Tuesday, February 16, 2010

5 Questions for Thinking about Your Next Job

Are you pondering a next job? Have you lost yours and thinking that what you left just might not be what you want for the new job? Getting answers about yourself might be useful.

You must begin with you. You are unique, and while we share similarities, you are a unique combination of qualities, dreams, desires, capabilities. That makes it difficult for others to help you sometimes because they don't have your answers, though they love dictating them. Don't you love your game of rejecting those suggestions because they didn't fit? You, in your quiet moments, with your quivery and unsure self, are the doorway to answers for yourself.

"But I think about this constantly!" an out-of-work client will tell me, who confesses "I don't know!" to questions I'd posed earlier. Ruminating is almost the same thing as asking others for your life direction. You avoid the hard work of digging for a solution.

You'd be surprised how close you are to insight if you'll WORK with basic questions about what's next. Sit with a trusted other (friend, coach, spiritual advisor) who will hold your feet to fire and not let you wiggle away from the discomfort of discovery. Let them ask you these questions. Or, sit with a pencil (computer only as a last resort and only if you can access your heart from a keyboard) and begin writing. AND, to keep you from scooting away from the assignment, make yourself accountable to someone to report your answers.

The questions:

1. How long can I live without making money?
It may be weeks or months. What resources do you have? Savings? Unemployment? Severance? Loans from family members? This gives you a picture of how much time you can give to explore possibilities.

2. What does work mean to me right now?
What have you been focused on? How ambitious have you been? How have you changed? Are you still seeking what you once did (position, money, influence), or are you now seeking a lifestyle, fun, hard work that's more in line with who you are?

3. How much money do I need to make?
An exhausted client, eager for a better vista, realized she could live on half of what she'd been making, AND was okay with that. If you have kids headed for college, your viewpoint may be quite different.

4. If I adopt a WTF attitude, what are five things I might consider doing, or places I'd like to work?
If there were no obstacles, what might you pursue? One client may realize he wants to build fine furniture, another to sell antiques. You might simply realize that you can have a job like the one you're vacating, but need to have a creative outlet in your free time.

5. Who are 10 people I can talk to about what I want next?
We all live in ruts because, frankly, they're comfortable and predictable. The trouble is you become not-the-me-I-want-to-be. Still, it's hard to stretch out, to change. Talking to others forces our thought process deeper, maybe causes us to abandon that emigration to Aruba, but definitely expands us, lets in fresh air, gives us additional ideas, gets us moving.

Even if you return to what you had before, changing jobs is an opportunity for you to explore being more of who you really are. Have active conversation with your deepest self, then act to test and move toward what you want. These questions provide a good beginning.