One of the upsides of being downsized (see last post) is that you have the opportunity to re-evaluate your career aspirations. For many people it’s a chance to take a hard look at what they really want to do – rather than try to sleepwalk into what they have always been doing. That may mean setting a new career direction, retooling or retraining – or even re-branding yourself.
But before you re-invent yourself, make sure you remember who you already are! What I mean is rather than looking externally at all the shiny new career possibilities, make sure you also look internally to ensure the right fit and to bring forth the best of you as you move forward.
A look inside — The inner game reflection encompasses a bunch of stuff. Here are two lenses to consider:
1) Mine Your Strengths: You have acquired job-specific strengths and talents, and you also have a whole bunch of other strengths that intrinsic to your character that may or not be associated with your past role and career. Conduct a self audit and list as many as you can. Also ask friends, family, former colleagues, clients, bosses for their input (like a 360…you can even use some of the free online 360 tools). If coming up with strengths is challenging for you, then start with your accomplishments. List those far and wide (work and personal) then step back and ask: what strengths of mine lent themselves to those achievements? You can also go to www.viacharacter.org and do the online assessment for VIA Signature Strengths which will help you identify some of your top ‘character strengths’.
There are many angles to take when reflecting on your strengths. It should not be a quick task – take your time, revisit it, build the list and stay in that reflection. You will use that knowledge as you explore career possibilities — as well as in your personal marketing (i.e your resume, letters/emails, your conversations in interviews and networking, etc….perhaps more to come in another blog post sometime soon) .
2) Articulate Your Core Values: Core values are the building blocks of who you are and not necessarily attributes you feel you should have. They may be linked to your morals but they aren’t your morals. They simply are part of your character ‘dna’ and what is most important for you to feel fulfilled, alive and authentic. Most people I start coaching relationships with can’t articulate their core values off-hand –that is until we’ve spent some time together. Knowing your core values is like having a compass to help you choose meaningful work and life decisions. Examples: I have a value for freedom. In my interpretation that means I need freedom in how I work and live. I can’t be pidgeon-holed. It doesn’t mean I can’t work in traditional employment (have for many years successfully and loved it!) but the environment and culture to some extent has to honour this value for me to perform my best. I also have a value for learning. I wilt when I stop learning. There’s more. But the key is to find your own and declare and own them to yourself.
How? You can either hire a coach to help you discover your values or you can reflect on your own. Pick a few moments in your work and life experience (from both would be great) that you would define as ‘peak’. That’s when ‘all was well’ and you felt most alive or at least authentic and fulfilled. Describe those moments and reflect on what about them was meaningful to you. Ideally, have someone to partner with and have them listen for themes, etc. Step away and see if you can identify themes that may represent values for you. Start with a rough list of possibilities (themes or actual words that represent a value). Test them out by considering other moments/experiences in your life. In the positive moments, what of those themes were present? In the negative ones, which one’s were compromised? This should be a good starting point – but like strengths, stay in the reflection and let yourself further evolve your clarity and recognition of your values.
APPLICATION: Once you’ve created a starting list of your strengths and values, make sure you pay attention to them until they become an intrinsic part of your self awareness. As you explore career opportunities, evaluate their potential for fulfillment and success as measured against your strengths and values.
ASK: To what extent will this job or career path align with my values? to what extent will it draw on my strengths? Which of my values might be compromised and can I live with that (note: not all values will always be honoured so know what your non-negotiable, highest priorities are)? What do I need to further explore and/or ask/research to assess whether this career path would be a good fit with my values and strengths?
MORE on Strengths: Here’s another post you may enjoy that illustrates how Signature Strengths can be integral to our overall ‘mojo’ (joie de vie)….life success and fulfilment. It relays a story about a lizard who…..well, you can read it HERE.
There’s more of course, but hopefully these two ideas will be a good start. Now over to you, your strengths and values — here’s to creating your next TGIM Work-life!
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