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Preparing for the Next Step in Your Career: How to stay focused while managing Nay-Sayers

8 Strategies for job seekers without an obvious career path

From my experience speaking with and coaching thousands of professionals across various industries and geographic locations, I have found a few common roadblocks that get in the way of discovering one’s unique and personal career path:

  • People go for what they can get and not what they want.
  • People go for what’s possible, and not what would be UNBELIEVABLE.
  • People go for what OTHERS believe is reasonable and miss out on their greater potential to step forward in the direction of a riskier dream that requires self-belief and advocating for your own dream.

Sometimes finding your next career step can be challenging or overwhelming. When you don’t picture yourself doing your boss’ job, when you have outgrown your current position, or when there is no clear career roadmap for what someone of your caliber, vision, background and personality should pursue, trusting yourself to make the right decision can feel tricky. It can trigger questions around your self-worth. It may cause uncertainty and you may wonder whether that right role or opportunity really exists! Especially when you’ve reached out to mentors, colleagues, friends and peers who either point you into directions that all sound enticing or point you in the completely wrong direction. This can leave you feeling more distracted and scattered than when you started. This experience is completely normal.

You search online and you don’t match up to the qualifications that your dream role is asking for. You think you have a long road ahead of you before you can reach your goal. Or you talk to people and you find that nothing is clicking, and you feel even more uncertain than when you started.

Or perhaps your greater career endeavor is so huge and magnificent that it’s unclear how to get there causing you to feel frustrated because of the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.        

What happens next? We go through ups and downs. Some days we feel like we got this and that we’re seeing progress, while on other days we lose that momentum and take steps backward. We undercut ourselves, our dreams, and our visions when others do not see what we see. When there is not a clear path for the next step to take, it is easy to panic. When others don’t see how our dreams can happen, it’s easy to think we’re crazy or it won’t happen. The truth is, it will happen if you want it to. Sometimes your creativity, innovation, vision or talents lie beyond what others can see. Here are strategies to help you build the next steps from where you are now to where you want to go:

 1. Create your vision — through personal research or through a professional coach (someone qualified to provide guidance and non-bias support). Get crystal clear on the qualities that you’d like in your 3-5 year vision, who you are working with, your strengths, qualities you’d like to enhance in your role (interpersonal, technical, etc), and the impact you’d like to make.

2. Believe in yourself and your vision – practice advocating for yourself by believing in you (your greatest product). It’s easy to advocate the product or service you are selling, but the product with the greatest value is yourself. Your potential is constantly growing and shaping itself with new ideas, experiences and visions. It’s important that you see your own potential as your greatest investment. Your next role will likely not be your last. You are the only common denominator through every career change or transition, so know that you are not at your end. Take the pressure off of “getting it right.” If you are experiencing enormous pressure, know that that next move will be right as long as you believe in your own potential and vision first. The rest will follow as a result of you believing in your own story.

3. Know your differencehow you stand out. It can be the way you think and operate, your background, your perspective, your exposure to different environments and experiences, your technical and soft skills, your people management experience, your ability to bring results into fruition for a particular business and industry or your connections and contacts. Start thinking about marketing yourself as you would market a brand or product. What makes you unique? If you find it difficult to complete this section, know that simply having your unique vision and desire to make a difference is worthy and unique. Nobody else can go after your particular goal at this particular time. Your story can become an asset to many who can use your view or vision. 

4. Build a foundation- gain experience relating to your next role– build on your repertoire. This may take months or years, but it will help make this transition feel natural and give you opportunities to get involved with project or teams relating to what you want to learn more about. You may start by identifying 1-3 different groups, organizations, teams or “hot spots” where you can gain valuable experience and knowledge that will directly benefit your next step.

5. Build a pitchto better explain what you do and what you’re looking for – By doing so, you mitigate the emotions, stuttering, awkward pauses and self-doubt around wondering what people may think of you or the uncertainty of not knowing what you want next. This is a 30 second to 1 minute pitch that you can easily and effortlessly share with others when asked about your career. It is also an opportunity to share what you’re looking for in your next steps and to increase your reach for ideal opportunities. It is to let people know that you are looking for something new and you have a vision.

6. Share your vision with others – in an authentic, intentional and natural way. Share with others what you’re looking for and your recent successes. Craft your story. Intentionally choose words that your audience will understand and enables them to see your potential within that next opportunity. People tend to offer opportunities when they can envision you doing the job. Paint a picture by using words to describe how you’re fulfilling a particular vision or project that relates to where you want to go.

7. Give yourself time– Seeing results can take weeks or months. It’s easy to give into the notion that it won’t happen or that everyone has it together more than you do. Have you felt this way before? Most of us have at some point in our lives! This belief is a fallacy. Manage your mind and allow your energy and thoughts to support your long-term goal. If you wanted the easy way out you could have chosen the “reasonable” or “logical” step, but instead you’re making room for your bigger vision which requires a more grounded sense of self that is not indulged in lack and limitation. Embrace your truth, potential, discipline and above all, your dream.

8. Always revisit your vision – so that you keep the bigger picture in mind and see opportunities beyond the one or two roles ahead. It’s easy to find that next “role” and to get mentally fixated on it causing you to rule out all other possibilities. Sometimes there are roles or opportunities between where you are and where you will be that can support your growth and provide opportunities that you’d otherwise miss.

If you need support on any of the steps above for crafting your next career vision, seeking opportunities, strategies on networking, how to position yourself, or general support through your next career transition, book time with me for a free consultation on how we can take your career to the next level. Or visit shianchuan.com for more resources.

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