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Four surefire steps to figure out what you really want

Thursday, July 11, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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kathycaprinoBy Kathy Caprino

In response to my blogs here and on Forbes and Huffington Post, I hear one comment over and over: "I just don’t know what I want. Despite all my efforts, I can’t figure it out what I want to do.”

I find this phenomenon amazing. So many women have lost touch with who and what they want to be professionally. We like to blame the economy and our money problems for our unhappiness, but that’s not the root cause of this career malaise. There are other reasons for feeling disconnected from what you do for a living. Who would have believed that there could be millions of people working in jobs and careers they hate, not able to figure out how they want to be of service in the world?

After 10 years of serving as a success coach and leadership developer, I’ve learned why people are so resistant to career change. And I’ve created a successful step-by-step program to help women find both the "essence” of what makes them happy and the right "form” of it to suit their financial needs, values, life intentions, standards of integrity and more.

Here are the four keys to figuring out what you really want:

1.Don’t throw the baby out – understand what is working along with what is not. Many people wake up in midlife and realize their careers are dissatisfying and unsuccessful, and they’re so upset about it, they want to chuck the whole thing out. Don’t make that mistake. Conduct a thorough assessment of what you would like to preserve and maintain in your current career, and get rid of only the parts that make you feel angry, sad, frustrated and thwarted. After all, you’ve been in this career for some time now – it’s not all bad. You were attracted to it once and you are utilizing some talents and skills that you want to continue to draw on.

2. Address your problems now, before making a change. Begin today to address and resolve what’s making you miserable in your current work before you leap. Until you feel more empowered and become more controlled, authoritative and masterful in your current situation, you can’t expect to attract a better situation in the next chapter. You’ve got to do the inner and outer work to earn a wonderful life ― it’s not just going to fall in your lap.

I’ve found that once my clients do the work to address their problems in the current situation (such as terrible bosses or cut-throat competition), their challenges tend to evaporate and often they don’t need to leap to something completely different.

3. Build your personal brand and tell your story well. Before you can figure out what you really want and get it, you have to know who you are and tell a compelling story about yourself. Of the thousands of professionals I meet and work with each year, only a tiny fraction can answer these questions in a compelling and engaging way:

  • What are you known for and fabulous at?
  • What do you offer and do that is different from what the best in your field do?
  • What were you noticed for back when you were a young adult?
  • What skills, talents and abilities make you stand out?
  • What life experiences have shaped you in special ways?
  • What are your life intentions?
  • What are your core values – the non-negotiables you need to be happy and fulfilled?
  • Whom do you love to serve and support, and why?
  • When you’re 90 years old looking back, what do you want to have given, stood for and achieved?

4. Now, connect the dots, and get the help you need. After you’ve done all this work, it’s time to connect the dots (listen to the amazing Steve Jobs TED Talk about how to live before you die and "connect the dots”).Figure out what paths will truly make sense for who you are and what you want to achieve in life.

Gain clarity by conducting online, offline, and in-person research to answer these critical questions:

  • What are my passions? Which of these make sense as a livelihood and which are better as hobbies?
  • Based on my passions, talents and skills, what careers are best suited to me?
  • What are the factors I need to consider in planning my next direction (money, timing, energy, geography, family needs, support, enjoyment, health, etc.)
  • Am I making any wrong assumptions about myself and my life I need to rethink?
  • Do I know what it takes to be successful in this new direction, and am I committed to it 100 percent?
  • Do I really want to start my own business, or am I just running away from something?
  • How will I fund my career change or transition?
  • Where will I find the ongoing support I need?

Don’t make the same huge blunders that so many career changers make. Do the inner and outer work required to discover who you are and what really matters to you; overcome the obstacles in the way of your success, and "try on” the paths that make the most sense for you and your life.

Kathy Caprino is a nationally recognized women’s success and leadership coach, speaker, and trainer dedicated to the advancement of women. Author of Breakdown, Breakthrough and founder and president of Ellia Communications, Inc., Caprino is a contributor to Forbes,Huffington Post and AARP. Follow her on Twitter at @kathycaprino. For Kathy's original post on this topic, visit her Forbes Leadership blog "Career Bliss."

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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