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7 Key Steps to Create a Satisfying Career

Stuck in your job or your career but don’t know why? Often in our careers we stall… get stuck in a rut… have a lack of clarity on our next step. This rut, in fact, can be in any part of your life. When this happens a coach can help. A coach helps to get you unstuck, free you up to see further down the road, create a vision of where you would like to be, map it out and then support you as you make that plan a reality.

There are some key steps a coach may guide you through to create breakthroughs that get you moving toward a more fulfilling job and career.

Here are the key steps to getting unstuck:

1. Take a snapshot of where you are now.

This is done by exploring key work areas and identifying where you currently experience high, medium and low levels of satisfaction. These areas include such things as: time management, organization, communication, team participation, clarity about roles and duties, work relationships, work volume, and satisfaction with job performance. Taking a look at these areas starts to shine a light on what is energizing you and what is depleting your energy. Energizing activities move you forward; depleting activities keep you where you are.

Once you have a handle on this, you can then begin coming up with objectives. They can include: to clarify my role, achieve better work/life balance, improve communications with my manager, decrease work stress, get more organized, improve conflict resolution, and so on.

2. Identify what’s holding you back.

Have you ever said or done something and after the fact you have that critical self talk? You know the voice: ‘you shouldn’t have, you’ll never…, you are too.., you are not ____ enough…” This is the voice of the saboteur, the part of us that holds us back from creating great success. This step involves identifying and taming him/her.

When we understand what fuels the saboteur it’s much easier for us to create positive change.

Many things can hold us back. It can be a trigger from a previous experience, job, or family expectations. For example: a client of mine found that she always had to have the last word in meetings. We discovered that the trigger went back to the relationship she had with an overpowering manager early in her career. Now that she is conscious of and understands the trigger she handles this situation much better and is much more effective in meetings. She busted through what was holding her back.

What’s holding you back may not be as scary as you think? Suppose you’re afraid to say “no” to people on your work team. When you explore it, you may realize that it is because of a fear, such as fear of rejection, acknowledgement or being wrong. That insight can be huge and freeing. It allows you to move forward in your work, communications and career.

3. Map out a plan/set goals.

In this step you begin to identify where you want to be and set a plan to achieve these goals. You want to identify your values – the things that propel you out of bed in the morning. Values are a deep reflection of who you are and what’s most important to you. Values act as organizing principles for your life. So in a meeting, if you have an immediate reaction to something someone says, that may be because someone has “stepped” on your values.

Values can include recognition, approval, popularity, power, control, affiliation, acknowledgement, safety, knowledge, health and leadership (self-leadership, team leadership and personal leadership) and a whole myriad of other values. It’s really about what’s most important to you, what you hold so close that you wont’ let go of it.

Ask yourself: How did I get here – in this job/career – and where do I really want to be? People often have a moment of realization: I’m not where I expected to be at the age I’m at.

This is an ongoing step. Until now, you’ve been reflective. Now you need to know what’s going to move you forward. You might say: I have five objectives for the next three months – taking a course, finding a mentor, exercising 3 times per week, having ‘me’ time once a week, and having a real conversation with someone that I’ve had difficulty with.

Part of this step involves identifying your passions and purpose. This is where we look at what makes you excited about what you’re doing. When you pursue your vision without passion, there’s no life in your vision. This can happen when you’re told to do something, or are enticed by money to take on a role that’s not the best one for you. For instance, if loving detail and making a process out of systems can be something you’re passionate about. When you’re given an opportunity to flex that, you see the best in yourself. You need to align your actions with your passions.

When you identify your purpose, you figure out why you are here, and what it is you really want to focus on. The two go hand-in-hand.

Another part of this step is to identify your strengths and any areas you would like to get even better at. One way to do this is to survey three people who know you really well. Ask them: What are my areas of strength?

Suppose you’re organized, detailed and methodical, you’re in a marketing role, and you can’t figure out why you don’t like what you’re doing. Your strength is in process and your role is in people. So you’ve got the wrong work focus.

Ask yourself: How can I shift this role? From an organizational perspective, the more you focus on your strengths, the more productive, satisfied and content your team will be. Happiness does impact the bottom line.

4. Create a vision story.

Vision is a prerequisite for action. Without vision you can’t fulfill the proceeding steps. To move forward take what you’ve learned from the other steps and start to create a vision of what life could be in a year, or two or three years from now. This can be really exciting, especially when you see what’s possible. To do this, sit quietly for 30 minutes and write a story about your life as you want it to be—one that inspires you. If you are focusing on work consider what you are doing, your work environment, the team you are working with, your salary and the accomplishments you will have. If you are doing this as a life view consider all parts of your life: where you live, what activities you are doing, who is in your circle of friends, travel, volunteer work, etc.

This process starts the wheels in motion. You should find that you begin to act in a way that leads you to the result you want. Suppose you’re a receptionist and your goal is to be assistant to the president of your organization. In your receptionist roll, the senior admin job might seem very far away. But when you create your vision for it, you’ll start to connect to the right people, and to take on the projects that will help you move forward.

So it’s up to you – do you know where you want to be in a year or two? These steps will help clarify the path. Imagine it’s like a lighthouse illuminating the path, showing you the way.

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