As you head back to the new working year, you’re full of refreshed energy and optimism as you consider the career potential of the year ahead. It’s the time of year where your ideas and intentions are more likely to be acted upon, and the months ahead provide a clean canvas where anything can happen.
Is this you?
If so, I’m going to one super-helpful piece of advice that I’ve seen have an incredible, positive impact on many professionals and business owners (including myself!) as they set about making changes and taking action in their careers.
Beware of the word “should”!
I’m not a big fan of the word SHOULD (or any of its close relatives e.g. MUST). “Should” immediately suggests you’re doing something because someone else wants you to do it or thinks it’s a good idea.
Now, I’m not suggesting you stop asking others for advice. On the contrary, when you’re stuck trying to figure things out, asking questions of those who are doing what you want to do, is a necessity.
However, I recommend making your questions specific, rather than general. For example, instead of asking “how would I do this?”, try “what steps did you take to do this?”. Then assess the response as useful information, rather than adding it directly to your “to do” list.
You see, what works for others might work for you, but it also might do the complete opposite.
If you’re a night owl and someone says you “should” exercise in the morning, or if you’re a coffee lover and you’re advised to stop buying your one precious latte a day to save money… how are you going to feel?
At best, you’ll be annoyed, frustrated, or disappointed. But, far worse, you may end up in a spiral of self-doubt, wondering why you’re not good enough to make this advice work for you.
The truth is each of us has our own unique set of thoughts, opinions, behaviours and beliefs. Because of this, some advice, regardless of how “good” it is, is simply not right for you.
Start by understanding who you are
In my experience, when you’re trying to figure out what to do in your career or with your business, the “should / must” advice increases exponentially. Some make entire businesses out of selling you their advice about what you “should” do.
The best way to filter out useful advice from the “should / must” ideas, is by having a clear understanding of what makes you tick. Start by creating a profile of “you” by answering these questions –
- What do you enjoy and not enjoy doing?
- How do you consume information? Written or visual? Short form or long form?
- What times of the day you have the most energy and feel most productive?
- Where do you get your energy from?
- What are you motivated by?
- Do you like to start things? Or finish things?
- Do you prefer to be organised? Or to wing it?
- Do you stick to a routine? Or seek out variety?
Add to this profile over time by applying your curiosity and continuing to interrogate.
Once you have a clearer picture of who you are and what suits you, filtering other people’s “should / must” advice becomes far more straightforward. And remember, there’s no magic one-size-fits-all way of doing things… and, thank goodness for that, otherwise we’d all be exactly the same!
If you want this to be the year you achieve those goals and design a career you love, on your terms, you’ll need to think differently about what’s possible for you. Let’s discuss how I can help stop making excuses and start taking action. It’s time for you to stop waiting for that dream career opportunity to present itself and make it happen instead…