Are you one of many people today who are reinventing their future? Perhaps it is time for a career change, a new challenge, maybe a greater sense of wellbeing. Maybe you feel stuck with what to do next or have been offered new options to consider?
I started my career as a teacher and I’ve been fortunate to evolve it to pursue a variety of exciting opportunities. I’ve moved through an array of school leadership roles to Chief Operating Officer of a luxury jewellery company, a senior sales role in cyber security, and today my dream consultancy role. I have the good fortune to work with the Inspirational Development Group, supporting the next generation of global leaders to achieve high performance. It’s my dream job!
I have been taking time to reflect on the things I have learnt along the way. I asked myself, what would be my go-to strategies if I was reinventing my future again?
1. Think out loud. It’s easy to think things through in our heads, but that is limiting the impact of reflection. Who do you know that can help you on your journey? Think of your network as cheerleaders – who will give you honest feedback that you can grow from? Who can open up new experiences with and for you? Invite a small number of trusted others to explore your thoughts with you, and the process and outcomes will be greatly enriched. And, if you have persistent negative talkers in your closest network, hear their views once and then stick them on the proverbial substitutes bench. Constant negative chatter is unhelpful, and now is your time for exploration and new growth. Surround yourself with people who are as invested in you as you are.
2. Take an emotional inventory. Where are you now? Don’t overlook the importance of Maslow’s hierarchy – without having our basic needs met, such as food and shelter, it’s difficult to openly embark on a career reinvention. Equally, income and the relative security it provides, and the support of friends or family, are vital to support your reinvention. Be aware when these things are missing, seek ways to provide support and reassurance to yourself that this is okay, and sit with the uncomfortableness. It will pass. Trust in yourself. (Unless you’re a plonker, in which case don’t!).
3. Define your narrative. Ask yourself, who are you reinventing your career for? Why are you making a change? What are you seeking to achieve? Clearly defining what you are doing and why will ensure it puts you in the driving seat to lead your reinvention.
4. What matters to you? What values do you hold dearly? And so, what values must a future employer and its people hold? And, importantly, consider how you will identify their values and ensure they are more than words on mission statement, but values enacted on a daily basis.
5. What is your personal brand, your USP? Explore the skills and experiences you hold; don’t confine them to industry sectors or specific environments, consider how they are transferable to different settings. Don’t get hung up on your knowledge base – we can learn new things quickly, but it’s our skills and experiences that support us to transcend across work places.
6. What makes you your best self? What are your unconscious motivators? What triggers you to be a lesser version of you? I completed a personal insights profiling tool, to help me understand my unconscious motivators, see where I perform at my best and where my ‘shadow self’ could emerge. This helped me to understand what factors ensure a future employer and role are aligned to me.
7. Imagine your best possible future. What does it look like? What environment will inspire you, unleash your creativity, make you feel alive? Look at your hobbies – what do they tell you about the kind of activity that engages and motivates you? How can that be woven into your new work? Think about the environment, people, role, responsibilities and tasks you might carry out. Go with your gut instincts and then explore what these factors might look and feel like in reality. Explore a range of options, including the unthinkable. Challenge your assumptions and let yourself imagine a divergent set of possible selves and futures.
8. Be curious. Always. I love to learn new things and it has inspired and shaped my career journey. Lifelong curiosity drives lifelong learning, and it might seem like a cliché but it keeps your brain alive and your world an exciting place to be. Read, listen, share and learn, and build capabilities. It will undoubtedly take you down routes you couldn’t possibly have imagined.
9. Don’t be scared to redefine your identity. Be prepared to leave things behind. For example, a job title, responsibility, kudos, sense of belonging, or worth. Overnight, I went from being a College Principal to a student. I felt like I had lost my identity. Fortunately, I had people to talk with and explore those feelings, but I found the next career move into an SME challenging as some said I was capable of more; their definition of more, not mine. I found a niche for me to grow in and learn from.
10. Always be testing. Actively and openly reflect, and trust in your gut feeling. Be patient, it’s a time-consuming process. Expect the journey to be a jumbled, messy, iterative process. Don’t expect to get it right first time, or indeed ever, but be ready to notice, learn from, and capitalise on the learning experiences along the way.
Enjoy the journey! If it isn’t fascinating and fun, what’s the point?
If you are curious to explore these thoughts in greater detail, then do join me for a conversation I had with Chris Cooper on The Business Elevation Show. You can listen to the podcast using one of the options below:
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