Find Your Focus: 7 Simple Steps to Your Dream Career

Find Your Focus: 7 Simple Steps to Your Dream Career

Find Your Focus: 7 Simple Steps to Your Dream Career

Be Prepared…Even In A Crisis

As an Online Career Coach, Clients are asking me, “Are companies hiring now?” The answer is definitely, Yes! Companies are still hiring AND it is true that the future of the job market is a big unknown right now. If you want to get ahead, you need to find your focus now.

The truth is, many companies and a lot of industries will suffer, while others will still grow and continue to hire. As people begin to recognize the thriving companies, competition will drastically increase. It’s important to find your focus now and get ahead of the competition

To assist you on this journey, I have put together my 7 Simple Steps to Your Dream Career, but first, I want to discuss how to find your focus while job searching, working from home, and preparing for your next career move.

Find Your Focus – While Job Searching

The best thing you can do is be proactive. To find your focus while job searching, here are 3 key things you can do to get ahead and take charge of your job search.

  1. Target industries and companies that are growing despite the outbreak
  2. Be proactive by leveraging Linkedin to increase visibility and network online
  3. Be polite and persistent with your follow-ups and show empathy during the interview process

Find Your Focus – While Working From Home

If you are working from home and adjusting to a virtual work culture and wondering, “How do I get motivated and stay productive?” My answer is, “First, give yourself some grace, as you adjust to a remote work environment, which requires flexibility and adaptability.”

To find your focus while working from home, recreate your day by breaking it into three blocks of time. For example, Morning (from the time you wake up until Noon), Afternoon (Noon – 5pm), and Evening (5pm until the time you go to bed). 

Focus on managing only one block at a time by identifying your work responsibilities as well as your personal needs. Do your best to pace yourself and create balance. If you don’t get something done, let it go so you don’t fall into the habit of carrying it with you for the rest of your day or week. 

If you would like more advice on working from home, read: Working from Home: Be More Productive & Meet Your Deadlines!

Find Your Focus – While Preparing For Your Next Career Move

Here is how you can find your focus if you are unemployed, laid off, furloughed and wondering, “What do I do now?”

My answer is, “Once you have secured your unemployment benefits, turn your attention to the things that are within your control.”

Focus on things you can control right now in your job search, not on the things you can not. 

Things You Can Control:

Take action. Continue to develop and manage your job search action plan. Don’t yet have one? Now is the time to create one. Assign activities and for each day/week and work to address them systematically leaving room for adjustment as needed.

Prepare. A robust job search revolves around preparation. Take advantage of quieter times to reassess and update career tools, do research, or make virtual outreach with connections. 

Commitment. No need to take your foot off the gas, unless of course, circumstances warrant it (you fall ill or have other pressing family needs). Avoid distractions or an urge to sit back and wait. Remaining on top of job search tasks and outreach may put you at an advantage.

Emotions. If you are starting to feel overly anxious or overwhelmed, reach out for help. Speak to a licensed therapist or career coach about how you are feeling and take a break. It is healthy to build breaks into your job search activities (go for a walk, read a good book, listen to music, take a nap).

7 Simple Steps To Your Dream Career

Regardless of the unique situation you find yourself in, we are all dealing with a heightened level of stress, anxiety and uncertainty that not only impacts our livelihood, but also our health, safety, and general well-being.

There’s a TON of information circulating in the media – some good, some bad, some true, some false and it can feel overwhelming to say the least. When overwhelmed we can easily become paralyzed and do nothing, or do things that just aren’t productive or helpful in caring for ourselves and our future. 

As a licensed mental health professional and online career coach, I am not immune to the stress and anxiety that is fueling many of our reactions and decisions during these uncertain times. However, I am grateful for my coping skills and career tools to help me channel this frenetic energy into creating resources for my clients so that they can THRIVE! 

With that said, I have compiled 7 Simple Steps to Your Dream Career that I hope will boost your spirits, help you take charge during this time of crisis, and find your focus again. 

Slow Down, Re-evaluate, And Find Clarity

This pandemic is forcing us to use the resources we have in a creative way as we are pushed out of our comfort zones. This can bring to light new opportunities and ways of doing things that are more aligned with our strengths and values.

Get clear on the value you add (think outside the box). This is the BEST time to plan to be on top once the crisis is over.

Reframe Worry And Concern As Opportunity

Getting involved in serving others can boost your spirits and be a healthy distraction from the constant state of worry and concern. 

How can you look for opportunities to support others (businesses, communities, and industries)?
What do they need right now and how can you provide value at the greatest time of need? 

Invest In Yourself

This is one of the best times to invest in yourself. Learn new skills, take online courses, start projects, listen to podcasts, and focus on strengthening your mindset.

Stay positive and keep your head up!

Keep Your Options Open

Do not leave jobs out of desperation and do not take jobs out of desperation. Uncertainty can lead people to do things they may not normally do. 

You may feel as if you have to take a job that you aren’t happy with or a job that pays significantly less. Keep your options open and think about what is best for you long term as you are making decisions.

Reallocate Your Time

Are you buying back time since you no longer have a commute? The job market is evolving rapidly, if you want to get results you have to act now. 

Define your job search process, create a daily schedule and stick to it, update your resume, optimize your LinkedIn profile, and create a list of contacts that you want to network with. 

Be Adaptable, Flexible, And Patient

Know that job searching almost always takes longer than you think.

Putting together a great resume can take a professional resume writer a whole week; putting together a well-researched target company list can take days; setting networking appointments can take weeks and that’s under normal circumstances!

Stay Relevant And Prepare

If you’re preparing for an interview you’ll want to feel confident in talking about how you’re thriving through this situation. 

For example, “What did you do to control your “controllables?” “How did you handle the things you couldn’t control?” 

Be prepared to have your phone and video conference interviewing skills honed. Make sure you know how to use the equipment to conduct the interview. Do a test run with a friend. 

Be prepared for a longer than normal hiring process as employers have to base their data through the camera lens versus in-person. They may want to bring you into the office to meet you and that may take time.

Find Your Focus – Prepare But Don't Panic

I get it, everything is so uncertain right now and it can be very nerve-wracking! I would caution you to filter what information you are consuming and if you notice your anxiety level increasing, take a break and catch your breath. 

Setting your phone down or not checking the news for a couple of hours offers a much-needed reprieve from the stress of current events.

During this time prepare but don't panic. Think about what you need to do now to find your focus and give yourself security and peace. Maybe that’s managing your mental health, supporting your personal growth, designing a career plan, updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, connecting with recruiters in your industry, amping up your online networking efforts, or engaging more with your current connections. 

You don’t want to be blindsided and it’s not disloyal to your current employer to take the necessary precautions to manage your own career.

Please know that professional support is available to you! You don’t have to figure it all out on your own and having a career coach can help you gain the clarity you need to move forward and plan for a bright future. 

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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3 Essential Steps to Make Informed Career Decisions

3 Essential Steps to Make Informed Career Decisions

3 Essential Steps to Make Informed Career Decisions

Secrets to Career Success

Meet Mollie, she is 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 what her goals are for her future. 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 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. You are not alone. Mollie took action by making the decision to invest in a career coach to help her gain clarity, confidence, and direction she needed to get unstuck and move forward. As a career coach, I wanted to share with you what I share with my career coaching clients, here are my top 3 Essential Steps to Making Informed Career Decisions!

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 seemly 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. 

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 5 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 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. And finally, to develop a comprehensive action plan that showcases both your strengths and accomplishments so that you are following a career path that is meaningful and satisfying, and supports your lifestyle.

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!

We believe in you and your success!

 

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

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How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

Developing Your Soft Skills

[social_warfare]

Fewer things impact your overall satisfaction with your job than the quality of the coworker relationships you have with your peers and leadership. Research into workplace satisfaction reported by MIT’s Sloan Management Review indicates that having positive coworker relationships can increase your creativity, make you more resilient emotionally, and enjoy your work more. All of these help you feel more connected to your career, your workplace and enjoy your job. 

In contrast, feeling disconnected (or worse, in conflict) with your coworkers leads to disengagement from your work, reduced sense of satisfaction with or loyalty to your organization, lower productivity, more stress, and even a toxic workplace environment.

Having positive coworker relationships is vitally important. Playing well with others matters. Here are some tips to developing soft skills that I share with my career coaching clients on how to strengthen coworker relationships– no matter where your work takes place!

Prioritize Positive Interactions

It’s true, technology has interfered with building these important relationships at work. Messaging, email, and virtual meetings often replace chatting together in the breakroom or casual conversations in the hallway. This can create an absence of friendly small talk that leads to closer connections. Particularly if you work at home, you may feel that your interactions with your coworkers are limited to “all business, all the time.”

But even those working in a traditional workplace setting find building effective relationships to be difficult to create and navigate. Particularly when your day is packed with meetings and deliverables, it can be hard to find the time to connect with a coworker on a human-to-human level.

Thankfully, the simplest, most effective relationship-building tools take almost no time at all. Smiling (emojis count), friendly greetings, expressions of empathy, words of appreciation, and questions that convey your interest in the other person as a human being will go a long way in building trust and rapport with your coworkers.

Respect Differences

Not everyone views a work project the same as you do. It’s OK to disagree. Be sure you use a respectful tone and if you are angry, slow down. Consider the best time and approach for voicing your opinion.

Think Positive

Have you ever worked with someone who pretty much killed every idea you’ve ever presented? If so, you know how tough working on their team can be and how little engagement you’ll want with this coworker. Bring good questions and bring solutions to the table for your concerns.

Acknowledge Your Coworkers

A simple “good morning” or “how was your weekend?” is often all it takes. Planning a breaktime walk or coffee together can be a great way to get to know the people you work with everyday.

Practice Listening

Hear your coworkers out, don’t interrupt in meetings, ask for clarification of ideas and let your coworkers know you’re listening. Learning to effectively listen will open conversation up organically. 

Keep Your Commitments

Your work affects everyone on the team. If you commit to a timeline for completing a project, make it happen. Coworkers quickly learn who can be trusted to get their work finished on time.

Share Credit Where Credit is Due

Nothing kills trust like stealing coworkers’ ideas and presenting them as your own. It will be tough to rebuild trust, and your teammates may begin to withhold important ideas and information from you as a result. If it’s your idea, shine. If it’s not, let someone else shine.

What skill will you practice this week? Share with us in the comments section below!

Wishing you success,
Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT

[social_warfare]

Linda Pounds, M.A, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage/Family Therapist (LMFT) and Certified Emotional Intelligence Leadership Coach at Growing Self. She works with individuals and couples who face the challenge of merging their work lives with personal lives and the impact each has on the other. Her work with leaders and leadership teams includes Emotional Intelligence (EI) Coaching and assessments, leading to a positive impact on individuals and organizations.

Let's  Talk

Read More by Linda

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Finding a Career You Love: Career Change Advice

Finding a Career You Love: Career Change Advice

Finding a Career You Love: Career Change Advice

Career Change Advice to Move You Forward

[social_warfare]

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver

Finding a Career You Love

Have you been considering a career change? Sometimes, the first, hardest step is getting clear about what it is that you want to do. But even with that clarity, there can be other obstacles that need to be worked through before you can find a career that you love. Questions like:

  • Should I go back to school?
  • How will changing careers impact my family?
  • What career is congruent with who I really am?
  • What am I truly capable of?
  • Should I take a leap, or should I make an incremental change?
  • Should I just focus on improving the career I'm currently in?

How — Or If — To Change Careers

Expert Advice From a Master Career Coach

On today's show, we're discussing:

  • How to figure out if you're having “escape fantasies” and if so, how to avoid making mistakes in your career.
  • The myth of the perfect career, vs what a realistic “career experience” should be.
  • Escape fantasies vs making slight shifts
  • Differences around career changes between men and women
  • The utility of taking a career assessment test, or career placement test
  • How to use your dark emotions to illuminate your career truth
  • How to manage career challenges unique to different stages of life

No matter if you're a recent graduate looking to get clarity about what you want to do with your life, if you're in an established career that you're feeling dissatisfied and discouraged with, or if you're getting back into the workforce after taking a break, or dealing with a layoff, you'll definitely want to hear this great career advice.

Here are a few of the career resources we discussed on today's show:

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

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Got Laid Off? Here’s How to Deal.

Got Laid Off? Here’s How to Deal.

It’s Not Your Fault: Recovering from a Layoff

[social_warfare]

After many years of experience as a career coach, and executive coach, and after working with hundreds of career coaching clients who have experienced a layoff, I’ve noticed a pattern. At the beginning of our first conversation, we talk about resumes because it seems like an important step (and it is) in the process of moving through this painful quagmire. It’s only after we’ve covered applicant tracking systems, branding, LinkedIn, and other practical, tactical topics that people trust me enough to pose the questions that whisper to them at night, the ones they’re afraid to say out loud:

  • Where did I go wrong?
  • Is there hope for me?
  • How will I get through this?
  • How do I talk to people about this?

There’s more: tension with their spouse, embarrassment in casual social interactions like the carpool for their kids’ school, loss, and loneliness because their community is suddenly gone, an aimlessness – or at the opposite end of the spectrum – an obsession and fierce dedication to using every minute of every day for their job search.

It’s hard.

And there’s hope. You WILL get through a layoff, or job loss. Here’s how:

1. Find a safe listening ear. It’s vital that you create the opportunity to explore these and other questions that haunt you. If you get stuck on the gerbil wheel in your head, there’s a good chance you’ll keep spinning there.

Look, here’s the truth: most of the time a layoff has nothing to do with you. I liken it to being in a car accident. The road conditions weren’t good, and you ended up in a ditch. Or, to continue the driving metaphor, another driver (your company’s overly ambitious strategic plan, for example) smacked into you like a careless texter behind the wheel. We reflexively search for things we could have done to steer past this collision (“I should have seen it coming and found another job last spring when there were signs,” or “If I’d had that extra credential, I would have been more valuable”).

It’s important to ask these questions about where you might have shifted gears and done something different because if you can harvest these insights while they’re fresh, you’ll be less likely to repeat whatever misstep brought you here. But I have a significant database of clients who have been through a layoff, and it’s almost always not their fault. It’s just like an unfortunate car accident. Wrong place, wrong time.

So, extroverts: find someone to listen to you. You have to get it out of your head, so you can make sense of it. Introverts: write about it and then share your reflections because you have to be witnessed through this process. Bring it to me or any other coach here on Growing Self. Other possible safe spots to find a listening ear:

  • A job search group (this really helps because you realize that you’re not alone)
  • Your place of faith (there are often groups in churches and synagogues and temples focused around job search, and if there isn’t, the person who leads your congregation hears from people just like you all the time)
  • A trusted friend (someone who knows how to listen – you might even design something with them so that they know that you want to be heard, not to get advice)

It’s tough to have these vulnerable conversations with your spouse or romantic partner, your parents, or others you live with because they are so closely aligned with you and it’s really hard for them to separate their own worries from yours. They’re concerned about money, what they’ll say to people close to them, or they may not know how to manage their own strong emotions. So, the people closest to you tend to the ones you consider seeking out for these conversations, and they can also surprise you at how awkward the conversation can become.

2. Focus on your self-care. Attend to the basics:

  • Regular workouts (it’s actually very helpful to many people to be outside regularly – there’s something replenishing about the natural world for these folks)
  • Eating nourishing foods (rather than comfort foods, as enticing as these seem)
  • Getting adequate sleep (when you’re out of a regular routine, you may have difficulty when it comes to getting up in the morning and that can slide into an erratic sleep schedule, and when it comes to an interview date, if you’re off kilter with your sleep, that can throw off your game).
  • Monitor your screen time (spending time online for networking, establishing your presence on LinkedIn, and viewing job postings is important, and it can quickly become your singular focus – and it’s so easy to fall into the black hole of distraction that the online world offers)

Many of us benefit from a structure during times when we’re out of routine. It’s tough to create your own structure, especially when you’re depleted and your worries are elevated, so be kind to yourself during this phase of your life and recognize that you don’t need to overhaul your whole life. Your financial, energetic, and inspirational reserves are likely to be low right now. Do the best that you can and ask for help before you think you need it. Specific suggestions include:

  • Can you ask a former work colleague to meet you for walk (so that you reconnect and also get in some exercise)?
  • If you notice that sugar and familiar comfort foods are dominating your diet, consider scheduling one or two comfort meals intentionally during the week so that you have specific times that you offer them to yourself – that can make it easier to eat nourishing foods at other times during the week.
  • Schedule networking meetings in the morning so that you have an external motivation to get up early and be ready for those connection opportunities. Meet other job seekers at a coffee shop in the morning to get your day jump started.
  • Set some parameters around your screen time so that you have some downtime from your search and from input that may undermine your confidence and energy.

3. Rehearse predictable social interactions. “I don’t want to tell anyone about my layoff,” one of my clients told my recently. He was embarrassed about it, worried that he’d been targeted in the wave of layoffs, and he wasn’t sure what people in his life would think of him.

Take control of this narrative,” I told him. Former colleagues and other professional contacts will find out eventually. It’s best if they hear it from you in a way that handily dismisses concerns. Even loose connections, people you see at the gym or your neighbors, will become advocates for you if you intentionally loop them in to what you’re experiencing. There’s no need to overshare, and there’s no need to hide.

If you consider what you’ll say in advance of these casual and chance encounters, your words will flow easily. Some tips for this process include:

  • Keep it short.
  • Put things in context. Remember my client who was worried that he was targeted in the round of layoffs at his company? That layoff included >10,000 people worldwide. It’s hard to see the decision as personal when it’s clear that the resource reallocation was widespread. Even if just a few people were affected, let people know you weren’t the only person. If you were the only person, don’t worry, it happens. Simply offer some context for the decision that’s neutral (such as a budget shortfall).
  • End on what’s next for you. The more specific you can be, the better.
  • Example: “I was one of several people let go last week due to restructuring at my company. I’ve already started applying to companies in X industry for Y roles. Will you keep your ears open and let me know if you hear of anything that might fit me?”

While I’ve had a handful of clients who cheered when they were laid off (either because they wanted to pursue their own consulting work and they had a severance package that seeded their next chapter or because the environment at their former company was so toxic that they could finally breathe), most people go through significant emotional turmoil because of their layoff. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. And you don’t have to go through this process alone. I hope that these tips help you find your way through.

 

Schedule Your Free Consultation With Maggie

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