Category Archives for "Motivation"

Career Strengths
Nov 04

A strong way to find your ideal career

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

What are you good at? I mean REALLY good at?

An awareness of your strengths will help you to find or develop the right career path for you.

What are strengths

Strengths are ways of being and behaving that come easily to you, that tend to energise you, and that you enjoy. According to some theorists, strengths are a combination of your talents and skills.

Talents are innate. You will probably have displayed them from an early age, in different contexts.

Skills are learned competencies. They are things that you can do; that you have practiced and become good at, to a greater or lesser degree.

The power point is where the two overlap. As we go through life we develop a range of specialist and transferable skills that help us in our working lives, and allow us to take on increasingly challenging roles. But it is when we develop skills in our areas of natural strength that we can really shine. The right job or career for you is one where you can draw on your strengths most of the time. Not only will this make your working life more enjoyable, but will offer you greater potential for excellence and advancement.

So for example your skill-set might include research skills and writing skills, but what really energises you is when you combine this with a talent for engaging with others. As a result, a real strength might be working collaboratively to come up with creative ideas and concepts and then pull these together into a strategic plan.

How to identify your strengths

You might not always recognise your natural strengths as such, because they come so naturally to you. For example, do you find it easy to understanding how other people are feeling and to imagine yourself in their shoes? Do you thrive on taking charge of a situation and align others with the direction that you want to take. Are you naturally energised by competition and the chance to “win”? Do you find it easy to build and maintain deep relationships?

To identify your strengths, start by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • What activities make me feel energised?
  • How do I naturally behave when I’m under pressure?
  • What have I always yearned to do?
  • What makes me feel good?

And ask others that you know, personally or professionally, to give their views too.

Your strengths and your career

When you honour your innate talents, and add in the life experience, knowledge and learned skills that make you unique, finding the right career path becomes a lot easier.

If you would like to find out more, the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 describes a robust strengths model based on extensive research from the Gallop organisation. And the book includes an access code for an online diagnostic, to identify your top 5 strengths.

And if you would value some impartial support with finding your career path, find out how  I can help.

Image courtesy of Colleen McMahon/Flickr

Dream job
Oct 13

Is finding your dream job realistic?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

Is there a job that you would love to do? But you don’t yet have the experience, and are not even sure if achieving your dream is realistic.

Let’s face it, most employers are risk averse. They want to be certain that you are up to the job, and the easiest way for them to be sure is to hire some who has actually done it before.

Even if you dream of running your own business doing something you love, you will run up pretty quickly against reality. If you don’t offer a product or service people want AND find a way to tell them about it through your marketing, then you don’t have a business.

So how do you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?

3 steps to bridge the gap

There is a 3 step process that can help you navigate through change.

A. Have a vision of where you want to go.

B. Get crystal clear about the reality of where are you right now.

C. Work out the steps needed to get from A to B and turn these into an actionable plan

Dream first! Then get real.

I’m a big fan of realism when it comes to reviewing your career options, but only at the right point. The right point is after you have identified your absolute ideal job. So start off by dreaming big!

But after the big dream you must ask some reality checking questions about it so you know exactly what this work involves on a day to day basis. Try and speak with people who are actually doing this type of work to get a sense of what is really involved.

A reality check of your perfect job or business may throw up compromises and barriers. For example more status and money may mean working long hours, to gain new qualifications or experience, and to meet what is needed to reach that level.  Is this what you really want?  Or you might identify fears of not being good enough – can I really make it? Isn’t it safer just to dream?  Or it might reveal that even if there is a long way to go and it may involve some financial sacrifice along the way, you are absolutely committed and are prepared to do whatever it takes.

The reality check is a positive thing, because it means you are starting to turn the dream from what may be pure fantasy to a vision of something you might actually end up doing. You may find yourself making changes to your original dream job at this point. To start with a big dream and adjust it after a reality check is far more powerful than to limit your thinking initially with too much realism.

Make it happen.

Once you’ve identified a job, career or business idea that resonates and feels right, then you can start to work out how to make it happen.

And this is where it’s important to come back to the present and focus in detail on where you are now. This includes digging down into all your strengths and transferable skills, as well as being specific about any gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.

Then you can start to formulate an actionable plan.  If there’s a big gap between what you want and you can’t see the end point, then set a mid point, something that would give you a lot of what you want and then work towards that.

The truth is that career change involves a fair amount of good fortune and serendipity as well as careful planning. But the great thing about planning is that it is within your control and something that you can do NOW to take you a step closer to achieving your dreams.

Like some help?

A career coach can help speed up the process of career change. Contact me now for your FREE 30 minute career consultation. REQUEST YOUR CONSULTATION HERE.

Flexible worker balancing files
Jul 02

A more flexible career

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development , Motivation

Want to make changes in your working life, but can’t afford to leave your job? Your life may just have become easier.

From 30 June 2014, the right to request flexible working has been extended. This right used to be enjoyed by parents and carers, but is now available to anyone who has 26 weeks’ continuous employment with their employer. This could help you if you want to work towards a long term career change whilst staying in your current job, or just want a different work-life blend.

What is flexible working?

According the CIPD, it is “a type of working arrangement which gives some degree of flexibility on how long, where when and what times employees work.”

This can take a variety of forms, here are just a few examples:

  • part-time work, whether that be for a few hours each day, or one or more days a week
  • flexitime, where you can choose when your working day starts and finishes (within agreed parameters, for example there may be core hours when you need to be at work)
  • compressed hours, for example completing contracted full-time hours over four days instead of five
  • working from home for some of the week
  • a career break or sabbatical

Flexible working can open up opportunities that may not be available in a standard 9-5. You could spend a day a week studying towards a qualification or new career, spend more time on a hobby, or even start a part-time business. In the final example, you will need to be sure there isn’t a conflict of interest with your day job.

In my last salaried job, I was able to work flexi-time and this was a real benefit. It allowed me to avoid the worst of the rush hour and get to work feeling more relaxed and productive than I would have been otherwise. I have also worked part-time in the past, allowing me time to study.

How to request flexible working

Requests must be made in writing and must include: the date of your application, the change you are seeking, and when you would like it to come into effect. You need to consider the effect of the change on your employer and your opinion on how any such effect might be dealt with. You also need to state that it is a statutory request, and if and when you have made a previous application for flexible working. You are only allowed to make one request in any 12 month period.

In considering the effect of the change on your employer, you may want to demonstrate how it might help you to maintain or improve your performance at work. For example working from home can be really effective if you have a concentrated piece of work such as report to write. Research has shown that multi tasking is inefficient, and some home working can both increase productivity for your employer, and save you time and money on travelling to work that day.

Employers have a duty to consider a request in a reasonable manner and if they refuse, then this needs to be for a business reason.

Clearly some jobs lend themselves more easily to flexible working than others, and you might want to take this factor into account when you are job seeking.

Find out more

For research on multi tasking, see this summary from the American Psychological Association

For information on how to request flexible working, the ACAS website has advice and guidance.

You might also enjoy my article on portfolio careers

Flash point firework image
Jun 25

Triggers for career change

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

Many people who make a significant career change can trace this back to a trigger point, something that pushed them to re-evaluate where they were, and what they wanted to do and be. Sometimes this flash point can be quite dramatic, as was the case for Jane Hardy.

Health crisis

Jane had a high-powered job in sales in the financial sector, on the road, spending weekday nights in hotels, always looking for the next deal, the “kill.” Then her life changed dramatically when at the age of 42 she suffered a cardiac arrest. Only 5% of people survive this experience, and Jane was one of the lucky ones. As a result of this experience, she took at good hard look at her life. “I felt like she had been given a second chance and I wanted to make a difference.”

Jane retrained as a debt counsellor, working for different charities and starting her own debt counselling service. This led her to discover networking and eventually the Fabulous Women network where she said “I felt like I’d come home. It was all about collaboration, support, and supporting others to be successful.” Jane’s involvement in networking led to her third career. She joined Fabulous Women as a regional manager, and 18 months down the line, she now owns the company!

Fortunately for most people, the trigger will be a less dramatic but can still be life-changing. Events such as a significant birthday, starting a family, redundancy, or seeing children off to college, can push us to re-evaluate what matters in our working lives, and find a more satisfying future.

Milestone birthday

For Laura Geaves, hitting her 30th birthday was the trigger for a career change. Laura had been working as a PA. When she turned 30, she looked at where she was in her career and realised that there was no way up in the company and role she was in. This led her to asking herself some searching questions: “What am I actually achieving in life? What do I really enjoy?”

For Laura, marketing had always been something she thought was interesting and she decided to make it her career. She took her Chartered Institute of Marketing qualification and is now a Marketing Executive at KPC Creative Communications, a consultancy in Farnham, Surrey. Unlike her previous job, this business offers career progression, and Laura is working towards becoming an account manager. Laura’s advice for career changers is to “Look at what you are interested in, be committed, and believe in yourself.”

Time for a change?

However uncomfortable the trigger point, people commonly look back and see it as a step towards more positive and satisfying work. And you can sometimes avoid reaching a crisis point in the first place by picking up earlier on signs that you need a change, such as ongoing feelings of stress or boredom, or just a niggling feeling that something isn’t quite right.

If something is in your life, or inside yourself, is telling you that it’s time for a change, then it’s wise to take notice and spend some reviewing where you are, and where you want to be.

80/20 pie chart
May 28

How much time do you spend doing work you love?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation

Doing anything worthwhile takes hard work, there is no way around that. But what a difference there is between the soul-sapping grind of work, when you are in the wrong career or job, and the heart-lifting joy of work that plays to your strengths and skills and feels worthwhile. It may not even feel like work, hence the famous words from Chinese sage Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

In my own working life, I enjoy coaching and training so much that it doesn’t feel like work now. It also gives me an opportunity to do what I’m good at. But of course developing the skills and gaining the experience to make it feel easy has taken time and energy. And I like the fact that this is a line of work where there is always more to learn and master, so it never gets dull. But in order to have a business doing what I love, I also need to do things that I don’t enjoy such as keeping accounts, cross-referencing, proofreading.  To some extent these tasks can be outsourced, but the reality is that most of them are done by me, as part of what needs to be done to keep myself in business.

The 80/20 rule offers us a useful rule of thumb. Is more than 20 % of your time, one day out of five if you work full time, spent on work that you really dislike, or which you are not good at? If the answer is yes, then perhaps it is time to consider a change. This may be to a different career, a different organisation, or a different role.  And if you’re not sure what to do next in your working life, you might find career coaching helpful.

by Felicity Dwyer