A friend of mine called the other day seeking career advice. He is gainfully employed, happy where he is at and at the same time, feeling unfulfilled. When I asked him what he wanted to do, he stated that he was open to all possibilities. Wanting to stay in sales and/or sales management, he would consider a change in location and industry. While he is open to switching industries and he has transferable skills, the biggest value he brings to an employer is his experience, product knowledge, relationships and contacts in his current industry. Therein lies the paradox, while seeking a change, the change he seeks may not compensate him for the value he brings.
As a result of the nature of the work I do, I have a lot of discussions about career changes. During these conversations, it was always perplexing to me that people did not know what they really wanted to do. I was explaining this to one of my BizTalk Radio Show guests when he shared with me that when people don’t know what they really want to do it just means they are in a state of transition. He also said, “Jim you’ve been there, I’ve been there, we all have been in transition.” This made sense to me.
It had been a long time since I had been in a transitional state that I had forgotten how confusing it can be. We feel compelled to do something new and at the same time, we worry that it may be the wrong move. We seek answers by talking to others but the answer can only come from within.
Breaking out of Transition and Determining a Direction
To help my friend out, I sent him a series of questions. I call these the Focusing Questions:
- What do I do?
- Why do I do what I do?
- What results do I get from what and why I do? *
- What do I really want to be doing?
- What am I willing to give-up to get to do what I really want to do? **
- Who do I want to do it with? (your target company and title in the company)
- Who at these targeted companies would care about what and why I do?
- What do I want them to know?
- Once they know about me, what do I want them to do?
- What would have to happen to make this happen?
- What is the one thing I can do right now that will move me closer to what I want?
* Results need to be measurable and quantifiable.
** Nothing comes for free. To get something, you need to give something. If you end up wanting to switch career roles or industries then you may have to give up a title, compensation, location, company, etc. to get what you want.
Who am I and what do I want to do with my life are two of the hardest questions to ask. Your answer to those questions can change over time. Sometimes, the answer to those questions means you have to take a job to get in position to do what you really want to be doing. Before I started Performance Group, I took a job as a sales representative. It was the first role I played in my sales career. I had worked my way up the ranks to be a Director of Sales and even Vice President and General Manager. I knew to do what I really want to do I had to go back on the street and start selling again. I was willing to give up a lot to get in position to do what I wanted to do.
So, what do you really want to do and are you willing to do what ever it takes to be doing that?