All of us encounter a stage -or stages- in our career whereby we ask ourselves: ‘Is this it? Really?’ When you doubt about that what you are daily doing. Where you are worried about your future prospects in the job, company or industry. Because ‘it doesn’t thrill me anymore’. Where you have concerns about the work-life balance. Where in fact –simply said- you aren’t happy anymore’.
No worries; you can get out of it. It’s simple and it’s basic. Indeed, many have been there before you and many will follow. During a career, everyone encounters (one or more times) a stage where he/she needs personal reflection on next steps. Successful managers do not only question the current status but also work on future options and take decisions to solve the issue.
Here is the plan, in 5 simple steps.
1. Write down the ‘current’
Take time for reflection and make a bullet list of current job issues and blockings. Don’t do this in the office; a Saturday in your private home office is perfect. Or have a walk in the park, let your mind wander over the past months, find a bench and note your list. Make it an all-inclusive list. You probably won’t need a life changing move for just one issue. Your exhaustive list can of course be anything and is very personal. I in fact hate to give you some examples -so don’t copy/paste- but here are some current trends that many coaches come across. ‘I have lost trust in the current leaders. I don’t feel engaged anymore. I want to get out of this corporate world and start my own business. I was promised a promotion but it doesn’t materialise. I can’t combine this pressure with my private life. I feel exhausted. I am sick of all the reporting requirements. My team doesn’t follow me anymore.’
As said, reflect deeply on it. Then put your list aside and forget it for the full next week; then revisit it (add/delete) next weekend. Again put it aside and forget it for the coming work-week.
2. The ‘why’
This step is the most difficult but it’s the foundation for your solution. Here you go back to your issues-list and for each of them you consider why it is so hindering; so frustrating. Why do these issues bring me emotional (and perhaps physical) discomfort? Why do these undermine my performance and happiness? Put the ‘why-s’ on paper.
No, this step is not suggesting you share all of this on Facebook. Now it’s time to find you a trusted adviser. It doesn’t matter how you label that person: buddy, mentor, coach, adviser,… . (I’ll further call him/her coach – just for easiness.) Most important is your trust in the individual to help you walk through your thought process. Ideally this person is an excellent listener and a professional to bring focus to you on you solving your issues. You have read that right; he/she is not going to resolve it –it’s you at the steering wheel of your future. The coach will guide you to your own decision; and where you want gives expert advice.
I suggest to find support outside the company; the strength of a trusted outsider is to bring a fresh –and objective- look at your situation. Now this can go very well alongside a formal career development path that might be offered by the company. It’s even an excellent add-on but it will focus on you –and not necessarily attempt to match your needs with the company needs. It’s about you and your future (and the impact it may have on your private life). By the way, more and more business leaders understand and support this approach. They understand that through some –call it- selfish reflection, you will gain more clarity. This will ultimately also be to the benefit of the company.
4. Triggers of happiness
In this step, you together with your coach will be looking at what really triggers you. What makes me hot (in a decent context)? What makes me go the extra mile? What am I really passionate about? What makes my dopamine levels rocket? Basic -but so important-, what makes me smile? Yes, here you’ll be talking to your emotional drivers. That’s not a soft thing; it’s difficult but crucial. Don’t forget: “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels” (Dr. Daniel Goleman)
Take time for this; make time for your feelings. If you do this just as a tick-in-the-box exercise, than please stop here. Your issues are not serious enough. But if you really want to bring change to the current situation, then dig deeply. A professional coach will help you here to bring structure in this step.
5. Into solution and decision mode
In this final step, you’ll go into decision mode. This can be a minor thing or a life-changing decision; whatever brings you most satisfaction and triggers you. It should bring you regained trust in the ‘current’ or trust to go on a complete new journey; or anything in between. Anyway, it’ll bring clarity and trust.
Here your coach -if you want- can challenge your thoughts. Why would this bring a solution? Does it really? How does it? What are the pitfalls? This all helps you to double check your intentions so that you’ll feel that you are walking the right way. To ensure the envisaged changes will bring you where you want to be. To get you closer to the fulfilment of your personal ambitions.
Only 5 structured steps; it’s all simple and basic, isn’t it? The major value sits in the sharing that forces you to focus on your deeply rooted performance and happiness drivers. This shared focus will guide you; towards your solutions.