Part of a job search or deciding to change careers involves taking a look our past accomplishments. Typically, I ask coaching clients to outline work and accomplishment stories that we can later feature on resumes or in interviews. These stories often times hold the clues to what the person excels at, why they like the work they do, or, in other words, what lights them up.
What do I mean by accomplishment stories? Not just the times where you got accolades in a performance review but your “Yes” moments. Yes, I am good! Yes, I love my work! Yes, this is what was meant to be.
When you are looking at what you want to do next with your day job what matters more than what you’ve accomplished is what really lights you up. When in your life have you been strong? On fire? In the zone? What were you doing when you felt this? When have you felt a sense of pride and known you have done something well?
Examples from my life:
LIVING ALONE FOR THE FIRST TIME – I graduated from university and chose to live by myself in Vancouver with no roommates and no cable. This was a big deal for me as I am a highly social person who had (sometimes still has) difficulties being alone. What I learned during that living alone year in Vancouver is that I did not mind spending time on my own and I really did enjoy my own company. I developed hobbies and tried to spend quality time with myself. I worked through “the Artist Way.” I read more, wrote, and did lots of other creative projects. This lit me up as I really enjoyed the amount of time I spent being creative.
ACTING IN LIVE THEATRE – Up until I was 17, I took singing, dancing and acting lessons. The best part I got was playing Peter Pan. I loved acting and being on stage. For a long time, this was something I wanted to do as a career. Singing now still lights me up. Even if it’s just the Indigo Girls as a bedtime song or 80’s music as I drive to work.
MANAGING A TEAM AT AN EMPLOYMENT CENTRE – I am proud of the team I managed and the relationships I had with my staff. What lit me up? The relationships I built with people and the goals we achieved as a team. I tried to always work with integrity and respect even in difficult downsizing situations.
What do these stories say about me: I need a job where I can be creative, relationships are important to me and sometimes I still like to take the stage.
Now it’s your turn. Reflect on the proud moments you have had in your life and describe what you were doing – get specific about the situation that made you feel proud. It doesn’t matter whether these are professional or personal. In fact, don’t limit them to only professional endeavors. What matters is that you recognize and reflect on times you felt strong and bright from the inside out. Then, you go and do more of that.
Now what? How does this relate to what you want to do in your work and, more importantly, in your life? Make a list of career and life ‘must haves’: freedom to be creative, working alone or on a team, relationships are paramount, family, time with friends, a pet, hobbies, etc.
Take this list and start sketching out what your life and work looks like with these must haves in it. Structure your day, even if for now it is just in your imagination, around these values, and see what you come up with. Take this list/sketch to a coach to help you dream this into being.