Dear Trie ~
I am usually excited about the work I am doing to find a new career, but sometimes I find myself losing focus and falling back into some old habits that tend to undermine my success. I start feeling stuck and as though I should just stay where I am even though I don’t like it. Do you have tips to help me stay on track? ~ Frankie J, Cold Spring NY
Dear Frankie ~
Frankie — Thanks for connecting and asking this question. Know that it’s natural to ebb and flow in terms of focus, energy and commitment while pursuing a new and somewhat uncertain path.
There are three interrelated activities I recommend, which have been incredibly helpful to a lot of people I work with — and to me, too. They help boost focus and serve to reenergize us when we need a little extra motivation. These exercises are part of the Step 1 career transformation work I do with clients and students to help them identify their top values, goals and personal mission and to set the foundation for their career success efforts.
1) Your Wheel Of Life
The first one involves getting clear on what is most important to you in the eight areas of what’s called your Wheel of Life. You’ll see slightly different variations of this chart, but here’s the one I prefer:
With the Wheel of Life, consider your ideal vision for each of the 8 sections and rate yourself from 1-10 in terms of how fulfilled and satisfied you are, with 10 being you’ve nailed it and 1 being, ugh, lots of attention needed here. Set goals for enhancing the ones that mean the most to you, and as you do, think about how each one impacts your legacy: How you would like the important people in your life to remember you and talk about you? Write out your thoughts on this as well.
Note that career-related matters are just 1/8 of the pie, and while work might take up more of your time and energy now than some other pieces, the idea here is that to live a full life with meaning and satisfaction (and to have a career that is purposeful and enjoyable), we need to have joy and fulfillment in as many parts of life as possible.
I find it so important to think of your career choices in this context because our career generally helps or hinders our pursuit and attainment of the goals we establish in the other 7 areas. We don’t work in a vacuum so why would we make decisions about it in one? If the goals in these 7 other areas matter to us, it behooves us to find work that supports our goals. This understanding can be a huge motivator.
Since work is a big part of our lives and can impact all the other parts, knowing what really matters most to us can affect the type of work we pursue. For example, if we identify that our loved ones are super significant to us, maybe we don’t want a career that has us traveling a good deal of the time or consistently working 10-hour days.
Or, we might put health and wellness high on our list. If that’s the case, a workplace that supports our fitness goals through a gym membership and has a healthy-choice-oriented company culture may be a wonderful fit.
2) Your Career Success Wheel
To help us know what matters most in the type of career and specific job we most want, we can create a wheel for that too. The one below is what I’ve created for my own career and work choices; you might identify some sections that are the same or different, depending on your personal priorities:
The value of this Wheel is that it helps you determine what matters most to you in a new career and position. To do that, list each of the 8 sections in order with the most important one first, then write a vivid description of your ideal vision of each. This analysis will help you both articulate and evaluate opportunities as you explore them; as you discuss them with your network; and as you actively pursue them.
3) Your Strategic Vision Board
The third interrelated activity is identifying images that reflect your ideal outcomes for both Wheels. You might find your own personal photos or find some online or in magazines that really speak to you and inspire you. Post these images somewhere you can see them daily. Think of this as your strategic vision board.
The idea is to keep your eye on the prize: See It, Believe It, Achieve It. With these images in front of you daily it’s proven to be much easier to keep your goals and dreams in focus and to keep your daily actions and habits actively contributing toward furthering the goals you most want to achieve. Both the power of visualization and the Law of Attraction kick in here as do the practical benefits of continually being reminded about what we claim is important.
For example, perhaps you have a goal of traveling to your favorite city more often; achieving your definition of success in a new line of work; starting a family; or, pulling from one of my own goals, of owning a beach cottage in your favorite vacation spot. It’s so easy to feel excited and determined about these possibilities while you’re feeling optimistic and thinking about these goals, or in my case, while I’m spending time in my beach town.
But those feelings can evaporate when we return to our regular routine and get pulled by daily obligations and deadlines. These goals can get tucked away until the next time we consider them, and by then we might feel frustrated or discouraged by the fact that we haven’t been actively pursuing them. That’s when our efforts and perseverance fade and we fall back into our own form of status quo.
Now, not everyone is visual and responds so positively to images before them. Not everyone will make the effort to consider how their legacy relates to the core eight aspects of life. Not everyone will prioritize what they are looking for in a new professional opportunity. Not everyone will take the time to find photos that reflect their most important goals.
But if you’re even a little curious if these approaches will work for you, I encourage you to give it a go. It’s a whole lot easier to get where you want to be when you can see precisely what the destination looks like and see it regularly. Then you’ll be ready and excited to craft a smart and strategic path to get you there.
Frankie, I hope this helps, and if you have any questions about the process, don’t hesitate to connect with me again.
P.S. If you would like my take on your career matter, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!