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What Is Your Career Status?

Have you ever taken 'just a moment' to sit back and daydream a little about your current career situation. We're going to dive right in and go through a very thorough career diagnosis in order to better understand where we are and where we'd like to be. It's very help work to go beneath the layers if you really want to understand whats going on.

Very often, individuals are very narrow focused on what they see as their immediate career issues or concerns and make assumptions about their solutions, rather than seeing a holistic bigger picture.

Let's start by looking broadly at your current career situation and then examine it in a more detailed fashion from a number of different perspectives.

(Now get out your favorite pen and paper... and let's begin...!)

Exercise 1: Career Health Check

A. Write down your answers to the following questions, providing as MUCH detail as possible.

B. If you are not currently working, answer the questions related to your previous role.

  1. On a Monday morning, how do you feel about the prospect of going into work?

  2. Which aspect of your work do you like or are of interest to you?

  3. What parts of your work are the least enjoyable or interesting?

  4. What have your relationships with your manager and colleagues been like?

  5. Has your work situation affected life outside work?

  6. When you talk about your work to others, are you typically positive or more negative?

  7. What do fiends and family think of your career situation?

  8. What would you like to change about your current job / career situation?

  9. Do you know what role you would like next? If so, what is it?

  10. Are there any threats to your current role, for example redundancy?

  11. How employable do you think you are - and how have you tested this?

  12. Is there anything else which is relevant career-wise?

Now that we've completed this initial career health check and gained an overview of your current career situation, let's explore a little further and a little deeper...

As human beings, the way we view our world, is very subjective. Therefore, the way you see your career is going to be very narrowly focused - until you take the time to reflect on what's working and which areas you'd like to improve upon.

I find it VERY interesting that a job that one person does is absolutely boring and monotonous to another. As an example, my dad has been a CPA (numbers guy // black + white kind of thinking; never gray areas!) for 30+ years. I, on the other hand, am more of an airy fairy and social butterfly that is the queen of flexibility. I'd be TOTALLY crazy if I was literally 'crunchin numbers' everyday. Ahh! And I'm sure he feels the same way if the tables were turned.

This subjectivity is perfectly natural and likely to be influenced by many things including your current state-of-mind, your upbringing, cultural factors, self-expectations and your life experiences to date.

Unfortunately, sometimes subjectivity can place unnecessary stumbling blocks in our way throughout the process. 

Exercise #2: Picture Your World

A. You are going to draw a picture of your world. It's a snapshot of your DREAM world vs a realistic viewpoint. Feel free to ADD some color or simply sketch it out with your pen in black + white.

B. It could include physical things such as people or places as well as amore intangible elements such as emotions, events or metaphors.

C. There are absolutely NO rules about what you should put in your drawing, but some suggestions might include:

  • your key challenges, for ex: difficult relationships at work

  • any issues you feel you are wrestling with, like career indecision or inner conflicts

  • your health and well-being, for ex: stress or anxiety

  • significant people, including family members and loved ones

  • your commitments and priorities, such as family life and hobbies

  • your social life and activities outside work

[TIP: Find a way to represent in your picture any emotions you find.]

D. Be as spontaneous as possible and include anything that comes into your head - even if it seems relatively minor in the scheme of things. Enjoy being creative and expressive. You are the ONLY one who needs to understand your pictures, do don't stress or worry about how it looks.

E. Take a minimum of 20 minutes to do your drawing, which you can either complete below or on a separate piece of paper which you should keep for reference.

F. Once you have finished your drawing, take a moment to look at the whole picture and think about what it is telling you. Now answer the questions below:

  1. What key elements did you choose to include in your picture and why?

  2. Are there people in your picture? If so, describe the nature of your relationship with time...

  3. What, if any, emotion(s) did you feel or represent in the picture? For example love, pride, uncertainty, frustration.

  4. Did you picture show any areas of conflict or tension?

  5. What are the positive aspects of your picture?

  6. Are there any important elements missing from the picture that you have forgotten or perhaps taken for granted?

  7. What do you see as your current challenge?

  8. If you could choose to change just ONE element of your current situation, what would it be?

  9. Is there anything you could do right now that would change your picture for the better?

  10. Did anything else come out of this exercise for you?

Let's look more closely at what you've drawn and WHY.

These types of pictures often express very clearly where the problems or tensions life in our current situation, how strongly we feel about them and how they relate to other aspects of our lives.

If elements of your picture seem disproportionately large, this may reflect just how much time your are spending thinking, worrying or dealing with this. Because this picture is a subjective one, interpreting your picture is a very personal experience. Only you know why you chose to include some items and not others and why you represented them the way you did. This exercise is simply a reflection of you conscious and subconscious thoughts that feel very important right now.

Understanding your emotional landscape is an essential part of the career journey process because managing your career can be very challenging psychologically. It often involves activities outside most people's normal comfort zones. Your emotions can be a great motivator to propel you into action but they can also sometimes make things more difficult than they need to be. This exercise was designed by Corinne Mills to raise awareness of your emotional forces at work. You may find these pop up repeatedly as you continue your career journey.

Work-Life Balance

Now lets take a look at your life outside of working hours.

Work/life balance may be one of the MAIN reasons you started researching for other career options online. The information provided will really provide you with a useful benchmark for a happy and health work/life balance, something that always need careful monitoring. (I know this VERY well on a personal level - especially when you begin really enjoying what you do daily!)

While many employers have adopted more flexible, family-friendly policies, encouraged by legislation, there is still a strong expectation that when you are at work your personal life doesn't intrude into work time.

Its imperative that we move away from compartmentalization of your working and personal life. Even it you think you can keep them separate, the reality is that they are in constant dialogue.

Many of us have career ambitions but we would probably both agree that we are likely to have life aspirations as well! These may be about having a loving relationship, traveling the world, purchasing a home, raising happy children, giving back within your community, deepening your spirituality or anything that is fundamental to your sense of self and life's purpose. These are likely to influence your career choices, too.

Many of us have other roles, responsibilities, and interests, for examples: as a parent, partner, friend, carer, citizen, contributing towards your community or pursuing hobbies and causes close to your heart.

However, work/life balance does need careful monitoring because it is very easy for work to become all-consuming, leaving little time and energy for anything else. If we don't make time for other activities and interests outside work, then we can become very singular and lose our sense of personal identity. Otherwise, we can place a real strain on our health, well-being and relationships and that is not good either for our career or personal life.

This is not to say we shouldn't work hard because if we want to process our career, or even stay in our job, that is what we are expected to do. There is also no doubt that in times of economic uncertainty, there are additional pressures on workloads because of staff redundancies.

When you think about your 'balance' what comes to mind...?

The reality is that many individuals not only work long hours but are also constantly thinking about work, to the possible detriment of their personal lives.

Work/life imbalance is a very common problem because when we get home, exhausted...stressed... we have very little energy for anything else.

Are you working late because there is a genuine need?

Or could it be that you, rather than your employer / business, are responsible for blurring the work/life boundaries?

However, it can equally be the individual's self-expectation that are causing the problem.

Reference(s):

Mills, Corrine. 2011. Career Coach: your personal workbook for a better career.

 

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