Do you have a vision for your life and ideal career – and a plan to make it happen?
Many people hesitate to develop a powerful and inspiring vision for their work and their lives. Yet being forward-looking is one of the five top characteristics of the best leaders.
Before becoming an author and life coach, I worked in banking. Soon, I learned that if you don’t have a plan for your career, you are likely to get side-lined or pushed along a path that suits your company but not necessarily your own life plans. I knew that I didn’t want to raise children while working in the bank because they had very little sympathy for the difficulties of working mothers. I watched my exhausted and stressed colleague struggle to meet the demands of a full-time job while nursing her new baby. Also, I saw another friend hauling her breast pumping machine into work every day so that she could bottle the milk and give it to the nanny to later feed her baby. It didn’t look like a very enjoyable way to spend the first year of your child’s life. My ideal career included a lot more flexibility. Ultimately, I left the bank to become a full-time coach, speaker and author, not only enjoying a completely flexible schedule but also unlimited income potential. It all started by clearly defining my ideal career.
Here are 5 Simple Tips for Creating Your Ideal Career:
1. Imagine you are walking down the beach and find an old bottle and pick it up.
Out pops a genie who says, “You can have everything you write or sketch on this piece of paper. Money is no object but you must write it all down in 5 minutes.” Get out a blank piece of paper, set a time and start writing furiously! No need to be practical, just get it all down as fast as you can.
2. Sketch your ideal life.
What are the elements of your ideal life? You can sketch what you want with simple stick figures and a few scribbled notes for clarification. You can make a vision board out of magazine images or cut out words. Have fun with this and remember to think big. This is your ideal after all and it doesn’t have to look anything like your current life. An ideal career supports and fits into your ideal life so think about where you’d want to live. The mountains? The beach? Near family and friends? Think about who you’d want to spend time with and what you’d like to spend your time doing. My sister and her fiancé left their boring corporate jobs to travel around the country looking for the ideal place to live, settling in Durango, CO because they liked skiing and mountain biking and hiking.
3. Design your ideal career around your passions and core values.
There are numerous exercises in Coach Yourself to a New Career and the Career Change Course to help you figure out what your hidden motivating values are and how to identify your real passions. When you love what you do, your work feels like play, not drudgery. Once you’ve identified your natural abilities and hidden talents, you’ll have a clear vision for your next step.
4. Keep your day job.
There is no need to take unnecessary financial risks while you explore the best options.
5. Start with a tiny step in the right direction, closer to your ideal career and ideal life.
Small changes lead to big changes. You might take a course in the evenings to develop a new skill. I took all my life coaching classes in the evenings and weekends while still working full-time at the bank. This gave me a chance to develop my knowledge and skill and also enabled me to test the waters before giving up a good career. I started leading free life design workshops in my tiny NYC apartment for friends of friends.
The key is to start living and expressing those core values and talents as soon as possible. This also activates the laws of attraction. I was so excited about my coaching courses, I couldn’t stop talking about it and soon attracted publicity in Newsweek in the first big story about life coaching back in 1996, “ Need a Life? Get a Coach” by Kendall Hamilton, which led to a flurry of publicity and then a book deal for my first book, Coach Yourself to Success (McGraw-Hill, 2000). It all started out small. At that time no one had heard of life coaching so I also snagged the domain, LifeCoach.com. This is why it is so important to follow your heart and do what you love. Who knows, but you might just be starting the next big thing!
A word of caution, beware of getting trapped by a lifestyle. Never sacrifice your life for a lifestyle.
I had a client who didn’t think she could give up her fancy lifestyle, her $200 Chanel sunglasses and her $250 bottles of fine wine. But when she gave up her high paying job to pursue her passion for dogs, she realized that she was happy and much of her spending was a misguided attempt to be happier. Read more about Melissa Todd’s story and how she transitioned to living her ideal life and having the ideal career oriented around her passion for dogs here.