Are you into bullet journaling? Or BuJo as the cool kids call it? I can’t imagine you’ll need even a fraction of these ideas, but hopefully they will inspire you to organize your career in a new way. But beware, once you start with this stuff, you’re gonna be the crazy adult with like 12 pens, 3 rolls of washi tape and an actual paper journal in your purse. It’s a thing.
Before I work with any client I always ask them one question:
“What is the #1 thing holding you back from career success?”
To this question I get dozens of answers. Dozens and dozens. Like way too many dozens of eggs left over from Easter dozens. But all of those answers are rewordings of one single problem. Always.
“A clear focus on what I want to do/should be doing.”
I hear you. So loud. So clear. Trust me when I tell you I know the frustration. The feeling that somehow everyone else has been let in on some secret that you’re not cool enough to know.
The secret though? That’s bullshit. Most people feel the same way you do!
Why? What the hell man?! It’s because we’re not taught how to manage our careers. We’re taught what to know to get certain jobs and sometimes how to get jobs, but rarely, if ever, how to manage our careers once we’re in them. We are left to our own devices and frazzled HR directors who have no time to have a career growth chat because they have to run payroll, get the new benefits system up and running and talk to Joe about not wearing his daisy dukes even on casual Fridays.
So what then? What are you supposed to do?
For starters, you absolutely don’t have to figure out your career all by yourself. Below is a roundup of some resources you might find helpful:
You could start with career blogs. There are so many talented people out there writing and offering help, to you, for free.
Want someone to do the heavy lifting for you? Leverage recruiters and even temp agencies! Their job is to analyze your skills and place you in a job you’d thrive in. You could try some national agencies like Premier Staffing or .
You could try taking a few tests. I personally am not a fan of these and I don’t use them in my practice but many people really like them and find them useful. There is one called Strengthsfinder that many companies rely on. Once you know what your strengths are you can make sure you are focusing on those in whatever role you’re in because working to your strengths = happiness.
Oprah apparently has an awesome (and free) career assessment test too!
And of course there are career coaches. Now I know private coaching isn’t an option for everyone - but it truly IS the most comprehensive option. That said, many coaches offer lower cost group programs or self-paced online courses. There are so many amazing coaches out there - you just need to do a little research to find the best one for you.
See what I’m getting at? Don’t feel like you’re left to your own devices. Try one, two or a few - whatever feels good to you. But don’t leave your career to chance. Figure out what you love to do, want to do and make a plan.
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By now, if you’ve read anything I’ve written, seen anything I’ve posted, talked to me for more than 2 minutes or even glanced at my site out of the side of your eyeball you know I’m all about Career Design. I’m SO into it, I created a FREE COURSE to teach you how to do it. Cool? Ok.
So what the hell is Career Design?
Between working with clients and candidates and just talking to as many people as I do about their career aspirations, a pattern showed up. A fairly un-pretty, not at all decorative pattern. Turns out, A LOT (like WAY too many) people sort of “fell into” their careers. It doesn’t mean they don’t like their careers or that that they wish they were doing something else but for many it does mean that once they fell into it they sort of “set it and forget it” and now they find themselves sort of just “in” it. They have no real goals set, no idea how to grow, they’re unclear on what next steps might even be available to them.
Is this a tragic, earth-shattering, life wrecking situation? Most likely not, but it can be a slowly soul draining one. One where a person turns around five years from now, looks at their career and asks “what the hell?”
There’s also the people who work really hard to get a particular job title and then once they’re there have no idea how to continue growing, how to keep the work fulfilling. They often think that getting into the job was the end game and now they’ll be ushered along a primrose path of growth by their superiors….. nuh unh.
Your career is just like any other relationship - you gotta work on it!
This is where Career Design comes in. It’s a roadmap, a plan and a compass all rolled into one. How’s that exactly? Welp, here’s the breakdown of the system I use with my clients:
Explore what you REALLY want to do (in your heart of hearts)
Make the decision of THIS IS THE THING (for right now)
Outline what growth you want and BY WHEN
Make sure you work somewhere your goals can be met, you can learn from and has clear growth opportunities.
Work WITH your management team to make those milestones.
Repeat steps 1-5 as many times as you feel necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s work behind each of these “simple” steps. For instance, Step 1 hinges on your “why” (like your big life WHYS) - which you gotta own up to. And Step 4 can be anything from ‘Get a Promotion to Jr. from intern’ to ‘Retire your husband because you’re ballin’ as a partner in your own agency’. It’s totally personal.
I’m not going to lie and say it’s an easy process (I like ya too much), but it’s an incredibly important process. Look. If you’re a free wheelin’, hippie spirit who just wants to float on the sands of the wind and has no need for goals or job growth - more power to ya sister! - this just ain’t for you. But if you’re most of us, you need direction. A place to get to and a map of how to get there. Career Design is your map and your compass.
Want to dig in and finally design YOUR career? Get your very own, free course: "Career Design 101":
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Career fulfillment is a 100% personal concept. Fulfillment doesn’t mean you need to wake up every day with hearts and rainbows in your eyes about your job, but it does need to mean that you get true satisfaction from it - beyond a paycheck. What is fulfilling for one person could be a nightmare for another so you will need to define what “fulfillment” means - for you.
I believe that it is absolutely necessary to tap into your creativity if you are even considering a career change.
Career changes come about for several different types of reasons but they all have the same outcome - you have to pivot into something different than what you are doing now. While a lot of people find that terrifying, I see it as the ultimate opportunity to do something that makes you truly happy. It’s the chance to do something that fulfills you in a way your old job didn’t.
So why do I care if you're a good leader or not? Because truly good leaders see career growth on a whole other level. They foster the loyalty and respect of coworkers which leads to being crazy effective on the job and easily recommended for promotions and other opportunities - and that's what we're all about right?
Short answer: A LOT
Longer answer: A lot of overwhelming decisions based on working on… your work.
TL;DR: It’s a longer-than-you-would-like-completely-frustrating-at-times-but-totally-worth-it-process
So how exactly does a career change happen and what goes into it?
Lemme break it down for you with a little thing I like to call The Five I’s. This is 100% arbitrary by the way. I could have picked literally (in the real sense) any letter and forced them into this handy exercise, but today felt like an “I” day… so here ya go:
Introspection: This is where you need to grab a glass of your favorite beverage, find a quiet comfy spot and really dig deep. This is where you need to ask yourself the BIG questions. The what is important to me and why? questions. The will that really make me feel fulfilled? questions. The what gives me a sense of purpose? questions. The what do I value? questions.
Inspiration: Once you’ve taken the time to dig deep into your grey matter and your heart valves, it’s time to let inspiration, the A-Ha’s and Oh Really’s, hit. This is where you draw up a list of all those new-to-you possible careers based on what you decided was important to you during the Introspection phase.
Investigation: Now it’s time to find out if those careers really line up with your ideals, like in real life. This is where you get out there and do some field research. It’s time to experiment with a new skill, volunteer in a new role, research what your day to day would genuinely look like, talk to people to already have the gig you think you might want. Basically, this is the tough but fun stage. This is the work you gotta do on your work. The key here is to be comprehensive and to do the thing with intention. The key to it all? Keep a w-i-d-e open mind. You never know what opportunity will come your way!
Interviewing: Alright, so now you have to actually get the gig. This is going to mean ‘rewriting your narrative’ - which is a fancy way of saying you have to prove that you can do the job. This means showcasing your transferable skills on your LInkedIn profile, your resume and your website. It means being able to explain to potential employers why they should give you a shot. This may mean spending some time filling in skills gaps from your old career to your new. It will mean networking your ass off and getting someone to personally vouch for you.
Indulge: The last “I” is the best “I.” It’s now time to indulge. To simply bask in the awesomeness that is your new career, full of challenges, growth and fulfillment. You worked hard to get here. Enjoy the hell out of it!
Are you thinking of possibly changing careers? Check out my free workbook below to help you get started:
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Maybe you have a job, but you’re unfulfilled. Are you climbing the monetary ladder, but your gig isn’t in line with what you see yourself being happy doing long term? Maybe you are looking to switch careers but have no idea which direction to turn. Maybe everyone is telling you you need to “Follow your passion!” but you have no freaking idea what that might be. No matter what your sitch, let me guess… you’re stuck, frustrated, lost and freaking out to varying degrees.