This is part 2 of the series on “Finding a Career not a Job”. Part one can be read here.
Seek Out Others Who Already do What you are Interested in
After my reading identified several jobs I might be interested in I moved onto the next step. I sought out people who were already doing what I was interested in. Reaching out to others taught me two important lessons.
- Most people are willing to share their experience
- Almost all people love talking about themselves
When I met with people I was engaged and actively listening. I asked clarifying questions and accessed my ignorance. I readily admitted that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I let them know that I highly valued their time. Meetings that were scheduled for fifteen minutes inevitably went over an hour.
Once you identify a job(s) that you are interested in seek out people who already do it. Ask them to share their experience with you. Be open and engaging. And always thank them for their time and consideration.
Begin with the End in Mind
One of the most influential books I ever read was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. He was an acclaimed leadership and professional development specialists. Covey has sold millions of copies of his books worldwide. In this book one habit Covey discussed was beginning with the end in mind. Basically identify where you want to end before you even begin.
My work with clients is focused on building roadmaps. We identify where they are and where they want to be. Once we have those two points we can figure out how to get there. Sometimes clients will say “I want a more fulfilling career.” That’s great but unless we know what fulfills them how could we ever figure out how to get there.
Unfortunately, many people will not have fulfilling careers for one simple reason; they aren’t courageous enough for it. The old adage says “if it was easy everyone would do it.” Most people get a job and settle for a low-level suck. They rationalize staying in their job by telling themselves “Well I don’t hate my job that much.” This sentiment is evident in the fact that one out of two Americans are unhappy in their jobs.
Change can be scary. Fear of the unknown for some is much more powerful than the fear of the known. “Well I don’t like my job but at least I know it. If I go somewhere else, I’ll need to start over again and I won’t know anyone.” I have encountered rationalizations like this throughout my work with clients. This mentality keeps them stuck.
When working with clients who are trying to make a career transition our work focuses on stoking the sparks of courage into action. It is not easy. If it was everyone would do it. But for the few that do it, it is completely worth it.
Create a Game Plan
Once we know the why, the what, and have the courage, we work on figuring out the how. I encourage my clients to move forward with intent and purpose. Sometimes I have to rein them in from quitting their jobs the next day to pursue a career in basket weaving.
We test out their ideas and start to craft a transition plan. Making the decision to make a change can bring a sense of relief. For some clients this can lull them into a false sense of happiness. There is power to the thought that “Well I shouldn’t get mad about my job because I am going to leave anyway.” We want to keep the momentum going through and follow decision with action.
We do a full financial analysis. In it we cover several areas:
- What are your monthly expenses?
- Do you have a rainy day fund? If so, how many months do you have?
- Do you have large expenses coming up?
- Do you have student loans?
Now I am not a financial professional. I have always loved finance and read about it extensively. These questions are just meant to help clients get a sense of their financial position. We want to minimize financial distress when they are already experiencing stress from making a change.
We also cover a variety of questions to help flesh out the plan:
- Who are sources of emotional support?
- What is the timeline for making a transition?
- What is your plan if this doesn’t work out?
If you were going to do it, how would you do it?
This is the final step in the process for my clients. At this point we have answered all the questions. We have laid the groundwork. All that is left to do is do. This is where I ask clients, “If you were going to do it, how would you do it?”
This questions seems counterintuitive. They have come to me to make a change. The reason that I ask this though is because in responding clients inevitably summarize the plan we have come up with. Articulating it further strengthens their resolve.
My professional experience has shown me that making changes is not always easy. My personal experience has shown me that anything worth having is worth working for. I consider myself incredibly lucky to get to work with clients in this capacity.
People don’t make changes because they think it is too hard. I assure you that working jobs and careers not aligned with your true calling is much harder. Mark Twain talked about two days with the focus on “the day you find out why.” Please focus on the why and then act. If you need help please do not hesitate to contact me.