I would like to invite you to go on a date with the most impressive person you have ever met. You will be surprised, awed and maybe even a little shocked afterwards. Yet, please don’t decline the invitation to this special date, I promise you won’t regret it.
So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to… YOU!
There is one person without whom you cannot plan your career: it’s you. There is one person you must know well before you can start plunging into the adventure of kick starting your career: it’s you. You need the support of this particular person, too. If you aren’t determined as to which direction you want to take for your career; if you don’t believe in yourself and your strengths; if you aren’t convinced you are the right person for that particular job you applied for, how could you convince others of your talents and fit?
Career orientation, self-assessment, self-discovery or simply “dating yourself” is the most important part of career planning and career development. Unfortunately, it is often forgotten and left aside but sooner or later the big questions of “Why?” (am I doing this?) and “What?” (do I really want to do?) come up in everyone’s life and career. I’m not saying that the “Why” and “What” will always be the same and I am in favour of questioning oneself every now and then. Nonetheless, I strongly feel that it is very helpful and crucial to do it as soon as possible.
There are many ways of getting to know yourself, your talents and priorities. And as we are all different, have different preferences and work differently, I would like to share with you some tools to take yourself on a date, and hope that there will be a fit for every one of you.
What: A vision board is a visualization of your future goals. It helps you to focus on what you want to achieve and keeps you focused. You can create it on a big poster, a canvas or even in digital format. Yet, the most important thing is that you put it somewhere where you can see it every day.
How: Take your favourite magazines or look through your favourite Instagram accounts and pick the pictures that represent best what you want to achieve in life in the next years. Do you maybe dream of living in Canada; do you want to lose weight? Well, pick a picture of Canada; look for an older picture of yourself or add pictures of vegetables and fruit to remind you that you want to change your eating habits.
For whom: The creative ones. And, of course, for everyone else who likes doing something with their hands and who has a visual memory.
Next steps: Grab your favourite magazines, a pair of scissors, pens, stickers, a big piece of paper and create your future! In her video Mimi Ikonn explains how to create your vision board and why it is important very well.
10 Questions About You
What: Guess what? They are 10 questions that you are supposed to answer. In the end, these questions will indicate what you are good at, what you care about and in which area you might want to work.
How: I definitely recommend taking some time for this. Turn on your favourite music, light a candle and take yourself on a date. Choose a quiet place and answer these 10 questions that I put together inspired by the “27 Question To Find your Passion” by Scott Dinsmore. On the second page I also added some explanations as to what each answer could mean.
For whom: This tool is universal and suitable for everyone. The only prerequisite is that you want to get to know yourself better and that you want to invest some time in it.
Next steps: It’s time to download the questions and have pen and paper ready. You will be surprised by whom you are going to meet!
What: WOOP stands for Wish – Outcome – Obstacle – Plan. First identify a WISH; then imagine the best OUTCOME of fulfilling that wish; also think of the OBSTACLE that stands in your way; and finally create the “If…, then…” PLAN. The WOOP method is another ideal way to take yourself on a date and get to the core of what you really want.
How: The setting is similar to the other two methods mentioned earlier. You need a quiet place and it’s best if you get something to write down the different points. Start with your wish: it must be something that you really want to accomplish. In the context of career development it can be, for example, “getting a promotion”, “changing career path”, “finding a job that suits your talents”. Your wish should be exciting, challenging and realistic. Give yourself time to identify your wish and let your mind travel. Once you have identified your wish, imagine the outcome. How would you feel? What would happen if your wish came true? Think of emotions, situations…try to imagine it in as much detail as possible and write it down. The third step brings you closer to reality. Think of the obstacles that prevent you from realising your wish. What is holding you back? Is it an emotion, a person, a habit? Are there more internal or external factors? Again, try to be as precise as possible and note it down. The fourth and last step is your plan. How can you overcome those obstacles? What actions can you take? Make an if/then plan and imagine it as precisely as possible. If you are, for example, looking for a job and one of your obstacles is your lack of motivation, try to break it down into smaller actions. One of these actions could be: “If I feel demotivated to write my application, I sit down, check the vacancy and start adapting my CV to it.”
For whom: You need a certain sense of imagination, and experience with meditation?? can be helpful, too. It can be very powerful and I warmly recommend it.
Next steps: If you aren’t convinced yet and want to maybe get more guidance on the WOOP method, here’s a video by Character Lab providing the instructions and a very practical example on how to apply the WOOP method.
There are plenty of other tools that can help you with both career orientation and career planning and if this is a topic you are interested in, please let me know in the comments and I will be more than happy to present some others. Or maybe there’s a method you have already used successfully and you want to share with us, then the comments section is for you as well.
I wish you a lot of fun with these methods and a great date with yourself. Enjoy!