is meaningful and satisfying requires self-assessment to gain the self-awareness you’ll need to make informed career decisions. This means exploring your true interests and passions, your values and personality preferences, as well as your strengths and transferable skills.
WHO before WHAT
Gaining clarity about WHO you are will naturally lead you in the right direction towards WHAT it is that you want to do. This holds true whether you are a recent graduate and just launching your career or if you are an early, mid or late-career professional who is looking for greater satisfaction in your current role or making a career change. There are several other factors that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to making important career decisions – Such as, what is your ideal work environment, what level of responsibility do you want and desire, and what are your salary requirements and preferences?
2. Career Planning
Career planning helps you develop the “picture of your ideal job”. By exploring first WHO you are, followed by researching possible career and work options that fit your personality, you will be better equipped to consider economic realities and make important career decisions in a thoughtful way.
The first step of career planning that will most certainly inform your career decisions, is to ask yourself a few questions that probably don’t initially seem very career-focused. By answering these 3 seemingly simple questions, you will have more self-knowledge about your interests.
- In your free time, what do you like to do?
- What are your hobbies? You may not have realized it until now, but many hobbies are also industries. Therefore, if you identify a favorite hobby, you may also have identified a favorite field. This applies whether you are just starting out or itching for a change.
- When friends come to you for help with problems or questions, what are the kinds of problems or questions for which they seek your advice?
Create The Life You Envision
It is possible to transform your interests into job targets. This is a process that I coach my career coaching clients through to help them create the kind of life that they envision for themselves. Especially those who feel like they are stuck in a rut and want to do something that feels more like they are truly making a difference at the end of the day. The focus is on both self-understanding and gaining knowledge about the job market.
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The second key step of the career planning process is to identify your strengths and transferable skills. What makes a transferable skill a strength is when you identify the skill as something you are highly proficient in and that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, and it’s not important to you, then it’s not a true strength.
What Are Transferable Skills?
They are the basic building blocks of a job that are not rooted in any particular field or content. A transferable skill is a developed aptitude or ability and is considered a functional skill. I help my clients identify their top five transferable skills through a combination of formal and informal assessments. This brings clarity, validation, and confidence to their strengths and ability to move to the next steps of career goal setting.
3. Develop an Action Plan
The third step, which may be the most important of all, is to know that career decision-making is a process that takes time. It involves retrieving comparative information about career options, testing assumptions and drawing conclusions, and looking at the pros and cons of the different job targets that have been identified. An action plan is central to this step.
What is an Action Plan?
A comprehensive action plan is a tool that spells out the steps you need to take toward your goals. It’s more than just a road map, though. A road map can’t tell you how much gas you’ll need for the trip, whether you’ll run into traffic, what to pack for the ride, or what kind of weather you might expect. For that, you need a more detailed plan, one that includes specific information like an action plan.
What is the Purpose of an Action Plan?
An action plan showcases both your strengths and accomplishments so that you are following a career path that is meaningful and satisfying, and supports your lifestyle. It also identifies obstacles and barriers, so you can anticipate them and find realistic ways to work around them or avoid them altogether.
How an Action Plan Will Help You Create the Life You Want
Use what you’ve learned about yourself through self-awareness exercises and career pathing to create a checklist of the steps you need to take to reach your goals and a record of what you’ve already accomplished. Including your strengths and resources and developing a timeline for your goals can keep you grounded, confident, and ready for your next steps.
Set Yourself up for Success
If you truly want to get a head start in your career, whether you are just starting out or making a significant career change, first you have to be willing to explore who you are on a deeper level. What you are choosing to do for a living is not just a job that provides a paycheck, it is something that inspires you and motivates you to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
The career planning and decision-making process is not a fast track to success; however, if you take the time to gain clarity about your requirements and preferences you will set yourself up for long-term success, not just short-term gratification.
And lastly, feeling confident in the decisions you make about your life and your future is empowering. When you feel empowered it shows in your actions and success is accelerated along your chosen career path because you are more focused, strategic, and values-driven.
Once Mollie was able to identify and acknowledge her true strengths and values, her confidence in herself grew and her motivation for creating positive change in her life became unstoppable. She began to advocate for herself more at work and received a promotion that provided her with the level of responsibility and support that she desired. She also gained greater clarity about the skill areas that she wants to further develop and as a result, she created a short term and long-term plan for her success.
Mollie is happy in her new role and trusts that her career planning will keep her from feeling stuck. She has a renewed sense of purpose at work that has positively influenced other important areas of her life.
You can find this level of support and success in your own career journey!
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