Whilst it may sound obvious to some, knowing who you are,where your strengths lie, what you enjoy doing each day, the environments and people that bring out the best in you, and the types of companies that can support you to reach your goals, are among the most empowering ways to find happiness and fulfillment in your career.
Knowing where to start is one of the most common challenges but a particularly successful strategy that we have found works through years of trial and error has been to conduct what we call the Clear Blueprint. This is a simple exercise to complete and should build clarity about what’s really important to you, and will form as a reference point to use when deciding whether a career choice you are about to make will bring out the best in you.
As we have mentioned, you spend 1/3 of your life at work, it is critical that you take the time and effort to get this right.
How to Map Out Your History
The Blueprint process should only take a few hours to complete and has the power to set you on the right path and change your life forever. The first step is to sit down with a notepad and your CV, ensuring it includes all of the work experience you have ever had, as far back as any internships or work experience you may have held in your school/uni years.
Taking one position at a time, start to write about the things you enjoyed in the role: the tasks, projects, people, environment,anything that you can think of. Then, on the flip side, the things you may not have enjoyed so much, the experiences you remember, whether personal or professional, that stick in your head from the time. Some of it may seem irrelevant, but if it is planted in your memory there is a reason. The secret here is go for your life!
As you go through this for each role, you should find yourself writing pages upon pages of information and memories, which you many find quite enjoyable - and it is often surprising by the things you recall and the experiences (both positive and negative) that have, for some reason,remained etched deep in your memory for all these years.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What did you like or dislike about each job? What kind of projects did you work on? What did you learn and achieve from the roles?
- How were the people you worked with each day?Who did you look up to? What leadership qualities did they display? Who did you avoid? What advice did you receive that remains with you to this day (both that you agree and disagree with)?
- What was the environment/culture like? Did the company’s values resonate with you? Which ones did you find engaging and energising? Was it a social company? Diverse?
- Did the company invest in systems and processes,training, and development?
- How far did you need to commute? Was it an arduous task or did you enjoy this as ‘you’ time?
- How were you rewarded, both financially and non-financially?
- Did it lead you down the path you expected? Try to recall your thought process in deciding to take the role - did it evolve as expected? What do you wish you had considered beforehand with the value of hindsight?
The Power of Reflection
The end goal is knowing and owning your values, such as achievement, independence, recognition, and support. If you are in the process of exploring career options, taking some time to reflect on the following questions might just transform your process and change what you decide to do.
- What has been your proudest moment professionally?
- What have you regretted doing during your career?
- What has led you to pursue the industry you are currently working in or would like to work in?
- Who is a mentor to you, and what is one example of when this person transformed or shaped you professionally?
The Final Step of the Clear Blueprint
The next part is the simplest, but the most rewarding and often enlightening part. Grab a highlighter and start working through each of the pages, marking up anything that you feel is particularly important, that conjures up the most emotion, is repeated on several occasions or just simply resonates strongly with you.
What you may find is that many of the things that were important to you early in your career remain important to this day. Whilst your values may evolve over time, there is often a core that guides you, and it’sthis driving force we are seeking to identify here. The same goes for the things that you enjoyed or were energised by the most, and on the flip side the areas that demotivated, de-energised or frustrated you.
The objective here is to end up with a one or maximum two-page summary that will provide you with a great reference point to work from. You should have a shortlist of areas that you enjoy in your roles, the areas you would like to avoid, the values that yourself with, and the practical components, such as salary, location and flexibility all covered, to ensure you are setting yourself up with the greatest chance of success in this critical and life-changing decision.
Your Clear Blueprint should be a working document that you review on an annual basis, used to critically assess any opportunities you consider moving forward, both internally and externally, and provide the basis for any questions you should be asking when meeting any individuals or companies throughout any career based discussions.
Reflecting on and identifying your values, goals and dreams and subsequently placing them at the centre of your career exploration process will help you to make more meaningful connections between your skills and career interests. The activities described above are designed to help you gain clarity on your distinct professional values. We hope the revelations will help you discover what you stand for as a professional and guide you in making sense of how your many professional pursuits are integrated, to prioritise your work and make decisions about what professional opportunities you want to pursue.
The next step in your journey is to begin formulating a target list of companies that may align with your goals and requirements. This important process is what we call the A, B, C list. Once this is complete, you can use networking to find a job.
If you still find it somewhat challenging to identify your energising and de-energising strengths, your core values and a greater understanding of your personality type, do not worry, there are a number of ways in which we can assist you through this with the assistance of coaching, questionnaires and assessments.
For more information, book a consultation to discuss your current ambitions and how we can assist you on your exciting career journey.