If you’re fresh out of university with no idea what to do next, or an experienced professional feeling unfulfilled and craving a change in your career, here are 5 strategies for identifying what your future should look like.
As humans, we really struggle with thinking outside of the box.
Probably because venturing too far from the cave used to mean you’d get eaten by a tiger. But these days, the consequences for dreaming big are actually pretty inconsequential. Yet we don’t do it.
Naturally, we base our thoughts and predictions on our past experiences.
If I’ve been great at baseball for the past 10 years, I can see myself being great at baseball for the next 10 too, but I can’t fathom that I’ll be a pro at kite surfing.
Unfortunately, dwelling on past experiences won’t get you where you need to go if you are not fulfilled with your current situation.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.TONY ROBBINS
This post is all about implementing different strategies to reimagine your reality and reinvent your future.
They stem from recommendations that Chris Guillebeau makes in his book Born For This, where he reflects on successful people who have changed direction and how they managed to do it effectively. Grab hold of it if you feel like what you do could align better with what you value, even if you don’t necessarily have the urge to quit tomorrow.
And while it’s on its way from Amazon, try these five strategies for changing your path.
1. Create your resume from the future
If you lived in your ideal world, 5, 10, 20 years from now, what would your resume say? Who would you be?
One of the psychological tricks we can play with our mind to get it to see past the obstacles in front of our goal is to imagine as if we’ve already succeeded.
This is the same strategy that I use daily in my morning routine when focusing on my goals.
First off, it forces you to actually get crystal clear on what you want. So often, we’ll live in a state of discontent, without pinpointing what exactly would allow us to live a life we love. This eliminates that indecision and procrastination by forcing you to dream big, and think specifically.
Second, it flicks a switch in your brain whereby suddenly your new goal is possible. Building it into your vocabulary, getting it down on paper, putting it out into the universe, all makes it tangible, and thereby achievable. If it’s an arbitrary concept, not well defined, never spoken, or always referred to as a ‘maybe, someday, if only...’ then it will never be achieved.
So, make up your own job titles and elaborate on the responsibilities. What would your resume say in the future? Get as detailed as you can, and cover as broad a range of interests as you’d like.
Here is an example:
- Life coach: challenges people to get past their excuses and prioritize action in order to drive improvement and achieve their wildest dreams
- Facilitator: develops and facilitates personal development workshops for groups of people looking to live their best lives
- Author: NY Times best selling author on topics like building a life you love and taking the path less travelled
- Motivational Speaker: Keynote speaker at personal development events around the world
The best part about this exercise was being able to ignore all of the barriers between where I am now and where I want to end up, and instead focusing on what that end goal looks like.
2. Assess your marketable skills
When you want out of a certain job or career but have no idea what to do instead, go back to square one and figure out all of the things you actually like to do.
As we go through life, it’s easy to lose sight of who we are and what we enjoy by comparing ourselves to others and chasing somebody else’s dreams.
With most of my life coaching clients, I find that they’ve always known what their best life looks like, it just got buried along the way.
Your passion my be slightly more refined now than it was when you were 12, but it is likely still rooted in the same activities.
So, turn the timer on for 3 minutes and pour out as many ideas as you can think of about the things you like doing. Think about what you do in your spare time, what you would do if you didn’t need any money, how you would spend your days if you had all of the skills and qualifications and permissions to do whatever you want.
It doesn’t matter what pops out of your head, just go with the flow.
My first round looked like this:
- analyze information and drill it down to the bare essentials
- plan things out and create effective routines
- organize activities and physical spaces
- light people up – help them reach a level they haven’t attained before
- read things and summarize them
- make goals and reach them
- think about abstract concepts
- find creative solutions
- work collaboratively
These things may not provide you with a specific job title (nowhere on the list does it say become a life coach or a continuous improvement manager) but they will help you understand the qualities and content of a job that would suit you best.
Once you know what you like, you need to understand which of your interests are marketable (because the world probably won’t pay you to nap on the couch).
What’s a problem you could solve for other people, with the skills and passion that you have?
For example, if you like organizing events and working with kids, and parents need somewhere to send their kids in the summer, you can market your ability to run kids summer camps and parents will gladly pay for it.
If you love organizing your closet, and your friends are hoarders, you can market your skills and become a professional organizer.
What problem would people pay money for to make it go away?
The only part you have left is to figure out what you’re bad at and what you hate doing.
This will be helpful in pointing you away from the wrong career because with a better understanding of your weaknesses you can avoid jobs in which you won’t be as successful as if you were playing on your strengths. For me the list was:
- networking in large groups of random strangers
- making small talk
- technical work (ie. trades)
Unfortunately, you won’t always be able to avoid doing the things you don’t like. I’ve got to sell and network if I want to grow my business, but I know not to take a career as a salesperson for a large company where that would be my primary responsibility.
So take 5 minutes to think about
- What you enjoy doing
- Problems you could solve for other people
- Things you despise doing
It also helps to get some outside perspective on this. Ask your friends, family members, or colleagues what they think your strengths and weaknesses are, what you’re exceptional at, and what they see filling you with dread.
9 times out of 10, complete strangers would say some version of the same things, because you are you, at your core.
Related post: Building A Meaningful Life
3. Change your perspective
Have you ever questioned the narrative you’ve been told about what success and happiness truly consist of?
Chris writes about something that really hit home: the gap between what we’re taught to believe and what reality actually is. In Born For This, Chris explains how we are taught:
- To accept any career opportunity that comes our way because we may never get another chance
- That legitimate jobs require 40 hours/week in an office
- That we should pigeonhole ourselves into one specialty and avoid branching out into new things
- That we should follow each rung of the traditional corporate ladder, all the way to the top, until we’ve got the corner office.
Instead, Chris urges readers to shatter those misconceptions and “flip the script.”
Find an idol or a mentor whose life you actually want — that may not be the overworked CEO and that’s okay! Figure out how they got to where they are and look for cues of what you can do to get on the same track.
But most importantly, stop telling yourself that success looks the same for everyone.
Live a well rounded life. Explore all the opportunities that interest you. If you miss one, there’ll be others. And there’s more than one way to work.
4. Resign every year
In an effort to avoid discomfort and stay in our comfort zones, we often choose ‘the devil we know.’
Are you playing small?
Are you staying in a mediocre job that is kind of okay? Are you settling for something that will pay the bills even though it doesn’t light your heart up? Are you trying to convince yourself that it is okay to let go of your dreams because you’ve got a mortgage and this job pays the bills?
Here’s a tip: resign your job every year.
Pick a date on which you will “quit” your job every year, unless — after you weigh all of your possible options — your current job really is the best path forward.
I love this because it forces us to be proactive in living intentionally, and eliminates the option of passively wading through life, settling for whatever comes our way.
So if your job is the best option, give it your all! If not, immediately look for something better and don’t waste your time.
This strategy allows us to make a conscious choice every year to do what’s in our best interest.
Sometimes the thing you’ve done for so long isn’t the thing you need to do nextChris Guillebeau
5. Test your talents
If it is time for you to make a leap, especially into a field unknown, test your talents.
Give 100 people your time/service/product in 15 minute increments for free, to assess whether there’s a market for your idea, and to help you refine your skills.
Then you will be well on your way to launching your product/service successfully, or moving on to something more worthwhile without investing too much in something that’s doomed to fail.
The key here though is to start quickly. Avoid analysis paralysis.
If it works, you can improve it. If not, you haven’t wasted much time. Just do it.
To win, you shouldn’t always just keep going. Regroup and try something different. Winners quit all the time. Sometimes you just need to find a new game to play.Chris Guillebeau
Intentionally making a change in your life can feel overwhelming.
Especially if you’re a facts person like me, and your plan is still very murky and comes with no guarantees. Add in the complexity that comes with being conditioned to believe in one version of success. Then, even though you’re likely not the first person to do whatever it is you dream of doing, it can still feel as if you’re blazing a completely new path.
The things that helped me build a life I love when I was going through a quarter life crisis and was in big need of a change were
- Figuring out what I loved to do
- Defining in detail what my ideal career looks like
- Changing my narrative about success
- Giving myself a deadline
- Just starting something
If you’re struggling with deciding the direction you want to take in life, or if you have an idea but can’t seem to make any real progress toward it, I challenge high achievers to overcome perfectionism and procrastination so that they can go from average to unbelievable and build a life exploding with joy.
I would love to work with you to get you past the Monday blues and not only design, but build, a life that you love living.
And if you’ve found this article useful, do a girl a solid and share it on Pinterest!
- The Key To Making Hard Decisions
- Tips On Working From Home & Building Your Dream Life
- Finding Your Purpose With 10 Questions
What change are you struggling to make in your life? Let me know in the comments below!