It’s official. I resigned from my job yesterday to be a full-time Career Coach here at Classy Career Girl.
It’s surreal that I now get to do what I love every day of the week. This is what I have been dreaming about since I first realized that I loved blogging and coaching. It took me four years to make this final transition to a career I love, and I learned a lot. I also made a lot of mistakes.
Through the process, I put together a “7-Step Get Your Career Unstuck” system that is based on my experiences getting my own career unstuck. Now you have a system to do it much faster than I did. I have had the honor to have coached hundreds of professional women to also get their careers unstuck using this system.
Now my mission is to help thousands of more women.
One of the things I am most looking forward to is finally making a living being myself. For so long I have felt like I was trying to be someone else and hiding who I was. I was doing this because of the fear that someone was going to discover who I really was and what I truly was passionate about.
The Back Story: I was stuck in a job that I was doing great at, but it just didn’t fit me. I didn’t love it even though I continued to get promotions and raises. I stayed too long and eventually it got stressful. I was bringing home work on nights and weekends. It affected my personal life because I was unhappy and dreading Monday throughout the weekends.
I knew I needed to make a major career change, but I was overwhelmed just thinking about it. I had no idea what my dream job was. I was also an introvert, so I dreaded networking even though I knew that was how I was going to reach my dreams and goals. I knew my job didn’t fit me but I couldn’t figure out what would be a better job to go into. I applied to random jobs because really anything would be better than where I was at. That didn’t work, though.
I always thought I was going to have this purposeful life and make an impact..but sitting at my computer with my excel spreadsheet doing the same thing every day just really wasn’t doing it for me. And of course, I had the most common excuse ever for not making a career change…I didn’t have the time.
I was so busy trying to be great in a job I hated, I had no time to try to find a job I was going to love.
The Steps I Took to Find Work I Love
Step #1: Understanding Myself Better
After submitting resume after resume, I realized something wasn’t working. I took a break from submitting resumes to any old job that “might” fit to really understand myself better first. I dove into personality tests and took the DISC, Strengthsfinder, Myers-Briggs, and Career Leader.
Each of these helped me narrow down the type of careers that would be the right fit for my personality. I also thought about what I enjoyed doing and didn’t enjoy doing in my previous jobs. I knew I loved interacting with people, influencing, teaching and coaching and training in my previous jobs. Those were the things that got me super excited and I could work on them in my spare time without even getting paid. I also started to realize that I loved writing and reading about career development which is what I was doing on this blog (which started on a whim just as a personal blog).
What I did not enjoy in my job was financial management, data crunching, and of course anything to do with Excel (and that was like my entire job!) Even though I was great at these things, I truly hated them.
Step #2: Nail My Mission
I knew I had a big purpose in life and in my career but I didn’t know what that was. This made it hard to reach my full potential. I knew I needed to help people in my job and that was really important to me.
Fortunately, my job did have a bigger mission because I was working for the military. I did love the fact that I was helping my military clients save money. I was also helping to make ships float and satellites fly, which gave me a purpose in my job. But, I knew I personally had an even bigger mission for myself.
At this stage, I asked myself some hard questions. Why was I here on this earth? Was I put here on this Earth for some special purpose to do some unique work that only I could accomplish? I knew the answer was yes. I realized that I got so excited and “came alive” when answering reader’s questions on this blog and when speaking to groups about career development topics. I could do it for hours and hours and never get bored with it. This was the lightbulb moment where I realized that somehow…someway…I needed to figure out how to do my blog and be a Career Coach as my full-time job.
This was my mission I first wrote down a few years ago:
My mission is to encourage, support and motivate everyone I interact with through my work and life. I will strive to simplify my life and to reach out and connect with friends, family and people I have yet to meet. I will focus on helping others, eat healthier, do more yoga and focus on the things in my life that make me happy.
Step 3: Self-Reflect By Determining My Motivations, Skills, Interests, Ideal Workday, and Ideal Work Environment
By diving deeper into self-reflection and understanding myself better, I determined that my interests were influencing others, coaching, and mentoring. I could think back to my childhood and see myself counseling and coaching my girlfriends on dating, working out, and getting into college.
I also wanted to influence in kindergarten when I started a Save the Earth club with one of my friends. We told our parents to shorten their showers; I like to think we saved the world.
I realized what motivated me in my job was happiness, balance, autonomy, and flexibility. I realized I valued challenge and accomplishment over security and safety, making starting a business match my motivations. And of course, as I started to think about starting a family, having time for my family was something I valued as well. Some of my favorite skills were organizing and leading projects and strategies. I loved putting the goal and big picture together and breaking it down to see what needed to be accomplished when.
Another positive sign that entrepreneurship was calling my name. (Note: I NEVER thought I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was truly through this process that I discovered that it was the right fit for me).
I also let myself imagine what I would want my ideal workday to look like. This is something that we often don’t let ourselves do. We don’t think it’s possible to have a workday that we LIKE! So I imagined what my ideal workday looked like and made a goal to try my best to make it look like that in real life. I also realized that I was pretty good working by myself and I didn’t need to have an entire team around me. I realized that my ideal workspace is sitting right on the couch with the computer on my lap (and now a baby in a wrap on my chest-exactly how I am sitting right now:)
Step #4: Targeted Job Search Plan
Now that I spent months looking within to understand myself better, it was time to start coming up with a job search plan. I knew so much more about myself so I starting thinking about what possible careers I would LOVE. This process started by me making a long list of potential career opportunities and then slowly narrowing them down.
The BEST way I found to narrow down these possible career targets is by talking with other people. Over an entire year (in 2011) I did a networking challenge where every month I spoke with four people I knew and four people I didn’t know. This totally opened up career opportunities and helped me focus in on what career was the best for me. At the beginning of my networking challenge my career targets were other consulting firms and strategy consulting, etc.
By the middle of the networking challenge, I was speaking with other entrepreneurs and bloggers. And at the end of the networking challenge, I had reached out and done informational interviews with as many career coaches as I possibly could. I got as much advice as I could and at the end of the 2011 I was CRYSTAL CLEAR on my future direction and had a few targets in mind…
This made it so much easier to start applying for jobs because I knew that I should only apply to jobs that fit me best and that I was interested in. All other jobs that I was applying for I started deleting and focused on getting what I truly wanted.
It really helped to have these focused career targets so I didn’t get distracted. It was at this stage that I also took an entrepreneur assessment and scored very high for being the right “fit” to be an entrepreneur. Who knew! So I added that to the possibilities list as well.
Step 5: Uncover Potential Issues
Of course, before I got any further with these career targets, I needed to see if there were going to be any issues with any of these possible career targets. I looked at each of the industries and interviewed people in all of these career targets. I didn’t find any issues, but I always recommend this step before moving on!
Step #6: Create an Ideal Career Outline
This one thing really helped me focus during online job searching, resume updating, interviewing and networking. I created a one-page document that had all of the things that I discovered about myself (steps 1-4) and my ideal career targets (step 5). I hung this ideal career outline up in front of my computer which helped me focus only on the job opportunities I was looking for.
When something else came up or a recruiter contacted me for a different job, I would just look at my outline real quick and check if it the potential job would be the right match for my ideal career. What I definitely did not want was to get stuck in another job that I hated. I was very careful to only apply to jobs that matched my ideal career outline.
This step is also about building your personal brand strategy online and offline so I made sure I developed a consistent brand for what I wanted to be known for. I built a blog that demonstrated the type of career I wanted and I also updated all of my social media accounts to help me “sell” my brand and what I was looking for. I developed a rocking elevator pitch that caught people’s attention and matched my online brand as well.
Step #7: Kick It Into High Gear With a Networking Action Plan
I had been guilty of going to any old networking event that “sounded” interesting. I was also guilty of only attending events where my friends were going so I would know someone. This type of networking was not effective at all and wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I made a plan to only network where I would meet the people that I needed to meet in order to get into my career targets.
I started to focus on only building relationships in the areas of my career targets. My networking action plan started by me asking myself where my I was currently over-invested and where I was underinvested in my contacts.
For instance, if I wanted to be a Career Coach, how many Career Coaches were currently in my network? There were very few so I made an action plan to start meeting more of these people. I also made a commitment to myself with how many networking events I would attend each month, informational interviews I would go on each month and outgoing emails I would send to people each day. I also found someone to keep me accountable and made sure I was on track and keeping my networking action plan.
The Results: Throughout the last four years of working this process, I have received job opportunities that have come my way instead of me searching for them. My network has grown consistently every month. In Aug-12 I went part-time at the job I dreaded so I could devote more time to this blog and pursue other career opportunities. I got a job as a Professor of Career Development that I never would have been able to do if I hadn’t gone part-time.
And, finally, the end of my Get Unstuck journey has finally come because I resigned my part-time job yesterday. I am officially now a full-time entrepreneur doing what I love every day.
So what’s next?
Wow, a lot of work went into getting myself unstuck. I can say that my system worked and every minute was worth it to finally be where today. Right now I get to do what I love which is helping other women get their careers unstuck just like I did. I want to help you find your dream career just like I did.
I know you are busy and tired but you know something really needs to change soon because you aren’t in a role that fits you and you are not living a life you want. I know….because I have been there too. And I believe with all my heart that the situation of my life circumstances has led me here to lead you through your next open door — your next career move.
I am opening a door for you and I invite you to take a leap just like I did. I believe in you and I know you are right on the verge of something big. You know it too. Trust your gut and make change happen. You dream career and life is waiting, and I am going to help you get there.
This is only the beginning of what I want to share with you. This month I am doing a special series on how to find a career you love so you are in the right place if you are ready to get your career unstuck. Before I go, make sure you download my free 90-Day Planning Guide so you can start planning your move into your dream job. Click here to download the free planner.
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