Home » Career Development

Category: Career Development

5 Reasons to Take the road less travelled and succeed

Take the road less travelled

Have you been lead to believe that a career path is linear and prescribed and should be followed like a set formula; and if you don’t, the likelihood of success is marginal or is at best the luck-of-the-draw.

A non-traditional career path is not always the most comfortable approach, but it is one that can make job candidates more appealing to a smart recruiter or hiring manager. In my experience, intentionally making myself uncomfortable has helped me develop a more holistic skill set. For some, a non-traditional career path can be too challenging to handle. However, I have learned that you do not need to stifle internal anxiety about making big career changes. It is natural, and an opportunity to learn and grow personally and professionally. The key is to use that discomfort productively and ultimately master the situations that seem overwhelming at first.

There are (at least) five lessons I have learned throughout my career in which taking the “easy” route would have been perfectly acceptable, but by taking the road less travelled I gained much bigger rewards.

  1. DON’T OBSESS OVER BIG BRANDS OR LOGOS

Early on, I threw away the notion that big employer brands matter. Choosing to focus on a lesser-known company where the learning opportunities are exponentially higher will almost always bring your the rewards you are looking for. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that working at a big company with a reputable brand can be very good for professionals especially at the beginning of your career.

Big brands have the resources to train people well. If however, you desire a career with velocity and autonomy, a big company is not where you want to spend the entirety of your career. Many people who have grand career aspirations become dependent on navigating internal politics based on their employer’s logo and become less focused on the actual work. Large companies tend to be complex, bureaucratic organizations. While they might be highly competitive and impress your friends and family, you may be unable to progress your career quickly.

For me, moving on from a well-known brand allowed me to manage a large team at a young age; something that would have taken me years to achieve had I been concerned with working my way up the corporate ladder. This is the type of intangible experience that gives a career velocity.

if you are passionate about marketing but realized you want a broader scope as an example; working for a large company can  train you well for the workforce. If you know you want more, it is going to show. So make the choice and move to a smaller company that is perhaps less well-known, but where you can challenge yourself with roles and responsibilities that would have taken years to achieve elsewhere.

  1. TACKLE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS HEAD-ON

As a woman, it’s vital to force yourself to have uncomfortable conversations with your managers about other priorities in your life, specifically if you have children and family obligations. You must set expectations both at work and at home to achieve enough balance to thrive in each environment. As a younger woman, finding your voice and setting those boundaries with your supervisors and senior managers can be challenging and intimidating. I have witnessed many young women burn out because they pretended that they did not have obligations outside of the office and instead poured the majority of their energy into their work. But that is not reality.

More recently, COVID-19 and the work-from-home culture has made having a family very apparent. You can’t hide the fact that kids are home because they are bursting into your home office, interrupting Zoom calls, and have home-school schedules that require your attention. It has brought about a reckoning. Previously, uncomfortable expectation-setting conversations about family responsibilities were mostly relegated to women, but that is starting to shift. The pandemic has democratized this aspect of work-life balance by making it more ubiquitous and gender-neutral.

  1. FIND AND LEARN FROM ALL TYPES OF LEADERS

The truth is that no one, not even an executive, is good at everything. Some are amazing people managers and fantastic at leading a team. Others are the wicked-smart types, geniuses but genuinely terrible at managing people.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the chance to work for, and learn from, the full spectrum of leaders. I spent several years working for a mentor who was a great leader of people and manager of teams. Later I went to work at an organization where my manager wasn’t a particularly great people-leader. Still, they were smart and creative and I gained a lot of important functional experience.

It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect leader, and often we don’t get to choose who we work for. It often comes down to taking the initiative to recognize and learn from the strengths of whoever your leaders are at a given moment and translating both their strengths and weaknesses into skills that you can use in the future.

  1. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

Looking back, I have always taken on tasks and responsibilities that were “below my pay grade” as a way to build trust with my team. I will get into the weeds and write email copy, or go to meetings where I’m not expected. Even now, I often do things that others would consider to be their direct responsibility.

Doing the unexpected builds trust, affinity, and goodwill with your teams. It also builds credibility because you show your team members that you are a good practitioner, not just a figurehead devising strategy. It also throws ego out the door. When your team knows that if they need help with something, all they have to do is ask you and we will tackle it together. I believe this approach creates a healthy culture and establishes your role as a leader. Nobody wants to work for someone who delegates responsibility and is incapable of understanding what the real work looks like and what it takes for teams to be productive.

 

  1. DO NOT LET ANXIETIES OWN YOU

Some people are very risk-averse and they do not like a lot of change inmost aspects of their lives. If your career is the antithesis of your personality and you have found that when managing the anxiety that accompanies uncomfortable situations and challenging decisions you endure throughout your career, you have to move through it and not let it own you.

For some people, the anxiety that accompanies navigating a career can be an unpleasant nagging, but it can be downright debilitating for others. By acknowledging its presence and moving through the discomfort, you learn how to manage it rather than let it manage you. Some people may view it as a weakness. I am proof that you can allow discomfort to exist and turn it into a tool to not only survive but to thrive.

Helping Hand

What are Career Limiting Beliefs, Habits & Behaviours

Helping Hand
I can Help you

Career limiting habits (CLHs) are, repeated behaviours that keep us from greater success or enjoyment in our careers. These apply really to all aspects of our life. Research has shown that most of us are aware of our career limiting habits but have not made much progress in addressing them.

 

What are self limiting Behaviours in the context of our careers

This behaviour is when you hear that little voice start talking to you out of doing great things.

Self-limiting beliefs in your career includes thinking

you are too inexperienced for a job, or a promotion opportunity

believing you shouldn’t take a risk because you’ll fail,

thinking it is too late to change careers or find the job/career of your dreams

thinking or believing you don’t need more money because you are comfortable.

 

Self-Limiting Behaviours & Beliefs That Hinder Your Career Success

  • Seeking perfection. There is no perfection in life. The highest we can aim for is excellence.
  • Pleasing everyone. This is humanly impossible. While you can certainly please some people some of the time, you cannot please everyone all of the time.
  • Controlling people and things. This is not a fun nor a healthy way of living.

If you want success to find you attractive and be associated with you. You need to avoid doing these 7 things.

  • Procrastination – an automatic, negative, problem habit of needlessly postponing and delaying a timely and relevant activity until another day or time. This is often a result of being afraid of failing at the tasks that they need to complete. or even start.

There are four main types of avoidance archetypes, or procrastinators: the performer, the self-deprecator, the over-booker, and the novelty seeker. Figuring out which group you’re in can help you break out of your procrastination patterns

  • Fear of Failure – when we allow fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.

This fear often stems from childhood, perfectionism, ego and over-personalization, and a lack of confidence.  At the root of failure and the fear of failure is shame, which is a very unpleasant emotion associated with feeling like one is a bad person, or has a flawed or defective self. It also brings up fears of what others will think of us post-failure.

  • Ignorance – can appear in three different types: factual ignorance (absence of knowledge of some fact), object ignorance (unacquaintance with some object), and technical ignorance (absence of knowledge of how to do something). Ignorance can kill you! Lack of knowledge, stupidity and deception of yourself and others are all life denying and can destroy happiness and meaning in your life.

 

  • Lack of Purpose –We need to have a purpose in our lives. Purpose gives us direction, it motivates us, it gives reason for our existence. It also helps make decisions, both minor and major. Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. It’s not about some great achievement, but merely finding a way to spend your limited amount of time well.

 

  • Lack of Courage – You need courage to begin something. … Courage is the secret sauce that allows you to act despite your fears. Courage gives you the ability to put aside your fear of failure and take the first steps. Courage helps you overcome the fear of rejection and engage your stakeholders.

 

  • Fault Finding – to criticize someone or something, often after deliberately looking for mistakes. When we find fault with others, we tell ourselves that there is not much work to be done regarding our own shortcomings.

Faultfinders are almost always tell others, in one form or another, what he or she should be doing. When you make demands on other people, you send the message that you not only disagree with them, but that they have violated some standard. That is misleading.

 

Lack of Self-belief – An inability to believe in o ne-self due to Low self-esteem  characterized by a lack of confidence and feeling badly about oneself. People with low self-esteem often feel unlovable, awkward, or incompetent.

 

 Get Rid of Your Limiting Beliefs

If you need help removing any of your self Limiting Beliefs that are keeping you from the Success you know you can have then why not Book some time in my Calendar and lets chat and find our How I can help you Remove these limiting beliefs for good.

How to Handle Career Struggles that are holding you Back?

 

 

Bad Career Story
Struggling in your Career?

We often make up excuses to stay in jobs that make us unhappy, but regardless of what we tell ourselves, all of these stories boil down to FEAR. We want to debunk some of the myths we tell ourselves around staying in a bad job.

Do you feel stuck in a job you don’t like? We often make up excuses to stay in jobs that make us unhappy.

Leaving the security of a job, especially during tough economic times, is a frightening thought – but so is continuing to work in a place that leaves you unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

I want to debunk some of the myths we tell ourselves around staying in a bad job.

Myth: Things are tough, so I can’t make a career change right now.

Truth: Sometimes negative events can be a catalyst for positive change.

Whether you are experiencing tough times on a personal or global level, it can be difficult to think of adding a career change on top of those stresses. Sometimes however, tough times can reveal a new purpose or meaningful opportunity.

There are countless stories of people who have turned tragedy into something meaningful. It can be done. You just have to let yourself be open to the idea of change.

Right now we are all experiencing one of the most challenging periods in history. We have seen a downturn in the economy due to COVID-19. While it is true that fewer companies are hiring and there is more competition, the roles are still out there. There are companies that are innovating to adapt to the changing world. There are also companies who have seen an increase in demand during this time.

The key is making yourself stand out by highlighting your passions and skills. It may not be a quick or easy change, but don’t let fear be the thing that stops you from finding something better.

Myth: I’m just lucky to have a job.

Truth: It is possible to be grateful for a job, but still not love it.

As we see unemployment rise and more companies go through layoffs, it is normal to feel gratitude for what we do have. It is also a good thing. There are proven benefits to expressing gratitude and it is something that should be part of your daily routine.

But it is also okay to be grateful for what you have while admitting you long for something better. Accepting what is because you know it could be worse is twisting gratitude into an excuse to hold yourself back. Allow yourself to strive for more. Do you know what you want? Do you have a dream job?

Myth: I can’t afford to leave my job right now.

Truth: You don’t have to leave your job (yet) to start the career transformation process.

Make dreams come true
Make dreams come true

How to Handle Common Career Struggles

A career can be a source of great joy and great pain. If you relate more to the latter, chances are you have experienced one of these common career struggles. Fortunately, you do not have to continue suffering.

Do not settle in your career! If you are not happy, it is time for a career transition!

Here are some  solutions to some of the obstacles most frequently faced by professionals.

Problem: You hate your job and/or chosen career path.

Solution: If you know you are not happy and have yet to take steps to remedy it, you typically fall into one of two scenarios:

  1. ‍You are fearful of making a change. There are many stories we tell ourselves that can cause us to stifle our own success. “I’m not good enough.” “What if I fail?” “What if I make a change and it’s worse?” It is critical to recognize what story you are telling yourself so that you can start to isolate those thoughts and address them. Bringing your fears to the forefront of your consciousness is the first step in being able to overcome them. Once you recognize and acknowledge the fears, applying some simple but effective tools can render them powerless in holding you back.
  2. You do not know what will make you happy. You have recognized you are not happy, but you do not know what will bring you joy. This can be especially difficult when you have spent your entire career in one field. It is time to do some discovery work. Finding your purpose is a key place to start. Once you know your purpose, make a list of your strengths and passions. If you start to see some similarities between the lists, follow that path.

Problem: You are struggling to get to the next level in your career.

Solution: It is time to expand your network. You have got the experience and you need to highlight that to the right people – whether it is a decision maker or someone who can make a referral. They can be at your current company or at a potential new employer. Connecting with the right people can make all the difference. Expanding your network does not mean you have to attend in-person networking events, especially in the age of social distancing. There are great digital tools, such as LinkedIn and Shapr, that allow you to build relationships with other professionals. Find an authentic way to connect with others that is enjoyable to you.

Problem: You are not standing out to potential employers.

Solution: Most recruiters and hiring managers see hundreds of resumes for a single position. That number increases the more desirable the role and company are. Standing out is difficult, but possible. We recommend that every job seeker approach their career as if they were an entrepreneur building a company. Your career is your business. You must determine your product (your skillset), your unique selling proposition (your strengths and passions) and your target market (the companies YOU want to work for). Once you have defined your professional brand, you need to ensure that it is reflected everywhere – your resume, your cover letter, your online presence, and especially how you show up for interviews.

Now it is time to market yourself. You have to do more than just submit your resume to job posts and boards. Connect with the right people and make sure you are visible. Focus on your strengths and passions, especially if you do not have the requested experience.

If you need help defining and marketing your personal brand, we can help. Chat with one of our coaches here

It is time to transition in your career.

Career transitioning does not happen overnight. It is a process that takes time and commitment.

Deciding you want to find something better does not mean you have to quit your job tomorrow. It simply means you are ready to start the process of identifying what kind of career will bring you joy, and what kinds of companies will value who you are. THEN taking the steps to find them and go after them.

What can I do to find a career I love?

Ideal Careers offers several courses, for wherever you are in the process. If you are looking for total Career Transformation OR looking to Transition Into another Career, we offer programs, as well as coaching, to get you started. If you are already in process or looking to ease into career transitioning, we offer a single-modules that focuses on a particular area of making a career change. Book a chat with one of our advisors Its FREE. 

Do not let fear hold you back from finding happiness and fulfilment in your career!

Your career plays a major role in your life. Settling and being complacent in this area can leave you feeling unfulfilled. Find the right solution for you at Ideal Careers.co.za

Coaching Package to Choose From

During these unprecedented times we all need a little help. Here are a few packages which may tickle your fancy and provide some help along the way to redefining your normal.. If any of these sound like something you may be interested in doing click here to connect with me and we can schedule a FREE consultation session with no obligation.

If this is not what you are looking for let me know how I may be of Service and we can tailor make a packed to suite your unique needs.

Click here to connect with Me  

4-Week Coaching Packages
4-Week Coaching Packages

Coaching

Make dreams come true

Goal Setting is the thing to do right…Wrong! – Part 2

Make dreams come true
Make dreams come true

Part 2…

So I am not saying that goals are bad things and you should avoid them. If goals work for you then go for it

For a lot of us, a goal can be the tool that sets our direction and inspires us to keep going.

But when I look back at the way my career change actually unfolded, it didn’t happen in a series of big tick-boxes.

It happened in micro-moments of consistent actions.

You could call them systems, or you could call them habits.

Here’s why they worked so well:

 

Habits have a ‘how’

“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” – Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Have you ever thought to yourself: “I could make a career change in no time, if only I knew what steps to take”?

It’s the classic career change conundrum – you know the high-level result you want, but you do not know what each specific little step is or looks like, nor do you know the actions you need that is going to get you there.

So you end up with these gloriously intangible goals, much like the ones I listed out in my book, and then you sit and stare at them, and feel bad that you haven’t got there yet, and beat yourself up for not knowing how.

But you can get your hands on a Habit.

Because if it’s a habit, you know what it is and how to do it.

So we tend to get into the Habit of doing things, rather than just setting a goal.

 

If there’s only so much you can do, you can at least do a lot of that.

We have already established that you are not the boss of everything.

You can not control results, but you can control your actions.

So shifting your attention away from the lofty, the far-off and the at-least-50%-out-of-your-hands and toward the tangible, the manageable, the consistent and the completely-under-your-control is probably a smart move.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Steven Covey has a great way of explaining this.

Picture a circle.

Inside it, cram everything you care about: your declining eyesight, the refugee crisis, climate change, the housing market, whether your kid is having a good day at school, what the recruitment agent is going to say in your meeting tomorrow, how good your hair looks today, the location of your car keys, whether or not you’re happy in your future career… there’s a LOT in this circle.

Covey calls it your Circle of Concern.

Inside your Circle of Concern is another circle.

This one is called your Circle of Influence.

And inside your Circle of Influence are only the concerns you can directly impact or control.

Goals tend to live inside your Circle of Concern and outside your Circle of Influence. They rely on factors that are only partly in your control. And they are focused on outputs (what happens next) rather than inputs (what you actually do).

But your hairstyle? The house you choose to buy? The skills you develop or what you spend your Thursday evenings doing? Whether or not you try that new recipe that’s been rolling around in the back of your head for months?

 

In these matters, you are the boss.

When you operate within your Circle of Influence, you will make the biggest impact.

And the more time you spend working and playing inside of this circle, the larger it grows.

 

It’s hard to pick a fight with a mouse

Goals can tend to feel high-stakes and paralysing, habits can be as small as you need them to be. A Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg recommends starting with ‘tiny habits’, actions so small that they are almost laughable. Instead of trying to start a habit of flossing twice a day, for example, he suggests just starting by flossing one tooth.

Why?

You can find a lot of good reasons why the goal of quitting your job in 3 months’ time, regardless of what happens between now and then, might not be the best idea. You can argue your way in and out of that for hours.

It is much harder to argue with a habit of putting whatever coins you have in your pockets into a savings jar every day when you get home.

Insignificant though actions like this might sound, they are actually incredibly powerful. The hardest part of anything is just getting started, and once you have started getting into action with a habit, they have the capacity to snowball.

Maybe you want to write a novel. You decide to set up a tiny habit of writing just 300 words a day. You figure, to complete a book at that rate, it will take about 300 days. Except… it turns out that writing 300 words is really easy, and even on your busiest days, you are getting it done. In fact, on a lot of days, you find yourself overshooting the 300 word mark and just continuing to tap away, writing 800, 1,000, 2,000 words in a day.

You can’t argue with small.

 

Slow consistent progress is permanent Progress

Goals can set you up for a jerky journey with little traction.

You create a goal, circle it for a while, make a big leap forward, and then, once you have achieved it, you have to come up with the next one. If you don’t achieve it, you then have to deal with the emotional fallout. Mapped onto a piece of paper, your forward movement looks like a game of leapfrog with a very nervous teammate.

Habits on the other hand are by their very nature ongoing and consistent. They tell you what to do and when, and are active regardless of output. Small steps, taken consistently, move you forward faster.

“The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.” – James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

And good news for your achy willpower muscle: once you have formed them, habits pretty much operate automatically.

In fact, once we have got going with a habit, our brains actually adapt to make it easier to complete. After about 30 days of practice, carrying out a habit becomes easier than not doing so.

As Charles Duhigg wrote in The Power Of Habit:

“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more than we realise – they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.”

 

The nature of your life is dependent on the nature of your habits

Philosopher William James described habits in this way:

“All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits  practical, emotional, and intellectual  systematically organised for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be.”

Habits, not goals, shape your daily experience of the world.

 

The time of day you wake up. The way you brush your teeth. How you get to work, the turns of phrase you use, the way you automatically respond to certain events.

Goals are interruptions to your status quo.

Habits, on the other hand, build, shape and create the form and direction of your life.

And if that is true, then whether or not you shift into fulfilling work is entirely dependent on the habits and consistent behaviours you choose to cultivate.

 

On other words, choosing and building a powerful set of habits can help you move into fulfilling work inevitable.

Now that sounds pretty good, no?

How to build helpful habits in career change

 

Create opportunities to be gloriously surprised

All you can control is what you do, not what happens next.

So, as you start designing some new habits and behaviours, let go of any thought of whether or not it will ‘work’ or be ‘worth it’.

Perhaps you consider starting a new habit of going to one new, interesting event per week.

But then the doubts come in: By the way these are also  know as Limiting Beliefs

“There probably won’t be anyone interesting there.”

“You don’t WANT to work at the circus – why go to a workshop?”

“You’ve had a tiring week – no point going if it’s just going to be a waste of time.”

Your job is not to make it worth it.

Your job is not to know the outcome.

Your job is just to keep opening the door to the possibility of something fantastic that you didn’t see coming.

You can’t control whether it happens or not.

But one thing is for sure: without an open door, it ain’t coming in.

How do we see Ourself

Choose pleasure, not pride

Intrinsic motivation is far more effective than extrinsic rewards.

In her book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin uses this example:

“If I tell [my daughter] that she can watch an hour of TV if she reads for an hour, I don’t build her habit of reading. I teach her that watching TV is more fun than reading.”

So where possible, set up habits that will feel good to do and give you a sense of accomplishment when completed.

This does not mean it won’t take any effort to get started with them. Setting up a new habit involves some change, and it will take willpower to get the ball rolling.

Perhaps you know that talking to new people often feels a bit awkward to start with.

But once you’ve opened a dialogue, you always enjoy the conversation, and you are thrilled to have made a new friend you can learn from.

It will take some effort to push past the initial hump of always reaching out to people you encounter who do interesting work. But the more you do it, the smoother that initial hump will become, and the more enjoyment (and great conversations, and new insights) will follow.

Following a pleasurable feeling  and setting up a system to do more of it, is always going to reap greater rewards than fighting against an unpleasant one. Besides, if you want to find fulfilling work, doing a lot of things that feel unfulfilling is unlikely to get you there.

Follow the hints and the feelings that tell you what you love, what comes naturally, what elicits a sense of flow.

 

Do more of what works

Often times, habits are pitched as things to be changed, to quit, or to fix.

You are giving up your smoking habit.

You start running every morning (to fix your low fitness levels).

You stop drinking coffee in the mornings.

However, when you are trying to create a habit in order to fix or stop something, it takes more effort, and reminds you of the negative element you are trying to get away from.

Stopping something gives you the sense of having less of something in your life, but it does not necessarily replace it with anything else. You want the good stuff, and more of it.

The most effective habits start with the questions:

“What do I know works well for me?” and then: “How can I do more of it?”

So take a look at the things you have done in the past that have given you more clarity or more progress when it comes to your career change.

When have you found new insights to explore, and how did you find them?

What was different about that conversation that led to a new opportunity, from the other conversations that fizzled out?

Sure, you know that for extroverts, going to networking events works brilliantly. But you are way better in 1-1 environments. So how do you have more 1-1 interactions with people in your day-to-day?

Look for what works, and then focus on building a habit that has you do more of it.

 

If in doubt, change your environment

Stanford behaviour scientist BJ Fogg says he has learnt that only three things will change your life in the long term.

Option A. Have an epiphany

Option B. Change your environment (what surrounds you)

Option C. Take baby steps

Epiphanies are hard to come by, and they are out of your control.

Baby steps are the mouse-sized micro-habits you can build with very little effort over time.

And if you are not sure what baby steps to take, create the habit of taking them into new environments. If you are struggling for ideas on your future career, or struggling to find the right steps to take, remember one of the simplest principles of systems theory:

New inputs = new outputs.

If you want new ideas, new insights, new possibilities, build the habit of filling your environment with new experiences.

Widen your social circle by adding new people with new perspectives into your social circle.

Take yourself into new places and surroundings.

Giving yourself new experiences.

Build habits that change what surrounds you, and you will watch your perspective on the world, and the opportunities you can see, change along with it.

 

One thing at a time, and one thing only

Set yourself up for success.

Start small.

Overcommitting to a whole bunch of new habits has the same impact as setting yourself a scary goal. It feels overwhelming, paralysing, and invites fear of failure and procrastination.

Get into the habit of just one small, consistent new behaviour.

Get curious about it.

A tiny drip of water, over time, can crack open a whole boulder.

Do not underestimate the power of one thing done consistently over time.

“The best thing I ever did was to commit to one small action each day (less than five minutes). Sometimes this lead to further leaps, other times that was all I did. This might have been making a list, sending an email, commenting on a post, a bit of research, etc. When I combined that with trying to make the small action something that was slightly out of my comfort zone as well, good things started to happen.” – Amy G.

 

Get trigger-happy

New habits are often difficult to get going because they require  Two things #1 that you change your behaviours, #2. that you remember to do them.

According to Zen Habits writer Leo Babauta, the often-overlooked key to building a new habit is to tie it to a trigger – an event that will remind you (eventually automatically) to carry out your habit:

“Habits become automatic after we have created a bond between the trigger and the habit. The stronger the bond, the more ingrained the habit.”

Babauta recommends finding an action or event that is already ingrained into your routines in life.

For example, if you need to remember to take a daily medication, keeping the box on top of your toothbrush will help you tie the action of taking your pill to your already-automatic (we would hope) routine of brushing your teeth.

If you want to build a habit of staying in touch with old friends, use an already-ingrained habit (opening your email client for the first time in the morning, checking social media on your commute) to act as a trigger to send one checking-in message to someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while.

Need to start injecting your weekly routine with something fresh and new, to inspire new ideas and broaden your experience of the world? Every time you see a vaguely interesting event coming up in your local area, put it into your calendar.

Consistent triggers make new habits feel natural, faster.

 

Work with the way you work

A habit is an expectation you have set for yourself (or, sometimes, that someone else / society expects of you).

Gretchen Rubin suggests there are four primary ways, or ‘tendencies’ with which people respond to those expectations.

Knowing your ‘tendency’ (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel), you can pre-empt the ways in which you might get stuck building or maintaining your habits, and set up systems and approaches that help you get things done.

You might, for example, need to rely on accountability more than others, and tell multiple people about the habits you are trying to build.

Reminding yourself of the greater good you are trying to achieve might be the primary kick you need.

Or perhaps deadlines are the only thing that will get you out of analysis paralysis and moving forward.

Take the Four Tendencies Test here, and use the results to craft your approach to habits in the way that works for you.

Finding fulfilling work is a revelatory process

It is what makes it magical. It is what makes it nerve-wracking, too.

If only a career you love was the output of a nice, neat algebraic formula, setting goals and project-managing, the whole thing would be smart and simple.

But it’s not.

It’s messy, and full of surprises, and it requires you to be in a space of not-knowing for far longer than most human beings are comfortable with.

What will anchor you, keep you grounded and making forward progress, are habits and systems.

Consistent, forward nudges that you actually do, that keep you feeling proud and motivated, and that opens the door, over and over again, to the possibility of being gloriously surprised, to the unexpected and the new.

What habit could you start cultivating in your own career change? Let me know in the comments below.

Goal Setting is the thing to do right…Wrong! – Part1

 

Dreams and Goals

This is Part 1 of 2

 

Goal-setting seems like a smart thing to do in a career change. However, this might actually be exactly what is keeping you stuck. Renata explains why big targets can be a false friend. Here is what she recommends doing to start making progress towards that Ideal Career instead.

Let me tell you a short story

A little while ago I was doing a cupboard purge something I had not done in a while.

I found a black hard cover notebook. I immediately recognise this old faithful companion that contain hundreds of lines of my handwriting and doodles, in different colours of ink and pencil.

Journal entries, to-do lists, thoughts I had jotted down. Pages and pages of confused, frustrated outpourings about my work, my life, my future. I took a moment to read those words and I was transported back to that year in a deeply visceral way that I haven’t felt for a long time. The desperate awkwardness of feeling like a fundamental misfit in a career and a life that was not for mine. The sense of being caged in and stuck, trapped by the very life choices I myself had made in the years before. The  dark emptiness ahead of me when I tried to imagine what else I could do.

As I flipped through the pages of that old book one page in particular hit me hard.

It was a list of goals.

Big, ambitious, hopeful goals. The only kind I had, back then.

And then next to them, in a different pen, clearly written later in a fit of irritation, a series of scrawled, pointy, sarcastic flippant questions…

      • “Have three reasonable career options I’m truly excited about.” LOVELY. HOW, EXACTLY?
      • “Start a side line income to make extra cash” WHICH YOU’LL DO IN WHAT SPARE TIME?
      • “Have  ($6000) saved by June.” WHAT FOR, GENIUS?
      • “Hand in my notice by September” YEAH, RIGHT!!

 

Reading the contents of that page was like watching a snippet of the perpetual state of the inside of my head – the never-ending back-and-forth of a hopeful, fierce optimist and an angry, hurt cynic.

I made a lot of lists like that.

I remember how painful and pointless those felt, once their initial balm wore off.

Unrealistic, hollow-feeling goals, created mostly because I didn’t know what else to do.

They sounded nice, but I rarely did much about them.

It wasn’t a question of what I wanted on a grand scale.

It was the specifics I had no clue about. I still did not know the steps to take to get there.

Sound familiar?

Goals are not very helpful in the day-to-day logistics of a career change.

YES goals can feel productive, and make yo feel good in the beginning. Perhaps these goals even feel good the day after you write them down.

But beyond that initial feel-good sensation you have initially it can actually have the opposite effect on you making any meaningful change.

Here’s why.

Fulfilment isn’t SMART

Anyone who has ever done any goal-setting has come into contact with the idea of SMART goals at some point:

We are told Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.

This is Fair enough however finding fulfilling work is not quite so neat.

Setting SMART goals is an organisational task – finding the logical pieces, breaking them into chunks, and putting them together in a way that leads you forward, step by step.

Finding fulfilling work however feels more like trying to jump off a jellyfish into an ocean you are not convinced actually exists.

You do not really know where you are going, so being specific i.t.o goals setting is laughable.

You are not sure how exactly to measure fulfilment (beyond ‘Makes me want to poke myself in the eye / Doesn’t make me want to poke myself in the eye’), so that’s a shaky one too.

You do not even completely believe it’s possible, so how can it be achievable or realistic?

And time-based… if ONLY a deadline could fix this mess.

So sitting down to write some goals for your career change… eerr if it feels ridiculous, that’s probably because it is, a little.

Extrinsic motivation is not effective

Imagine you have set yourself a goal to lose 10 kilos.

You start going to the gym every day, because someone told you that gym exercise gets faster weight-loss results than anything else.

You hate the gym. You hate the smell of the changing rooms, you hate the perky gym bunny types who take up all the machines, you hate the music they play, and you hate running towards your own reflection in a mirror for half an hour and traveling precisely nowhere.

You start taking a salad and a Thermos of cabbage soup to work every day. You hate salad. You hate cabbage soup. You are starting to hate your life.

But you would love to loose those 10 kilos.

So you put up with it. You eat the soup, holding your nose and visualising your life once you’ve hit your goal. You endure the gym, wishing you could just hit your goal and never have to go back there again.

What are the chances of you hitting your 10-kilo target – and, more importantly, maintaining it afterward? I would say Pretty low, no?

Goals that do not inspire you or give you that “hell yeah” feeling or rely on extrinsic motivation such as an external, tangible result or outcome you need to achieve will not be achieved.

These goals feel heavy, looming over you menacingly until you have hit them. The process of working toward them often doesn’t feel enjoyable and takes a lot of effort despite the rewards at the end.

So you’re less likely to take the steps you need to take to achieve them.

Extrinsic motivation has repeatedly been shown to be less effective than Intrinsic motivation, which is driven by enjoying the activity itself.

Extrinsic motivation: “If I walk five miles today, I can have that piece of chocolate cake.”

Intrinsic motivation: “I love dancing – I’m going to dance in the kitchen just because it feels great.”

Extrinsic motivation: “If I spend the next month learning about the political system in Uzbekistan I’ll look really smart at the university dinner party.”

Intrinsic motivation: “How DOES the inside of my remote control work? This is fascinating…”

In other words, given the choice between rewards or enjoyment, you are far more likely to do things you enjoy.

So, ironically, you are more likely to lose 10 kilos by throwing the scales in the bin and going dancing every weekend than you are by trying to haul yourself to the gym every day if going to the gym is not your thing.

In your career change, you are more likely to find fulfilling work  (albeit counter-intuitively) by doing things you enjoy than you are by setting yourself a goal to change career.

Pressure encourages procrastination

There is a fair amount of pressure involved in goal-setting.

Either you hit your goal, or you don’t.

There is no room for the grey area on the way.

And if you don’t hit it, you’ve ‘failed’. Unpleasant. Scary. Dunce hat. Ugh.

Procrastination is based in fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change: all fears that grow from an attachment to a specific outcome… otherwise known as ‘a goal’.

In career change, this often looks like vacillation, over-thinking, endlessly weighing up options, researching things to death…

Sound familiar?

What if you get it wrong? What if you don’t hit your target? What if it never happens?

High stakes creates high tension – and the higher the tension, the less likely you are to act.

So if you have set yourself a goal and you are getting stuck in procrastination-whirlpools, this might be why.

You are not the boss of everything

Unfortunate, but true.

No matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put in to achieving a goal, sometimes the world just gets in the way. Life happens.

Maybe you twist an ankle and can’t train for the marathon.

Maybe the taxman slings you an unexpected curveball and your savings goal hits the deck.

Maybe your company withdraws its plans to offer a round of voluntary redundancies next month, like you were expecting.

Maybe your kid gets sick and you spend your week curled up on the bathroom floor mopping brows and blowing noses and you don’t get your LinkedIn profile up to date like you said you would.

These moments hurt. Partly because they throw a spanner in the works and we have to deal with the possibility of failure.

Partly because it forces you to realise that you can’t control results.

You can ONLY control what you do, but not what happens next.

      • You can create a perfectly written LinkedIn profile, but you can’t control whether or not people will read it.
      • You can reach out to someone you admire, but you can’t control whether or not they will respond.
      • You can go to an event you have never been to before, but you can’t control whether or not it will spark a new career idea.

Trying to consistently hit your goals when you are only responsible for part of the process is a pretty heavy expectation.

Don’t just set goals, build habits.

Looking back at my notebook, I’m pretty proud to say that  I have achieved pretty much all l the goals I set back then and am working  on achieving the new ones I have set.

I found a way to visit amazing places met some truly amazing people and do work I am completely in love with.

That wouldn’t have happened without giving myself the space to dream ridiculously big and commit to consistently doing things I had no idea how to do BUT learnt that it was possible and I could them.

continue …

Read part 2 next

How To Take Control Of Your Career Development In 6 Easy Ways

The DIY concept is not new. We have DIY for home improvements, personal makeovers, self help, and pretty much any every art or creative activity known. There are instructional videos, plugins, plug and play option to do just about anything you can think about and we are so comfortable with this. We don’t think it is strange or unusual at all. In fact by all accounts we love it. We like the idea of learning to do new things and finding our how-to by simply popping the question into a search engine.

But how many of us think about a DIY option for our careers. Research suggests that many people are still leaving this crucial element of our lives in the hands of a manager. Many people are still asking what can you do for me. The truth is the days when“personal development” was treated as a major company initiative is long gone.Organizations today are unknowingly leaving employees with skill gaps and blind spots that can derail their careers and an organizations effectiveness. Managers aren’t helping either because they are too worried about their own hides. Many managers don’t have time or energy or interest to focus on anyone else’s needs.

We are now in the era of do-it-yourself career development. Companies less frequently offer formal training — a trend that has been around for years. This may be because employees change jobs so frequently (job tenure now averages about four years) that firms don’t see the value in investing in people who are likely to leave. Korn Ferry found that when managers rated themselves on 67 managerial skills, “developing others” came in dead last.

Ideally, organizations should do more to foster career development: encourage more-immediate feedback, develop clear performance criteria, deliver developmental feedback with clarity and tact, and provide resources and incentives for managers to make employee development a priority. The reality however, is this burden is on employees. Workers at all levels must learn to identify their weaknesses, uncover their blind spots, and strengthen their skills. Employees must drive their own development within an organisation.

Here are six things you can do to take control of your career development.

Understand what you are evaluated on. What does success look like in your position? What are your job goals and success metrics? It’s best to identify these with your manager, but if that’s not happening, then write down what you understand the goals and key performance indicators to be. Have the discussion with manager and  get their agreement. Engage in an ongoing dialogue to ensure you stay on the right track. Knowing what you will be measured on will keep the guess work out of your performance.

Solve for your own blind spots. Top performers are always learning and adjusting, and routinely seek feedback from their managers, peers, and subordinates. If your manager doesn’t proactively give you feedback, start the conversation yourself. After a presentation or big meeting, state one thing that you think went well, and then ask for advice on one thing you could improve. It’s best to keep it simple; most people can only absorb one area to improve at a time. Listen to and thank your manager for the feedback. Becoming an active participant in your career development will encourage your manage to have progressively more interest in the type of support you may need.

Codify your leanings. You can capture feedback and learning by keeping a journal. List the five to 10 skills or competencies you need to develop in your position.Rate yourself (either on your own or with the help of a trusted adviser) on each. For example, if you’re a brand marketer, you might give yourself an A in advertising development, a B+ in pricing analysis, and a C in trade marketing. Focus on the C’s to close skill gaps. Seeking feedback from someone who previously held your job can speed up your learning. Continuously monitoring your own performance will allow you to recognise your areas of improvement and your areas of expertise.

Increase your visibility with the C-suite. It’s not always possible to get noticed by senior leaders through your direct work.Avail yourself to do some volunteering for initiatives, such as charity work, company events, or other activities in the organisation. This is an easy but often overlooked way to rub elbows with senior people who will see you in action and ideally take notice of your contributions. Remember the people in the C-suite are almost never blissfully oblivious despite the impression they may give. They did not get there by being unaware of what is happening around them.

Become a specialist in an area of increasing importance to your company. Your company may be grappling with a disruption from a new technology such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence, or cloud-based computing. Become the go-to person in your department on an emerging issue. Conduct research and literature reviews, attend conferences, or write on the topic. Developing expertise in a nascent area of growing importance can lead to promotions and other career opportunities. Specialists are noticed and because they stand out they have a skill or competence that generalists don’t have. They are also seen as an authority in a field or subject and often the specialists get paid better than the generalists.

Seek good counsel and mentoring. The perspective of a senior person is invaluable, but pouncing on someone — “Will you be my mentor?” — is likely to scare them off. Try to meet in an informal way: in the coffee shop in your company’s lobby, or at the company picnic or golf outing. Know the person’s bio, and be prepared to ask a few good questions related to their area of expertise. If things go well, you’ll hear, “If I can help you, let me know.” A week or so later, you can extend an invitation to “continue the conversation” over coffee. In time, a mentor relationship may develop organically.Generally people who have been around and have the knowledge and experience are only too happy to teach and share their expertise with someone who is willing to learn.

Strong functional skills take time to develop. In most positions, whether it’s enterprise sales, brand marketing, supply chain logistics, or corporate finance, being competent often consists of having deep functional knowledge in four or five key job areas and a good working knowledge in another four or five. Without the willingness to take multiple assignments, or even strategic lateral moves, a well-rounded skill set will be elusive. It takes time and it takes patience.

Your skill set is ultimately your career capital, so take the time to develop your functional skills. Jumping from job to job too quickly (say, in 18-month or two-year increments) won’t allow you to develop the functional expertise you need to advance your career. With time, a lot of patience, a willingness to continuously improve your skills, and by taking the initiative, you are far more likely to thrive in this DIY world. Remember it is your Life, your Career don’t leave it in someone elses hands.

DIY doesn’t not mean you have to do it on your own. It simply means Drive it Yourself.