For many professionals, after years in a secure position, the thought of a career transition and conducting a job search can feel overwhelming. The unknown can be a scary proposition.
Yet, when broken down into pieces, as part of an action plan, it can be extremely empowering. You can look at the half full glass and the chance to reinvent yourself. You can develop a new and improved version of yourself, with the advantage of knowing what has and hasn’t worked in the past. Embrace the journey forward.
- Start with an MPS (Meaning, Pleasure, Skills) Analysis as described by Harvard professor Dr Tal Ben-Shahar in his book, “Happier.
- “Make a list of all things that add meaning to your life. This is the “why” in your life. It is your belief system of what’s important. Perhaps you value family, education, innovation or health.
- Make a list of “what” activities give you pleasure, either because they come naturally or because you enjoy the challenge. For example, perhaps you enjoy playing guitar, working out, surfing the internet, reading The Wall Street Journal or teaching your kids how to cook.
- Make a list of “how” you best accomplish your goals, i.e. your skill sets.
First, list your “technical skills”. These are skills gained over time in which you have special training and expertise.
Then, because we often cannot see ourselves objectively, ask others what they feel are your strongest “soft skills”. Do you listen attentively? Do you manage time efficiently? Are you empathetic? Are you a leader?
Find your calling! Find the common thread between the three lists above and create a picture in your mind of the perfect career that incorporates all three areas. Identify the common denominator that gives you the best chance to succeed on every level.
why you are who you are.
what you enjoy doing.
how you best do it.
This exercise will also help when branding yourself and selling what distinguishes you from others.
- Start networking. One site I personally recommend is Match. Join a group with people who have similar values or hobbies as you. Join a networking group of professionals in the industry that you target. Don’t get stuck behind a computer. You are in sales now, selling your vision, and business development is all about relationships. Spend your evenings researching on LinkedIn. Your days must be spent networking and meeting people with similar goals and ideas. Have a networking strategy.
- Create a business card. Since so many jobs today are on a 1099 basis, I recommend having two cards. One is to be given out to promote your service as an independent contractor. If you continue to work on a consulting basis, this card may be the first step in branding your new consulting firm. The other card should be given out to promote your value as an employee, such as when you meet with recruiters or HR professionals. On VistaPrint you can design and order both cards at very reasonable prices. You can even add your picture, so people can match a name to a face.
Even more importantly, when networking, ask everyone you meet for their card or contact information. You don’t ever want to be the one waiting for someone you want to speak with to contact you.
- Keep an activity log for two weeks. Mark each action item (I color co-ordinate them through Google calendar) as either something that was urgent or discretionary. Some items may have been planned and some may have come up unexpectedly. Separate personal action items from work related tasks. Your activity log will have 4 colors. Mine looks like this:
Red = urgent, personal related (a doctors exam)
Gold = discretionary, personal related (watching a movie)
Green = urgent, work related
Blue = discretionary, work related
(I also use purple for family related events)
Once you have an idea as to how you spend your time, you will be able to plan and manage your future time more efficiently and succeed at this new job. Note, that I consider sending out resumes and writing this blog to be leisure activities. Networking and “staying in traffic”, as a friend of mine who makes a fortune in sales says, is top urgent.
The great ones always keep an activity log, so they can look back and see if they are maximizing their time to address priorities and using the resource of time efficiently. Great time management skills will allow you do more. It’s that simple.
- Make your health, both mental and physical, a high priority. Make time in your schedule to work out at least 45 minutes, three times a week. If you are pressed for money, check into whether there is a Planet Fitness or similar facility nearby. For $10 a month, you can maintain tip top shape. That is a steal! For mental health, make sacred time to be with friends and family. Have a date night with your significant other. Walk in Nature. Meditate on staying in the present. Affirm to yourself regularly that you will have what you need for the future. A past failure will not happen again. Right now, you have everything you need to succeed.
- Form strategic alliances. Simply put, start helping others. Be of service to everyone you meet. Pay it forward. Say thank you when others send you a referral. When not at a networking event, call someone and meet them for coffee at Starbucks and ask, “how can I help you?” Being of service to others is the foundation of attracting success into your life.
- Learn. Spend time reading and listening. Knowledge is power. If you cannot afford an actual course, go to the library and get educated regarding your interests. The more you learn, the more you can have an intelligent conversation, the more you can help others and the closer you get to actualize your vision for yourself.
Abe Rotbart, a Business Coach and President of CFO Solutions of Chicago has experience working with individuals and entrepreneurs helping them convert their goals into achievements. To contact Abe click here.
Written by Abe Rotbart. © CFO Solutions of Chicago, Inc. All rights reserved.