Back to Back Issues Page
The 5 Minute Career Coach, Jan 2009 -- From Dreams To Action
January 04, 2009

Helping Career Changers Around The World

January 2009


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

I hope you have had an enjoyable time over Christmas and the New Year, whether it has been a long or short break.

Are you beginning to contemplate the year ahead?

You may well be feeling anxious about what is to come, with all the talk of economic downturn. The media are certainly having a field day in feeding our anxieties. But then many of us fall easily into the trap of seeing the negative of any situation – it is a kind of caution that is bred into us from an early age – and the media hardly help!

Does this cautious approach really help you? Does it keep you safe or does it just prevent you from making more of your life?

The positive psychology movement has shown us that people with an optimistic outlook on life are generally happier and more successful. As the saying goes, ‘you get what you focus on’. If you expect the worst and focus on the negative aspects of any life events, then you will probably find that things continue to look gloomy for you.

So can you change your habits of negative thinking?


Probably not overnight as old habits take a while to break. But decide now that in the New Year you will challenge the negative explanations you come up with, you will watch out for the over-generalisations where you say things ‘always’ or ‘never’ happen a certain way, you will stop blaming everyone else for things that go wrong and take responsibility for making your own changes to improve your situation. And you could start by watching or reading the depressing news stories a little less often!

Another good tactic is to take 10 minutes at the end of each day to take stock of what has been good for you, what you can feel grateful for. Even if it is only the fact that the sun on the frost in the early morning looked particularly beautiful, you got a seat on the train into work or a passer by gave you a cheerful smile and good morning, it is worth acknowledging these things and not letting the negatives overwhelm you.

Here’s to a positive and successful 2009!

With very best wishes.

What’s in this issue

  • Quote of the day
  • From Dreams To Action
  • The Career Change Question - Your Action Challenge
  • Recommended Resources

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 seen others struggle with. I hope the quotes I offer can inspire you too.

The problem in many people’s lives is not the absence of knowing what to do, but the absence of doing it.

Do you know you need to change career, but somehow it just remains a thought, an idea? My challenge to you is to commit to making 2009 the year when you take action. Remember that you do not need to start by resigning! Define the first small step you could take towards making your career change a reality - then take it!

From Dreams To Action

We all have dreams, and you probably have dreams about changing your career, having a totally different kind of working life. The problem with dreams is that they are too often kept in a magic box and you just get them out from time to time and play with them rather wistfully.

Especially when times are hard, it can be a real challenge to move from dreams to action.

So to help you over that block, here are my top seven tips to help you move from dreaming to doing.

  1. Allow yourself to dream in the first place. Dreams make it possible for you to move your thinking from the narrow channel you may be stuck in to exploring a host of possibilities that could be within your grasp.

  2. Capture your dreams. It really makes a difference if you write your dreams down. It is a bit like capturing a beautiful butterfly so you can look at it more closely. Writing your dreams down helps you to fill in the detail so it becomes more real.

  3. Acknowledge the challenges. Achieving dreams is not necessarily easy – if it was, then you would have done it already! Know that you will stumble along the way, that you will sometimes struggle to find the time or motivation. But that’s OK – you’re only human! Allow yourself a stumble, but then just pick yourself up and carry on.

  4. Find support. It will make an enormous difference to your ability to keep going as you strive to reach your career dreams if you have a companion along the way. This could be a friend who is making a similar career change journey, or a partner who will just be there to give you encouragement when the doubts set in.

  5. Take the first step. Don’t think it has to be a big one, but it has to be some small action, not just a thought or a promise. The only way you will reach your career dreams is to take action.

  6. Record your progress. Each day, make a note of what you have done to move towards your dreams. It may be only a tiny step, but it will give you evidence that you are making progress. You might like to reward yourself too when you have achieved a certain stage along the way. It all helps to keep you motivated.

  7. Be persistent and courageous. Depending on the changes you want to make, it could take some time for you to reach your dream and you may encounter some big challenges along the way. Make a commitment to yourself that you will just keep going regardless. Just keep that career dream in your mind to keep you focused. You only fail when you stop trying.

If you follow these tips - and I mean really act on them, don’t just read them - it will make a big difference to your ability to make the career changes you want in the year to come.

Make 2009 the year of your Career Change Project.

I believe strongly in the value of treating career change like an exciting project to engage in, so get yourself a file or folder to store your ideas in. (You can read more about this on the How To Change Careers website).

Use this folder to keep a record of what your career dream is, who is supporting you and what you have achieved towards your goal.

Are you ready to commit? Will 2009 be the year you make it happen at last?

The Career Change Question

Career change is not easy. It often requires a lot of hard and deep thinking about how you have been living your life up to now and how you would like it to be in the future.

Because I am a coach, I strongly believe in the power of asking challenging questions. Questions can help you explore where you are and where you are going.

These questions should not be given a quick and glib response, but instead you can just 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.

Try this one for size.

If all jobs were paid at the same salary and it would give me enough to live on, what kind of job would I choose to do?

This is a great one for getting you to face some of the beliefs you may have about money, beliefs which you may not even really be aware of, but which nevertheless get in the way of your career change plans. Use it to put all the money issues to one side for a moment and really think about what you would love to do.

Make a note in your Career Change Project File of the thoughts that come up for you as a result of thinking about this question. Then decide what you are going to do about it – and take action.

Recommended Resources

In each edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach, I make a suggestion about a resource I have found helpful and which I would recommend to anyone who may be considering a career change. It may be a book, a website, an e-course – anything that might just help you along the way.

In each edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach, I make a suggestion about a resource I have found helpful and which I would recommend to anyone who may be considering a career change. It may be a book, a website, an e-course – anything that might just help you along the way.

This month I have chosen a book again and it is a very appropriate one for the beginning of the New Year!

Your Best Year Yet
Jinny Ditzler

This book is a fantastic tool to help you to sit down and plan your year ahead. It does not focus specifically on careers, but you can choose to make work issues the centre of your Best Year Yet plan.

Jinny gives you a structure and a process so that you don’t just fall into the trap of making the same old New Year’s resolutions yet again (lose weight, stop smoking, get fit, do something about my job) and then losing impetus before January is out. Instead, you come up with a much more carefully thought out plan, that homes in on what you decide is important for you right now.

The Best Year Yet process is built around 10 key questions:

  1. What did I accomplish?
  2. What were my biggest disappointments?
  3. What did I learn?
  4. How do I limit myself and how can I stop?
  5. What are my personal values?
  6. What roles do I play in my life?
  7. Which role is my major focus for the year ahead?
  8. What are my goals for each role?
  9. What are my top ten goals for the next year?
  10. How can I make sure I reach my top ten goals?

At each step, Jinny explains the reasons behind this particular question and gives you lots to think about.

At the end of the book, she has created a series of worksheets for you to fill in as you work through each step. She suggests that you do your Best Year Yet planning in one session. You need to block out an evening just for this process so that you can give it your full attention.

A whole evening, you say? Does that sound impossible?

What about making it your Christmas present to yourself. Just one evening that could make a significant impact on the way you live the year ahead. This could be your chance to really get to grips with the career change you have been promising yourself. Or will it be just another year of dreaming but no action?

Go on, get the book and just do it!

Your Subscription Information

Back to Back Issues Page