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Career Change Solutions. The 5 Minute Career Coach October 2009
October 01, 2009

Helping Career Changers Around The World

October 2009


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

Fancy trying something just for fun? Yes?

OK then. If you were a shoe, what kind of shoe would you be?

No, I have not gone totally mad – well, maybe only a little! This is an exercise that Debs, one of my former clients, has built into a workshop she is running, and I thought it was both great fun but at the same time, very helpful.

Sometimes, when working with clients, I find that they have real difficulty in talking about the kind of person they are. They may come up with a few words – often things that other people have said about them, rather than their own view – and then they just dry up.

Debs’ exercise is one of those ideas that are just great at getting people to look at something – themselves in particular - in a totally new and different way.

And you can’t deny that thinking of yourself as a shoe is a bit different!

So, go on then...what shoe would you be?

Practical? Brightly coloured? High fashion? Studded soles? Easy to wear? Eye catching? Very expensive? Sensible and weatherproof? Glamorous?

Have a bit of fun with this one. Be playful. Think about what shoe would represent who you are. If you fancy the idea, why not draw or paint it?

You might like to do this exercise with a friend so that once you have come up with your design, you can share your ideas and describe to one another what it is about that shoe that makes it 'you'. If you are working alone, just take some time to consider what your shoe says about you.

This can be a fun and interesting way of beginning to identify what sort of person you are and you can add this understanding to the picture of yourself you are building up as you work on your career change.

And me?

I am quite a practical and comfortable shoe. The kind you could wear all day, where your feet feel immediately at home as soon as you slip them on. But I am a rich blue in colour (not too bold) and there is a little trim with red and white spots and probably a leather tassel with a dog on it. And then when I put my feet up, you will see a big smiley face on each of the soles!

Many thanks go to Debs from Catching Fireworks for letting me borrow the idea. If any of you live near London and are thinking of setting up your own business, do take a look at Debs’ workshop. I can guarantee you will come away feeling more confident about business planning and you will have had a lot of fun doing it!

And by the way, this is how Debs responded to the shoe exercise. 'If I were a shoe, I would be a red, glittery Doc Martens - red for passion, glittery for fun, and underneath it all, hard working and reliable.' I would say that sums her up very nicely!

With very best wishes

What’s in this Issue

Quote of the Day

'The greatest mistake you can make in life
is to be continually fearing you will make one.'

Elbert Hubbard

Don’t let fear freeze you into inactivity. Better to make mistakes and learn from them than do nothing at all.

Career Change – Finding the Solution

Do you want to change career, but don’t know how? Does your job drive you mad, but the whole career change thing just seems like an insurmountable problem?

Many career changers fail to get off the starting blocks because they get stuck in a problem focused position. This means you spend all your time worrying about the things that will get in the way of your career change, the factors that will prevent you from changing, the reasons why you can’t make it happen.

Now I don’t want to downplay the challenges, but taking a problem focused approach means that you set up a negative mindset before you even begin which hardly gets you off to a good start.

Solution focused coaching encourages a different approach, concentrating on future possibilities rather than past failures.

So how to you switch to a solution focused approach? Here are a few tips in the form of questions to help you make the shift.

What are your best hopes for the future?
Build up a positive picture of how you want your future to look. Think about the work you will be doing but include other aspects of your life too. How will things look and feel at home, how will your relationships be affected, how will you be spending your spare time? Don’t worry about how this will happen at this point – just create a picture that will inspire and draw you forwards and don’t let the ‘yes, buts’ creep in at this stage.

If you woke up tomorrow and your hopes for a career change had been realised, what would be the first thing you might notice different?
This question encourages you to focus on the positive outcomes that would follow when the change occurs. Build up a picture of what you will be doing and feeling rather than what will not be happening any longer. Put in as much detail as you can, including what other people will be seeing too.

If this is where you want to be, where are you now on a scale of 1 – 10 where 10 is the outcome you desire?
When you rate yourself like this, you may be able to acknowledge that you are making a little bit of progress with your career change after all, but maybe you are beating yourself up for not doing more. So take a look at what you are doing that is helping and do more of it. Identify what works for you and celebrate it rather than worrying about what isn’t working.

If you are very low on the scale, what stops you from moving lower?
If you are feeling very unmotivated, bear in mind that not every day is the same. Look out for the days when you feel slightly better – what is it that you are doing on those days that makes the difference? Always be on the look out for positive exceptions. Nobody feels totally stuck all the time. What is happening on the days when you feel more proactive about your career change? What does that tell you about how you can help yourself move forwards?

The benefits of being solution focused
Using the solution focused approach encourages you to always give yourself credit for what you are doing and to be aware of what is working for you already. If you have tried to change career in the past and found you ran out of motivation, don’t dwell on the failure, but to look at the little bits of that attempt that did work.

You don’t always solve problems by endlessly analysing them. Sometimes, if you can break out of the problem mindset, the answer is there in front of you. You will probably find you are doing some of the right things already and that will always be a boost to your motivation and help you to keep your career change plans moving.

Why not give the solution focused approach a try?

The Career Change Question

Challenging questions are a key tool in helping to create change.

Each month I offer you a question to think about. Just let the question 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 you career and for your life.

When thinking about your career change do you find this question going round in your head?

'What if I fail?'

My challenge to you this month is to replace that question with

'What can I do to ensure I don’t fail?' and 'What will I feel when I discover I can succeed?'

'What if' questions can often prematurely kill off new ideas that are beginning to take shape in your mind, including those relating to career change. They contain a touch of perfectionism which may be holding you back.

Recognise that there will never be a perfect time. You will never get all the variables just right. So just put in as much ground work as you reasonably can and go for it! And, in keeping with the solution focused approach, think about how great you will feel when you have taken control and made the changes you know you need.

Recommended Resources

My recommended resource this month is:

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway
Susan Jeffers

A great book that tackles one of the key blocks that stops people from making changes in their careers and in their lives.

First of all, it is a great reassurance to have it acknowledged that we are all running scared – at least some of the time. Many a CEO is secretly worried that one day, he will get found out! So join the club.

Perhaps the best way of explaining the approach Susan Jeffers takes, is to share the five truths she identifies about fear.

  1. Fear doesn’t go away while you are still growing. So fear is a good sign – it is absence of fear that you should be worried about.

  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.

  3. The only way to feel better about that fact that you are fearful is to go out and face the fears and then enjoy being proud of your achievements.

  4. You will probably feel afraid when you push yourself into unfamiliar situations – but so will everyone else!

  5. Pushing through the fear barrier is scary, but not as scary as living with the helplessness that comes from not pushing through.

Susan’s book is a great bookshelf staple to return to every time you feel the 'yes, but' arguments creeping in. There is no magic wand to make the fear go away, but a warm and encouraging style that will help you to do what the title says

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

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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