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Are you Curious? The 5 Minute Career Coach Sept 2009
September 01, 2009

Helping Career Changers Around The World

September 2009


Welcome to the September edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach!

I hope you have been having a great summer and have been able to take a bit of time out from the daily routine to relax and recuperate.

Time to relax
For me, a bit of time up in the wilds of Northumberland in the north of England was just what was needed. Big empty beaches with ruined castles standing dramatically on the horizon; wild, open moorland with the remains of the Roman Wall between England & Scotland snaking across the hills; and then homely pubs where you can enjoy a leisurely drink after a long walk with the dog. (We probably spent a bit more time in the pubs and less on the moors on this occasion, thanks to the rain!)

What works best for you as a means of chilling out and recharging the batteries?

We all need a bit of time off from the mad daily whirl – from work, from family, even from planning a career change. On that score, maybe you have got to a point where you feel your determination to change career has gone off the boil a bit?

If that is the case, don’t beat yourself up about it. Sometimes you need to switch off the conscious striving for a while and this is when new ideas bubble away unconsciously in the back of your mind. When you switch back into gear, you can sometimes be surprised at what new possibilities emerge.

New beginnings
For me, September often brings a sense of rolling my sleeves up and getting back to work again as the holiday period draws to a close. Maybe it is because I have worked in the education sector for much of my career. September can be an exciting time of new beginnings – a change of school or just moving up a grade, starting college, a new academic year.

So what about you? Maybe September can be a new beginning for you too, when you rekindle your career change plans? Or do you have another project you can knuckle down to and focus on as the days begin to draw in? What will it be and who will you tell about it so that they can keep you on target?

Whatever it is, I am right there behind you to encourage you as you make progress!

With very best wishes

What’s in this Issue

Quote of the Day

I love some of the quotes and aphorisms that you find in careers and self help books. So often they seem to encapsulate something I have struggled with in my own life or have seen coaching clients grapple with. I hope they can inspire you too.

'You must do the thing you think you cannot do'
Eleanor Roosevelt

Let’s face it, this is the only way you will really grow. If you only ever play safe and tackle things where you know you can succeed, you will never get that real sense of achievement that comes from knowing that you have dared and won!

So you think you can’t change career? Go on – I dare you to do it and prove all the doubters wrong!

Are You Curious Enough To Change Career?

Are you curious?

Do you wonder why things happen the way they do? Do you find it interesting to consider what makes you behave in certain ways? Do you like reading and talking to people to find out about other people’s lives and work?

I hope the answer is 'Yes'!

Why is that?

Because I think that curiosity is an invaluable asset when it comes to changing careers. If you are looking for a significant change of direction in your new career, then you need to be ready to cast your mind and imagination out like a wide net – and curious people do this all the time out of habit.

I often think of the career change process as a kind of diamond shape where the first stage is all about broadening out from the point where you now stand. Before you can even begin to pinpoint your new career, which lies at the top of the diamond, you need to open up your horizons and explore the wealth of possibilities with an open and curious mind.

So what do you need to be curious about?

First and foremost about yourself.

Who are you?
Some people are naturally reflective and spend time working out what makes them tick. But not everyone has this habit.

If you are looking for a new direction in your career (and this often means in your life too) then you need to work out exactly who this person is who is looking for a new direction.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What interests and inspires me?
  • What are my natural strengths?
  • What skills have I acquired through work so far and from other activities in my life?
  • What things do I consider to be important in my work?
  • What kind of person am I and how do I prefer to behave in different situations?

Then be curious about the experiences you have had of work so far.

  • What (or who) made me choose the career I am in at the moment?
  • What has been good about the work I have done?
  • What have I not enjoyed at work?
  • What do I think work ‘should’ be about – in other words, what expectations do I have of work?

The world of work
When you have looked at yourself, it is time to turn your attention outwards and be curious about the amazing world of work – it is much more varied than you realise. Just take a bit of time to consider all the different ways people make a living.

  • What different occupational areas can you think of that people work in?
  • What about individual jobs? I challenge you to make a list of at least 150 different jobs – and there are many more than that.
  • And what do people’s jobs actually involve? Who could you go and talk to to find out more?
  • And what variations on the standard 9-5 do people adopt? There are lots of different working patterns.
  • How many different possible employers can you identify? Just pick up a newspaper to get you started.

What is stopping you?
Be curious about the obstacles that you put in your own way. Don’t worry, we all do it. We have all built up images of ourselves and of our world which in some ways help us manage on a day to day basis, but on the occasions when you are trying to make a big life change, these images can hold you back and keep your perspective narrow.

So ask yourself the big questions.

  • What is stopping me from changing career? Make a long list of all the possible blocks.
  • If these obstacles were not there, what would I consider?
  • What can I do to challenge these obstacles and to build a new and more helpful map of my world?

So get in the habit of asking questions – why, how, what, when, who? Don’t just assume things are as they are and that nothing can be done about it. Being curious about alternative possibilities is the first step to making them actually happen.

The Career Change Question

Coaches love questions because they can really get you thinking and can help you explore where you are and where you are going. So each month I pose a question for you to think about.

Don’t just give these questions a quick and glib response. Let them wander round your mind for a few days, or even weeks and see what answers unfold for you. They are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities for your career and for your life.

Is what I am doing right now taking me closer to
or further away from the working life I want?

A simple question which just points out that the changes you want to make don’t necessarily arise from big, momentous actions, but in fact can be helped or hindered in the small, day-to-day details.

What is the impact of what you are doing at an everyday level? Are you just trudging on with your head down, repeating the same old patterns or are you making use of the many opportunities that are there if you just look up and out. Does you everyday routine keep you stuck or help you to take small steps along the road you really want to travel?

Recommended Resources

My recommended resource this month will be of interest to you if you have always rather fancied running your own business but think it would be too difficult.

Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love
Barbara Winter

I love the way Barbara talks about being Joyfully Jobless. No, she does not mean lying on a beach doing nothing – she means no longer having a job which shackles you to an employer you hate. The joy comes from at last being in control of your life, working when, where and how you want.

For me there are two important messages about self employment in Barbara’s book:

  1. She encourages you to consider earning a living from multiple profit centres
  2. She shows you that you can start on a small scale and just let your business grow gradually
So if the idea of being self employed has scared you off because you think you have to wait till you have a Big Idea which requires a Big Business Plan and a Big Lump of Capital, then take heart.

There is another way.

Her book is divided up into the following sections:

Getting to know your new boss
Taking the time to get to know yourself a little better and to find out what you really want from work.

Doing your homework
Exploring what have you got to offer and what are your goals. Identifying the obstacles and finding how you can overcome them. Being sure to take care of yourself so you don’t burn out.

Exploring your options
Introducing multiple profit centres and outlining six broad categories you could consider to get you started.

Turning passions into profits
Gives practical suggestions for generating business ideas, how to get them started and some basic tips for marketing on a small budget.

Creating world headquarters
Making the transition from employed to self employed. Enjoying the excitement of getting the show on the road and then keeping focused as you progress.

At the end of the book you will find 10 pages of further reading and useful contacts. Some of these may be a little out of date now, but they will still provide you with lots of good info and inspiration.

Barbara’s book is easy to read and gives you the feeling of having a warm and supportive friend walking alongside you and encouraging you.

So if you need convincing that being your own boss could actually be a real possibility, I recommend this book as a great starting point which will inspire you and leave you raring to go!

More recommendations

If you would like to see more recommendations for books and similar resources, follow the link to the Career Change Books page of the How To Change Careers website. Do keep popping back to it as I am adding to it all the time.

And if there are books and resources that have inspired you and that you would like to recommend, there is a place for you to do so on that page.

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