You know that if you want to make any kind of change then you need to be taking action. But the problem with being stuck is that it leaves you completely unclear of what action to take. To get you started, and into action taking mode, here are 3 great exercises that can do that will get you on the road to more clarity about what you want from a dream career. So even if you have no idea what action you should take to get unstuck then let doing these exercises be your first action steps, no more excuses! The only rule here is to approach each exercise with an open mind. To get the full benefit, don’t censor yourself and don’t make any assumptions.
Exercise 1. Your Career Happiness History Review
The first exercise you can do to get clarity is a career happiness history review. You know what a review is but what does it mean to review your career happiness history? And why so specific?
It’s a good idea to review your career history and get to grips with the steps you took, the career decisions you made, and why. The reason for this is that it will give you better self-awareness which creates a good foundation when it comes to making decisions about your next career move. But more importantly, when you conduct a career happiness history review you will be paying close attention to the times in your work history when you were happy. Because while you might be feeling down in the dumps now- there will be moments in the past when you were happy- however fleeting and you can learn a great deal from these.
- In reverse order look back over your CV, and go through each role you held.
- For each role, think back to how you felt. And specifically, what aspects of the role made you happy and what aspects you hated. Write it all down.
- When moving to the next role think about and write down the reasons you truly left ( Hint: This might not be what you say in interviews) and the reasons you took the next role.
- Go through your Cv until you reach the present day.
- Finally, review your notes, notice, and highlight any similarities, patterns, or anything that surprises you. Sometimes, only looking back can you see things more clearly. Because you have the benefit of distance from the situation. Maybe there’s a role which you desperately hated with a passion at the time, but now looking back, you realize that there was one aspect of the role you appreciated. However small.
Exercise 2: Personal SWOT Analysis
Next up, a personal SWOT. A SWOT analysis can be done for a whole organization, but can also be very useful when done on a personal level. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. That’s exactly what you’ll be analyzing about yourself and your situation in this exercise. The benefit of completing such an analysis is that not only does it raise your awareness about your strengths and weaknesses, but it also gives you an indicator about the types of things you’re best placed focusing on and can also reveal if there are any areas you need to develop to make the changes that you want successfully.
Complete each area of the SWOT using the prompts below as a guide:
- What areas do you feel most confident in?
- What do people see you as the go-to person for?
- What comes naturally to you?
- What can you do effortlessly?
- What have you had great feedback about?
- What do you enjoy doing most?
- What do you struggle with most?
- What types of activities do you tend to avoid and why?
- What would you deem to be your biggest weaknesses?
- Are there any trends happening in your industry where your strengths would be an asset?
- What skills or strengths do you have which are rare or in short supply?
- What do people/ colleagues ask you to help with the most?
- What projects are coming up within your company that needs the strengths you have?
- What technological advancements are happening in your industry that you could get ahead of?
- What feedback have you received about areas for improvement?
- What weaknesses could hold you back or stop your progress if you don’t improve them?
- What knowledge gaps do you have within your job or industry?
- What weaknesses could stop you from entering other industries you’re interested in?
- What trends or technological advancements are taking place that might put your skills or experience in less demand?
- Are there other colleagues that are more qualified and also want the same things you’re after in your company?
Exercise 3: 360° Feedback
The thirst exercise that will help you get clarity is getting 360° feedback.
One of the most valuable things that you can do in your quest for clarity is to seek outside input. As Einstein said:-
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
Most of us find it incredibly hard to see ourselves as we truly are. Especially where our strengths are concerned. But even when it comes to our weaknesses- since we tend to blow the negative right out of control and an area that might only require a little improvement, becomes a debilitating weakness.
Conducting a 360° Assessment will ensure that you gain a better, well-rounded perspective of your strengths and any areas that you could do with developing.
Select at least 5 people you trust and ask them to provide you with their feedback on what they think your strengths are and what areas they think are areas of weakness or areas that you need to develop in.
Make sure that you select people who you know will be kind, yet open, hones,t, and constructive.
While these exercises might be simple- taking the time to do them has many benefits.
Firstly, you’ll increase your self-awareness which is critical when it comes to figuring out what you want moving forwards. Secondly, you’ll have a better understanding of your strengths, which is important since happiness and success come when we do things that play to our strengths and thirdly, you’ll start to identify what areas you might need to build on or develop further for the sake of your future success. No matter what path you choose to take.