In this final part of the Wyse Women series Leigh discusses the steps you need to take once you have made the decision to make a change. If you missed the first parts of this series then catch up here.
Actions to take when you’ve made the decision to take the plunge
Set a tonne of time and energy aside for research
A new path won’t fall in your lap. Consider if you want to follow a traditional career model or create a new one that suits you. Careers can be shaped in many directions. If you want to be a doctor, there are set of coordinates you must follow, if you want to start an online business there are many routes to take. Learn how to mind map, chunk the tasks down into smaller bite-size weeknight and weekend to-do’s, and build yourself a timeline. Energy and excitement will be generated through the rabbit holes you pursue. Considered choices build confidence that you’re on the right path.
Write up your personal biography
Capture your career experience, list out your skills, competencies and expertise, notice things you like doing, love doing, resist doing, and are good at (they’re not always the same!). Identify what is useful from your background – skills that can translate across or development areas.
Write up (visualise) your ideal day at work
Include every possible detail, how you wake up in the morning, commute, arrive at work/ home office, the type of people you work with, the type of Clients you attract, the responsibilities you have, the functions of the business you need others to take care of, how you feel at the end of a rewarding day (what happened, what did you do, what goals did you make, what hurdles did you overcome, how did you handle a tricky situation, who where you in contact with). Dream a little and don’t rip yourself off – you must develop the feelings, beliefs, language and energy for what you want to create, to build momentum and take inspired action.
Understand if you’re in the start-up, scale up, business or practice world
It’s a minefield out there – when you say you’re starting a business, it is broad. There are different ways to set up, tax benefits and advice to take. I wish I knew I was running a coaching practice from the start, as I naively took business and start-up advice for far too long.
Put yourself in customer shoes
Which organisations and industries are you attracted to? Look at the brands you use, advocate for, purchase from, have a resonance with. Is there a chance you could associate more deeply with them – to consult with, work for, or volunteer at? It’s one of the first steps toward earning money from what you love.
Map out your connections
Review your career history and select the people you can call on for some trusted and confidential advice. Select 2-3 people you can shout lunch and get their perspective on your strengths, weaknesses and where they could see you channelling the next move. Select 10-20 people you know will help with written and verbal referrals or testimonials. Select people who can help with introductions once you know a clear direction, they may be working in a business you admire – ask them what it is like from an insider’s point of view. One key point to note: just because it’s a priority for you, it isn’t for them, you need to be patient when asking for these favours from people or accept that they may not be comfortable with providing it.
Once clearly mapped out… the plunge in motion…
Focus on Culture…
It astounds me how many people don’t interrogate culture in interviews or setting up their new venture. We get seduced by a pay packet, the brand on the door, or the role deliverables and forget to look at the environment we’ll be working in. Focus up to 50% of your questions of a prospective employer on culture – ask the tricky questions. If you’re setting up with Partners, ask them about the hardest feedback they have ever had to remedy, biggest career mistake they’ve made, communication style, what motivates them/ doesn’t, how they deal with conflict. In a start-up the culture created is critical to success.
Ensure you will be learning…
Never take a role unless you know you can learn from your direct boss or the people around you. I take the belief ‘invest in your own development – don’t just expect the company to’. Be clear on what you want to learn, blind spots and shortcomings and how to self-instigate getting the growth needed. If you’re looking to work for yourself learning will be inevitable, I suggest you formalise having a mentor or coach to provide objective guidance and accountability.
If you make the decision, make it whole-heartedly. It’s going to be a rollercoaster and your commitment and resilience will be tested. Stick to the course and back yourself, even if it means a whole lot of talking to yourself and reassurance techniques. I am not preaching the ‘power of positive thought’, rather, keeping a real, open and honest dialogue with yourself but keeping your inner critic in check too.
Manage your own wellbeing
To sustain momentum recognise what your boosts and drains are, and know what fills your energy tank. You don’t have to work 24 hours a day to be successful, but you do need to take care of yourself as a priority.
Wyse Women is an organisation that promotes greater flexibility and gender diversity in the media, marketing and communications industry by connecting professional women with flexible projects. To find out how Wyse Women can help your business or support your career please visit www.wysewomen.com.au
Leigh runs her coaching and consulting practice be. (from Melbourne). Her sweet spot is calibrating people, teams and cultures for high performance that lasts. Contact her here for more info on how you or your organisation can ‘be the change you wish to see’.