Over the past decade I’ve coached hundreds of people to more fulfilling working lives. From all those examples, one thing stands out about how the coaching process helps them. Coaching helps them to dream and dream big about what they want. Here are a few crucial tips about how to think about your next working role or career.
Start with the ideal
I’ve noticed that many people start to feel uncomfortable thinking about their ideal working situation in any depth. They ask, ‘Don’t I need to be realistic about what kind of job I can get?’ My answer is always, ‘At this stage, no.’ It is much more important and valuable to be crystal clear about what you actually most want. Now is the time to dream without any limitations. That is the only way to identify your best estimate of what suits you best. No one else can tell you what kind of job is best for you. And honestly, no one can know what is possible or not. So by thinking ‘realistically’, all we are really doing is limiting ourselves. There is no proof nor even any compelling evidence that you can’t have the career of your dreams. There is really nothing to lose by exploring your thoughts and feelings about what is ideal for you. And there is a lot to gain. You’re far more likely to succeed when you aim high!
In the illustration you’ll see what I mean. By staying realistic, or close to the ground, you can only make a small step forward. You are limiting yourself. By going much higher into the clouds and making full use of your imagination, you can create a vision which will draw you forward to a future that is much more satisfying. Career coaches are trained to help you dream big and later to take realistic steps that move you towards that more worthwhile vision.
To keep yourself thinking about the ideal, completely set aside (for the moment) the practical questions of where, when and how you might get that career. All those questions come later in the process and can only interfere until you are really clear about what your dream career is. Later on you can identify how you will move towards it.
Keep it positive
It’s often easier to think about what you don’t want rather than what you want. You might have examples in front of you every day of what you want to avoid, such as a bad boss, too much pressure, too little challenge etc. But you can’t find your way to a better situation only by moving away from the one you’ve got. You need to be consciously moving towards something better. So think about what you want. Write it down. And anytime you think of something you don’t want, convert it into a positive statement about what you want.
For example, if you think to yourself, I don’t want to work in a company with so much politics, ask yourself what kind of company culture you do want to experience? What would be the opposite of a company with ‘too much politics’? What does that mean to you? More warmth and friendliness? More common purpose? Less internal competition? It means different things to different people. And once you’re clear on what it is, make that part of your career goal.
Consider all aspects
When people are considering a radical career change, they sometimes tell me that they don’t want to think about how much money they would make. They believe that they might not be able to earn that much because they are new to the role. But this is realism, isn’t it? And I said above not to do that! It is very worthwhile to consider what you would like to earn. This will be an important consideration in moulding you career choices. Start with the dream career, and later you will work towards it step by step.
So let your dream include all aspects of your working life such as: pay, working hours, level of responsibility, location, skills, duties, goals, perks, learning, opportunities, working culture, organizational values and purpose. What else is important to you about your working life?
So, the next time you’re thinking that you want to a more fulfilling working life, what is the first thing you should do? Update your CV? Contact a recruiter? Ask your friends how they are getting along with their jobs? No! The best way to get started is by dreaming of the ideal career, and precisely identifying what you want. And if you want to move more quickly and easily towards that ideal work, considering hiring a career coach to support you and inspire you along the way.