Notes from the online course – How to Be Your Own Life Coach – Lesson 8. – Work: Crafting Your Career

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Now that you understand the differences between jobs, careers, and vocations, as your own life coach you must now discern what your vocation is and whether or not it can be the same as your job and career.
Activity (The following activity is only for those who may not yet know what their vocation is.)

Get out your journal. Our lesson on Soul had you remembering your youth – what you wanted, what you were like. Review that information now, paying special attention to any words you use to describe that you wanted to do with your life and why.

Now, eliminate the desires of your youth that you genuinely feel were not a reflection of who you are as an individual rather than simply a job you thought was neat or interesting. For example, a ten year old boy might have wanted to be a professional football player because he loved the game and loved competition – two things that might still be true, even if he’s now an accountant. For him, that desire would stay on the list. For the accountant who wanted to be a professional football player when he was ten because it would have been really cool? That we can eliminate.

When you look at the jobs and characteristics still on your list, see if you find any commonalities. For example, imagine a woman who wanted to be a teacher at 10, a social worker at 15, and a civil rights attorney at 20; though she may be working in an art gallery, it is obvious to see that helping people is important to her. Now do this for you and your life.
If you are still struggling, one usually easy way to get on the right path is to imagine yourself in prison. Seriously. While in prison, it is possible to study virtually any subject. What would you study? Are you a doctor but really love art history? Maybe you’ve been working since 16 in construction but would love to learn how to bake.
Next, brainstorm all of the different careers that might embody those characteristics that are clearly important to you. Do not worry about being practical right now, simply brainstorm.
Review what you wrote last week about your job and your career. Then start considering each position on the list you brainstormed: what steps would you take to get from where you are to that career? What are the roadblocks? Are they really roadblocks or more like alternative routes? Much of the time, we assume that we have to start over to go on a different path, but most of the time, it is simply not the case. Certainly you may have to start further back than where you are in your current field, but maybe it is worth it. Retirement age is creeping up higher and higher; starting over at 40, for example, may be totally worth it for a career you’ll spend another 20 years in.

Now, which potential new future seems the best fit, i.e. which requires the least amount of time and expense for the biggest payout? This is where practicality comes in. If you want to be a college professor but do not have any college education and you are trying to feed a family of 6, your dream may not be practical right now. That doesn’t mean however that you cannot start on that path, just be realistic about when you’ll arrive at the end of it.

Also remember that for each characteristic or passion you have, there will usually be many possible choices. One of the most common dreams to have today is to work for yourself. And we certainly can all understand that; who among us hasn’t suffered through a terrible boss? Maybe you want to work for yourself running your own motorcycle shop, but you do not have any money saved to open up your own business. Is it more important to own your shop or is it more important to work for yourself and have time to work on your own bike(s)? Do you need to own the shop all yourself or would a partnership work? What kind of background and experience do you have?

Once you have decided what journey would be the best for you to take, break the whole trip down into bite-size SMART goals. Many of those goals will need to be revised when you finish the goal before it; if your first goal is bound to a year and your second to two years, after the first goal is met you’ll have a better idea if that second goal can be completed faster or if it needs more time. You may even find that some of your goals are not relevant, specific enough, or attainable as one big goal.

Now that you have chosen your path and made your goals, this is the time when you may need to share these plans with someone. If you are responsible (whether in full or in part) for someone else’s income or resources (such as a parent, spouse, or business partner), you will need to determine when and how to communicate your new plans to them. If your new goals will bring in sufficient money for the family but may make it tighter financially, highlight the positive benefits as well (more time home, more flexible schedule, bigger money long-term, and so on). If your spouse is hesitant or you anticipate problems, pitch it like a business plan. Do your homework beforehand so that they understand you know what you are getting into.

Also consider the impact you’ll have on those with or for whom you work. If you have a business partner and want to leave the business entirely, give them plenty of notice as well as options for closing the business, buying you out, etc. Alternatively, you do not need to tell your boss what you are doing too far in advance.

Lastly, develop a backup plan. Save your money. Have a second job for a while until you are sure your plan A will pan out. When you do give notice, ask for consideration for a future position if you decide to return.

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