Get clear on the types of work and activities that come most naturally to you and bring you the most joy.
- When's the last time you were in your zone? That place where time flies and you feel productive with what seems like little effort. Numerous studies have shown that people who play to their strengths on a regular basis are more productive and happy than those who don't. Who doesn't want to achieve great things and enjoy the process? This is especially true in our careers. Imagine a career that you actually enjoy and where you feel like the work you do is valuable. The first step to a career like this is focusing on your strengths and not your limitations.
On too many occasions people I'm coaching will start the dialogue with a laundry list of everything they're bad at. Instead I ask people to start by telling me about a time in their career when they felt most energized. Without even knowing it they begin to share their natural strengths. What are yours? To answer this question let's differentiate from other aspects of yourself, like your academic achievements or skills. Simply put, strengths are things that make you feel strong.
A great shortcut to discovering your strengths is to take a validated psychometric assessment. I recommend ones that are well tested and readily available, like Clifton StrengthsFinder. Or even one that's more personality based, like the Myers-Brigg assessment. If you're not using one of these assessments I urge you to ask yourself who am I when no one's looking? This helps you articulate your true self and not the self you may be trying to become in certain professional situations.
You can also ask people you trust what qualities do you most admire in me? Or what do I do better than most? Using the Career Map worksheet provided in the Exercise Files list your top four or five strengths in part two. You can always update or add to these at any time. Think about strengths related to interacting with people, like developing or coaching others, collaborating, negotiating, or even influencing. Or those related to completing tasks, like the speed at which you work, meeting deadlines, being detail oriented, or building repeatable processes.
Or those related to solving problems, like creativity, critical thinking, or strong logic. And lastly, those related to emotional intelligence, like keeping your cool in heated situations, reading the room, and listening to what's not being said. Once you've identified a handful of core strengths you can build a career vision and then goals that put you on a positive path. I'd like to share an example from a recent coaching session I had.
Lindsey, a 28-year-old sales professional, shared that she was starting to feel stuck in her current sales job. In fact, she was contemplating moving out of sales all together. She identified that she had tough quarterly goals, frequent travel, and had to manage a lot of client relationships. While working with Lindsey to identify her natural strengths we discovered that she got a lot of energy from getting to know her clients personally. She also told me that she had a competitive nature and got bored with repetitive tasks.
Lindsey confessed that she wasn't very detail oriented and got flustered when presenting the many technical details of the product she was selling. We then compared the core job elements of her sales job with the types of activities that she most enjoyed. What we discovered is that Lindsey actually thrived in most of her job responsibilities. Where she was most challenged was simply with the product she was selling. This differentiation helped Lindsey understand that switching career paths entirely wasn't the best move.
Instead, Lindsey decided to explore sales roles that focused on services instead of products. She also explored ways to get support on the more technical details of her current product. Identifying what energizes you will set the foundation for creating a powerful career vision, one that will set you on an authentic path.
- How the workplace has changed
- Creating a career vision
- Creating short- and long-term goals
- Mobilizing: Identifying resources, mentors, and your online brand