The following seven tips are the cornerstones of my counseling and coaching work with people seeking changes to their lives and careers. The goal of effective career counseling and coaching is to capture the nuance of each individual, their personal and professional needs, and help them create lives of meaning, significance, and service.
7 Tips for Mid-Career Assessment
Be honest. If is scratches, itch it. If it hurts, fix it. Too often we ignore the signs that we need to change something in our professional lives. Our heath, relationships and professional productivity rely on the willingness to look deeply and honestly at the issues in our lives and careers. If something is not working then only we can initiate the change. Sometimes this is easier with help!
Ask for help. While we have to do this assessment by ourselves, we do not have to do it alone! Engage friends, partners, colleagues or professionals in assessing what is working now; what is missing; and what is needed to thrive in a career. Be prepared to think about work and life in a new way.
Change the question. We are not our job titles. Unfortunately, we have been raised to answer the question of ‘what’ we are going to be when we grow up. It is narrow, limiting, and lacks creativity. Ask instead ‘where’ will people pay us to do what we do well and care deeply about changing in the world. Be prepared to work hard to articulate and organize these professional and personal needs.
Know your needs. Don’t be afraid to articulate personal and professional needs. Examine four key areas for career success: skills, issues, people and environments. Think about what would be perfect by asking, “Where can I use my favorite skills to address important issues with engaging people in an environment that provides energy?” Be prepared to actively engage other people in identifying a good career fit.
Say it out loud. If we don’t say it, we won’t get it. These simple but true words make all the difference in moving from us from passive observers to active participants in our quest for career satisfaction. Unfortunately, we rarely provide others with clear and specific statements about our careers. Synthesize your needs into a clear, articulate and concise ten-second statement. Then tell people what you are seeking!
Accept help. Here is what we know about people: we love to talk about ourselves; we are proud of our work; and we all want to help someone succeed! Our job in assessing careers is to allow people do these three things for us. Simply, ask for their time, tell them your story, and, finally, ask them if they know anyone who gets paid to be you! It can be shocking to learn how close or far we may be from true career satisfaction until we ask.
Take control. Start, Stop and Continue. Use this simple technique to create an action plan for change. First, what new things should we start doing to be more satisfied? Second, what old things should we stop doing to be more satisfied? Third, what current things should we continue doing to be satisfied? The key is to create a plan that is simple to create, implement and observe the outcomes.