When COVID hit, I braced myself for an onslaught of out-of-work jobseekers needing help landing jobs FAST. And make no mistake, with recent layoffs, this has been the case.
Yet I’ve noticed another surprising phenomenon the COVID quarantine has had on professional women.
I’ve had many successful corporate women reaching out to me quietly admitting that this downtime has had them rethinking their career paths. The pandemic has forced them off the hamster wheel of intense commutes, 10 hour work days, and office intensity.
They’ve allowed themselves to reflect on their current careers. You know… all that inner work that we were too busy for before.
Now I’m hearing professionals ask things like….
“Is this all there is?”
“Is this what I want to be doing for the next 15 years?”
“I could get used to working remotely, having more downtime, being with my family.”
“I’m dreading going back to the office. Maybe I don’t WANT to go back to the way things were.”
When we are faced with life and death scenarios such as COVID – we start to reflect on what really matters.
The truth is, we spend one third of our lives at work.
Do we want to feel full of purpose and vigor? Excited to fling the sheets off the bed in the morning and get our day started?
Or miserable, numb, full of angst and dread?
Check out these 10 ways to use this down time to reflect and explore where your career path could ultimately lead.
1. Meet Your Future Self
Close your eyes…. And imagine meeting a version of your future self.
This future self is the best possible version of YOU that you could be.
She is in an extraordinary career she loves. She is glowing, happy, successful, and radiates inner peace.
You ask her what life and career is like for her now? What steps did she take to get there? What was the FIRST step she took?
I love to give my clients guided audio visualization exercises where they meet this version of their future self.
Oftentimes your future self has words of wisdom for you.
2. Unpack Your Past
You’ve been visited by the “Ghost of your Career Future” and now it’s time for a visit from the “Ghost of your Career Past.”
Don’t discard your past. Learn from it.
I devote a full session with my clients to deep diving into their job history.
It’s important to understand…..
1) What did you LOVE about each job? (Let’s replicate that.)
2) What are you no longer willing to tolerate about each job? (Let’s avoid that.)
Your job history holds massive clues to your job future.
3. Personality Type
Do you know your Myers Briggs personality type?
And a more important question: Does your current career match up with your personality type?
I’m an INFJ. As I reflect on my previous career in corporate communications, I can now see why it felt so uncomfortable. I crave down time, not constant interaction. I prefer to go deep working with people one-on-one. I cringe staying surface level. I dread tons of group collaborations. The list goes on.
At the time I felt like something was wrong with me at my last role. Like a square peg in a round hole…. But the truth is… there was NOTHING wrong with me. I was simply in a career wrong for my personality type.
Low and behold, when I started to examine recommended career paths for INFJ, “Coach” was up there at the top.
It’s important that you factor in your personality type for your ideal career path.
What MOTIVATES you when it comes to your career?
If you are in a line of work that doesn’t MOTIVATE you…. It’s going to be a struggle just to get through the day.
Here are a couple examples of some of the motivators I have my clients rank out:
- Lifestyle: The position allows ample time to pursue other important aspects of my lifestyle (family, leisure activities, etc.)
- Affiliation: The position offers a setting with enjoyable colleagues with whom I feel a sense of belonging.
- Financial Gain: The position provides excellent opportunity for exceptional financial reward.
- Recognition: The position is in an environment where individual accomplishments are recognized with praise from peers and superiors.
- Intellectual Challenge: The position offers consistent intellectual challenge.
And there are many more…
It’s important that you understand which motivators are at the top of your list.
One of the assessments I give my clients is specifically designed to recommend careers based on the unique combination of motivators, skills, and interests.
5. State of Flow
Have you ever been in a state of flow?
Time seems to fly. You could do that particular activity forever.
Think of different job functions that you LOVE doing. You look FORWARD to doing. It may currently be the smallest slice of your day, but grab onto this clue.
The goal is that we identify careers where you can increase the amount of time spent doing these specific job functions where you are in a state of flow.
Perhaps you love moments in your day when you can solely focus on coaching your team.
Perhaps you love moments in your day when you are writing or creating.
I challenge you to begin to notice these glimmers throughout your day.
When there is a misalignment between your values and your career, you will feel a sense of angst and discomfort.
It’s important to first identify what your values are.
I give my clients a list and coach them through prioritizing and understanding their values.
Next, we examine which career paths would align with their values.
My personal values include autonomy, freedom, and passion.
I realized that my previous role in corporate communications was a complete mismatch – I had little autonomy and certainly didn’t feel a sense of freedom or passion around what I did.
As a career coach, the work I do is now perfectly aligned with my values.
What are your career values? Are you living them?
What are you naturally gifted at doing?
Think about the parts of your current job or previous jobs that you could do in your sleep.
Where are others constantly coming to you for help?
This is an important clue for your next career.
When you step into a role that allows you to maximize your strengths, you have a much higher likelihood of success and satisfaction.
8. Life Plan
It’s important that you examine not just what you want your career to look like…. But what you want your life to look like.
Because your career is simply a bridge to get you closer to living the life you want to create.
What do you want life to look like in 5 years? Where are you living? What does your ideal day look like? Who are you spending your time with?
Draw it out as if you are painting on a blank canvas.
9. Personal Mission Statement
When you sign on to a corporate job, by default, you are signing on to their mission statement.
This needs to be the other way around.
You need to start with YOU. What’s your personal mission statement? What were you put on this earth to do?
Define your “why.”
What’s that one thing that would get you excited to rip the sheets off on a Monday and get to work?
Once you have your personal mission statement, you then want to reverse engineer it as it pertains to your dream job.
In other words, seek out companies whose mission statement aligns with yours.
Seek out roles that would allow you to honor your personal mission statement every day.
10. Now Tie It All Together
Part of the Career Bliss Coaching Process I developed, is to deeply explore each of the above steps with my clients. As a career coach, I’m trained to ask questions to probe underneath your answers to understand what is really going on.
Then we take all these clues…. And input them into what I call a “Dream Career Scorecard.”
We cross reference these important pieces of what makes you who you are, up against your “Best Bet Career Paths.” And then we rank out to what degree each career path scores out under each set of criteria.
This is important, because it moves you out of “shiny object syndrome” (that career sounds good) and into black and white – this career scored out the highest and makes the most sense for me. This way you can get behind your choice and feel confidence and empowered moving into your new path.
I encourage you to START the path of introspection and exploration NOW.
This is a journey.
Don’t wait until you’ve burnt out at your current role or worse.
You owe it to yourself to gain clarity on a career path that will allow you to be the BEST possible version of yourself.
You owe it to your loved ones who want to see you happy. Your kids who are looking at you as their example.
You owe it to the world to embrace your gifts. You have something unique and powerful and the world is waiting for you.
We WILL come out of this pandemic. Maybe not anytime soon. But once we do…. Know that you don’t have to step right back into your old career…. your old life.
You have the opportunity to take this challenging time and reinvent your path.
Who do you want to be? Who do you want to become? What parts of the old you, do you want to hang on to with your career? What parts do you want to release?
It won’t happen by default.
It will happen once you’ve gone deep enough inside to know what you want your outside to look like.
HAVE I LIT A FIRE UNDERNEATH YOU YET?
Start the discovery process to uncover what your dream career truly is.
Let’s do this.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Betty Kempa, CPC-ELI-MP is one of the industry’s top career change strategists. She specializes in helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into careers they love using her signature 5-step Career Bliss Coaching formula. Her clientele includes executive women from companies such as Google, Sephora, PayPal, WorkDay, and numerous Fortune 500 companies. Betty is a thought leader in the industry who writes and speaks on topics such as: overcoming imposter syndrome, dream career clarity, and effective career change strategy. Visit her at bettykempa.com or connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/kempabetty/