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May 2009

Let Your Past Successes Guide Your Future Choices

One of the first people I coached was a financial services salesman.  He wanted to be doing financial analysis, and analysis was his area of education and experience.  But he was having to go out into the world and convince people to buy financial products.  He was good at it.  But he was unhappy.

He worked in a small company which didn't need a full time analyst, so his career transition meant changing companies.

I had him review his resume and build a list of all his accomplishments.  We mapped how those accomplishments applied to doing financial analysis. 

We created a detailed road map of possibilities.

I noticed that he was especially proud of his accomplishments in the military.  He liked solid, structured environments.  His current industry was neither of those things, so his career transition meant changing industries, too.

He moved fast!  In three months, he had found a new industry, company, and job title that matched his strengths.  When he finally got the interview, it was grueling.  But because he was prepared and was using his strengths and past experiences, it was easy for him.  He got the job.  Now he's happy at work.

You can do this, too.  Review your accomplishments.  What things are you especially proud of?  What accomplishments would you like to have in your future? 

Let your past successes guide your future choices.

I'm trapped in my job!

Some people seem satisfied, challenged, and engaged in their careers.  Wouldn't it be nice to experience that?!

One of the most common career problems people face is feeling stuck or trapped in a job.  Have you ever found yourself saying something like this:

"I want to change jobs, but that's not a smart move in this economy."
"No one will pay for the things I really want to do."
"I'm too old to change careers now."
"I don't know what I want in a job. All I know is that I don't want what I have now!"

Start to Get Unstuck

The first step to career transition is to

take a step back and consider your values.

Make a list of the things that are most important to you.  Write them down or type them up.

Once you have your list of values, choose the two or three values that are most important to you.  Spend some time defining what those values really mean to you.  When you're really expressing that value, what do you hear, see, and feel around you and within?  What types of things do you find yourself doing when that value is your highest priority?

One of my most important values is

helping others grow.

The thing I love most about my work is the people I've mentored in their careers.  Recently, I had lunch with a mentee who was once making $50,000 a year in a job she felt lukewarm about.   Now, in this economy, she's just taken an exciting and challenging job making over $200,000!  I feel so proud of her, to see how far she's come and to know that I helped her get there.  I encouraged her and, when appropriate, very directly guided her.  Helping people do something they love and that they want to do... that makes my day.

What values make your day?

Authenticity - Taking The Real You to Work

My belief is that authenticity is the key to career success, happiness and overall wellness.  
So what is authenticity?
Authenticity is awareness of one's personal values, beliefs, preferences and then letting that awareness drive actions and behaviors.
This sounds relatively simple - just knowing who you are and what's important to you.  
My experience is that it not always that simple.   There are many things that stop us from bringing our real selves into the world, especially the working world.  In fact, we often compartmentalize and develop different personas - the work self, the home self, we may even try for a different online self. 
With today's speed and openness of information, maintaining multiple personas is not only challenging but unlikely to succeed over time. Yet taking our real selves into the world takes intention - and courage.  Barriers are everywhere! 
Barriers may include fear, inertia, and my favorite one - excuses!  (I'm too old, too young, too ____ you fill in the blank!)
Many of us have been socialized to pay more attention to what we think others want or need from us than to develop and maintain an awareness of our core selves.    Certainly societal norms played a part in my journery from a good southern girl, to a good military wife, to a young widow reinvented in the 70's as a career woman and even to the person I'm becoming today.
What stops you from consistently taking "the real you" to the world?   
How can you develop and maintain your authenticity when the world is going  to heck in a handbasket?
Let me know your thoughts and challenges.   I'm listening!
Coming soon:  Elements of Authentic Leadership