One of the biggest realms of career assessment is skills: what are you good at?
The thing is, that’s a huge question. And it’s tough to find that sweet spot between self-deprecation and arrogance.
Instead of agonizing about where you fall on the ego spectrum, look to your data points, particularly your most recent ones (we’ll dig into your past later — right now, it’s about what’s current in your life).
Who are the 3 people you helped most recently? What did you do for them?
The scope of your response can be all over the map.
opening the door for the person at the post office when they were carrying a bunch of packages
driving 400 miles in two days to get someone to a disability hearing
listening with your heart.
You can include things you did at work, at home, at play – setting doesn’t matter here. It’s what you did that’s paramount.
And there’s another layer to this question. What’s your view of what you did?
what’s the value that you provided?
how is it part of a pattern for you?
how does it fit into the big picture of who are and your expression of that in the world?
Walk me through your ideal day. Seriously, from the time you get up (what time? where are you? who are you with?) to the details of how you spend your time and with whom. All the way until the moment you rest your head on the pillow.
When I’m working with clients on developing a career direction, they’re often surprised at how much we talk about nonwork topics.
Here’s the thing: we can’t put work in a box and isolate it from the rest of our lives. That’s actually why I love working with people in the career realm – it’s a doorway to the essence of who people are at their core.
Give yourself permission to wander in all parts of your life as we go through this process of reflecting on your next career chapter. Bring your whole self to this process.
Keep sending me your responses! I love reading them.
Who cares if you show up for these questions? What’s the whole point?
Years ago, probably on NPR (it wasn’t on Krista Tippett’s show, but it would certainly fit there — wish I could remember the exact source because it’s nice to give accurate attribution), I heard an interview with an activist nun. I’m paraphrasing here, but here’s the essence of what she said:
Everyone has an immediate answer to the question of what we’d do if we won the lottery. We’ve all dreamed about it. But very few of us have a ready answer for how we’ll spend our most precious resource, one that we already have: our time.
Your time, how you spend your days, your energy, how you show up in the world — that’s the whole point of these 100 days.
Whether you feel like you’re staring at a blank canvas or you already have some ideas shaping up, perhaps like images through a fog, these questions will move you towards intention about how you spend your time, particularly your work time and your income-generating time.
Here’s a question before we get to the 100 questions
Before we dive into the questions, let’s set the framework for what you want to get out of these next 100 days of questions and reflection. You’re communicating with your highest self, and the purpose that you set for this process will guide you both consciously and unconsciously to create what you most want from it.
What do you want, from the deepest part of yourself, to emerge from these 100 days of reflection?
Allow yourself to respond with the timing and process that works best for you. And get to know your own process of responding to these questions:
do you have an immediate visceral response?
do you want to sit with the question in meditation?
will you carry them through your day and allow inspiration to visit you?
are you an extrovert with a craving to talk to people and hear yourself throw out ideas?
do you want to generate 10 possible answers, knowing that you’ll get closer and closer to your truth the more you write?
Honor yourself, and if you don’t know the best way to access your inner wisdom, experiment.
What to do if you draw a blank
As you engage with this framework question and also the questions that follow on subsequent days, you may notice that you seize up sometimes.
If you’re worried that you won’t produce a response that feels true or if you’re struggling to come up with ANY response, know that you’re not alone. This part of yourself is absolutely welcome in this space.
Ask yourself how you want to engage with the part of yourself that feels stuck. What do you usually do to tune into your inner voice? Use techniques that you already know that work for you. And please share in the comments below any tips you have for people when they find themselves stuck.
Here are some ideas from me about how to approach paralysis with this framework question and any questions that follow:
Pick a handful of archetypes (the orphan, the hero, the caregiver, the explorer, the rebel, the creator, the lover, the jester, the sage, the magician, the ruler) and imagine how each one of them would respond. Write from the voice of these archetypes and see which ones resonate for you.
Start a stream-of-consciousness writing. Commit to writing X amount (100 words, 500 words, whatever you think will get you to where you want to be), and just let your fingers or your pen fly. Julia Cameron, who wrote The Artist’s Way, describes a journaling technique called Morning Pages that captures this approach well.
Talk to people about the question. What are their responses? What do you notice rising up in you as you hear other people answer the question? Envy? Judgment? Resonance? Just notice. Plus, try talking to several different people and answering the question in wildly different ways. What do you notice in yourself as you’re talking? What do you want others’ response to be? Look for playful engagement and see what arises.
And now, for today’s question!
Here’s where we start with our questions:
How did you end up here in your current work situation? Start at the beginning.
The first place I go when I begin to answer this question is to the role of victim because I see my environment (the global economy), the people around me (raising children and the resulting logistics, for example), and the place where I live (rumor has it that Fort Collins has the best educated hotel maids in the country because people will do anything to live here) as the defining variables in how I got to where I am. And it’s true that the question is phrased a bit passively and that we’re affected by external factors.
And my invitation to you is to answer the question from the perspective of the creator of your life rather than the victim. What are the goals you went after? Where did you make strategic decisions?
It may be helpful to write 2 responses: one from a “life is imposed on me” perspective and another from “I’m driving my own bus” perspective. Play with how you respond and see what emerges.
I want to hear from you!
Really, no kidding, I want to hear your answer to these beginning questions. Partly because I have this “is anyone listening?” gremlin. And also because I want to compile responses to include in a book with these questions. Plus, I sincerely want to know what you have to say. Write to me: careerdesignandcoaching at gmail dot com.
PS-Most of the notes you’ll get on the other 99 days are MUCH shorter. Lots to say in the kickoff here.
107 days are left in 2014. Imagine what it would be like to land on New Year’s Day 2015 with clarity about your next career steps.
Announcing 100 Days to Career Clarity
Starting September 23, I’ll send out one question each day to people on my mailing list (sign up box is below). You can also view the daily questions on Facebook (Like my page to see the daily questions in your activity feed) and Twitter.
And it’s Free!
“Free!?” People ask me. “Seriously?”
“Yes, yes.” I say. And I have an ulterior motive. There’s always a catch, isn’t there? I want to use the content to write a book, so I’m asking for people to send me their responses, which will give the book more depth. And it’s also fine for you to receive the questions and be private about your responses. Just send me your responses if you want to contribute. Plus, I’m offering a free career coaching session to people who write to me (see details below).
Bonus Question for Developing Your Career Plan
Here’s a taste of the questions that’ll come your way:
If you hit the fast forward button on your life and zoomed ahead 10 years where you’re wildly successful, what are the signs that we could observe about your success? How would your 10-years-older self explain your success to someone else?
Answering the Questions
So, what are you supposed to do with these questions?
The short answer is, answer them.
Talk to people you see every day. Ask them their answers. Tell them yours. Stir up conversation.
Capture your responses. Good old fashioned paper and pen works great, and journaling apps (DayOne, for example) are good choices, too.
Send me your answers. First because I want to know what you’ve got to say. And second, if you choose this option, I’ll gift you with a free 60-minute session to distill the responses. Send me at least 3 sentences for each question and respond to at least 90 of the 100 questions. Your responses can arrive up to a week after the questions are published, so you can take your time to email me. 2 caveats for this deal: Know that I may use what you write (anonymously, of course!) for a book I’m planning to write at the end of this grand project. And I won’t be writing you back. I’ll read everything and I’ll be listening, and we won’t connect personally until January when we schedule your appointment.
Even though there are many ways you can respond to the questions (comments here on this blog, Facebook comments, Twitter….so many options!), the only place I’ll collect your responses is via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Make sure you’re on my email list to receive the questions every day (sign up box below).
Did you know that there are 100 days between September 23 and New Year’s Day? Me neither. Not until I looked it up for this project.
Wherever you are in your career, you’ve likely had some glimmers about what’s next for you. Maybe it’s as simple as, “Not this anymore!” It doesn’t matter how vague or sharp your vision is for what’s next for you. Regardless of your starting point, you’re going to have definition and clarity and insight come the first moment of 2015.
Stick with me as we tackle one question each day between September 23 and January 1. Sign up in the box below to receive the question to your inbox. Or watch my Twitter feed, LinkedIn posts, and Facebook page.
Open your email everyday or choose your social media channel to tune into yourself and your career, and start 2015 with career clarity.