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What if you really did know your right career?

What if you really did know your right career?

Your right career may be for you the one that earns you the most personal satisfaction or the most money or contributes most to others. You need to decide on the balance between different pay-offs of the work that you do and that choice is completely yours. This piece focuses on the decision to do work that you are passionate about, whether in the end that becomes the whole of your life, or needs to be balanced by doing other work that meets other practical needs.

I spent a long time searching for the ‘right’ thing to do with my life and all the time what I really wanted to do was staring me in the face. I even read ‘do what you love’ type self-help books that told me it was probably staring me in the face and continued to completely ignore it.

It was just too obvious that I would become a life coach. The ego part of me also thought that life coaching sounded a bit cheesy, so I had to get over that as well so I could wind up doing this work I love.

I left teaching as I was constantly moving with my husband’s career and was looking to find what my new ‘perfect’ career would be. I studied for a second degree in Art History and Creative Writing and also did courses in photography, floristry and interior design. All of these were a lot of fun and I know I was really lucky to be able to invest the time and money in them. The bridge between hobby course and new career seemed huge and I had no idea how to bridge it.

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It took a long time to admit to myself that my right career was coaching. It took even longer to realise that the bridge to making that happen was not going to be something that would come easily. I was looking for a simple leap into making my passion my career and the leap wasn’t a simple one for me.

You know those water obstacle shows where someone always falls short of making the leap and plunges into the deep water below? That was me in the ‘finding your right career water obstacle show.’ (not sure it’s ratings are that high, maybe you haven’t heard of it?)

Sure, you will read loads of internet marketing about how certain people will make the leap to your new passion filled career easy and simple and if there really are people who are making this work quickly and easily then a whole load of good luck to them.

I’ve invested a lot more time and money into making this passion work and the more I learn the more I see that it is about consistently turning up as yourself in all this and claiming what you want, even when it isn’t an easy path. Making the leap to a career you are passionate about is deciding to climb the mountain, it isn’t climbing it. That comes after.

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The idea of this journey to your right career or a thriving coaching practice as being like climbing a mountain came from my own coach mentor, Sas Petherick.

So if you are brave and some might say fool-hardy enough to do, you know, what you really want to do with your life, here are six steps to help you get there. They won’t get you all of the way there, but they are a start. Look upon them as trail snacks on your forthcoming mountain journey.

1. Admitting what you really want in life.

Is there a passion you have been ignoring because it is just too obvious? Have you been blocking it because the ego part of you does not fully approve of your idea? What do you talk about that lights you up? What kind of books are you always reading? What magazines do you always pick up? Passion leads clues. Imagine that you have become a detective of your own life and you are looking for where your passion lies. Make notes, keep files, be onto yourself.

2. Owning your talents.

So you have the passion, but now that sneaky little voice inside you is saying ‘well sure that sounds great, but you’re not really as good at balloon modelling / diving / historical research of the Tudor period as you think you are’. Part of this is the ego that is trying to keep you safe. You are only in the exploratory phases of what your true life’s work is going to be. You don’t have to have the ‘right’ answer.

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3. Not expecting the complete picture of your future to form straight away.

This is where it gets messy. You try a new direction and you fail or you have to find a way of mixing your life passion with your day job and that gets messy. You think thoughts like ‘maybe I’m wasting my time,’ or ‘this is never going to work.’

4. Allowing the messiness of transition.

This is where allowing comes in. Allow yourself not to know, not to have it all together, not to know all the steps, not to have a brilliant answer to the cocktail party question ‘So what do you do?’

5. Finding support for your dreams.

On your mountain trail to your new passion filled career it’s great to have a mountain guide. Find one you resonate with and you trust. Ask for referrals. Talk to a variety of guides / mentors / coaches and find out who you click with. Clicking with a guide, mentor or coach is more important than being impressed by how fancy their website is or whether they guest post on Life Hack.

6. Tortoise steps, not hare leaps. (from coaching tool created by Dr Martha Beck)

If your next step seems to great, break it down. If the step after that one seems too great, break it down again. Find the step that does not bring up all the resistance that stops you from doing anything. You’ll never know for sure that you couldn’t find work in what you truly love unless you make the first step of truly listening to what you really want, by stopping to ignore what is obvious.

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Attribution: Some of the ideas in this piece have been influenced by and relate to my understanding of the book ‘Finding Your Own North Star,’ by Martha Beck. (Piatkus, 2003) This is a great book to have alongside you if you are trying to climb this particular mountain, the summit of which is having work that you are passionate about.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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