Question Your Career
I’ve been in a number of situations recently where the conversation has come up about careers and jobs and how to know whether it’s time to move on, or stay put, or stay where you are but take the next step within that organisation. How do you decide if you are ready to/ want to shake up your career and what you want to focus on?
All of those things that occur to us as we go through our career journeys and think about what we’re going to do next and where we need to go. This came up recently in an Action Learning Set (ALS) that I am facilitating, and as we explored the topic we decided that it would be really helpful to have a set of questions we can use to dig deeper into our own thinking. In an ALS, we take turns to ask questions about the topic that has been brought to the set. What we realised in this topic was that these questions were relevant to all of us around the table because we are all working we’re all carving out a career pathway. We’re all trying to find our feet and stretch ourselves and find belonging and a sense of comfort and ease and joy, along with meaning and challenge and learning, as we go through our working careers.
So I wanted to share with you here some of the questions that you can also use to provoke some thinking about where you are now and where you want to be, which, as you know, is one of the drivers of work I do through Quiet the Hive.
Are you ready? Grab a notebook so you can scribble notes; writing things down always produces better results than just trying to think about them on the hoof I find!
So here we go. Some questions that might just help you think about where you are in your career, in your job in your role, whether that’s the right place for you, where you might want to go to next.
Simon Sinek does a brilliant TED talk on Start With Why and has a book of the same title, talking about how important it is to know your purpose. Once we know what our purpose is (and a purpose doesn’t need to be a huge scary thing. It can be a small, contained thing, as long as it’s your purpose), it gives us clarity on whether we’re in the right place, doing the right things, for the right impact (as we see it)
So, what is your purpose in your role, and then I would ask you to think about your wider purpose and whether there is a connection between what you’re doing currently in your role and whether that aligns to what lights you up, What’s your purpose, broadly in life.
- Why are you doing the job you’re doing?
- What is your purpose in life? What lights you up?
- What is the connection between the job you’re doing and your wider purpose?
- The next thing is to think about if you could describe your ideal day in your role, what would that look like?
- Who would you be working with?
- Who would you be coming into contact with? Would you be coming into contact with anyone?
- Where are you working from? Is it a home based job? Is it somewhere busy? Is it somewhere quiet?
- What sorts of tasks are you doing?
- What sorts of opportunities that are there for moving around or going somewhere different?
So think about describing what your ideal day looks like. And then maybe take it more broadly.
- What is your ideal job look like?
- What impact do you have? How do you know? Is it measurable or not measurable? Tangible or not tangible?
- Where does that roll take you? (geographically or metaphorically)
- How much of your current role can you see in that ideal?
- What’s missing? How important is that to you?
Another question is how able are you to be the person you are in your current role? If you find that you’re stifling your authentic, true self I’d question if that’s the right role or environment for you. It’s exhausting trying to be two different people, and actually people can tell when you are not quite being true to your authentic self.
- Does your role currently allow you to be yourself?
- What are your strengths? And can you demonstrate them in the work that you’re doing?
- How would you like to be able to demonstrate them?
Now a strength isn’t necessarily something that you’re just brilliant at. It really has to be something you enjoy as well. So if you know how to do spreadsheets really whizzing and you’re really good at them, but it doesn’t bring you joy then I wouldn’t necessarily say that that’s a strength. It’s a skill set. A strength is something that really lights you up as well as being something you have a skill set in.
Next question is to think about where you derive meaning from your work and whether you’re getting it where you are. So linked to purpose, but also exploring more about the opportunities to learn, to grow, to enhance yourself as a person in a way that you might want to, whether that’s developing new skill sets or experiencing new ways of being working with different people.
- What meaning do you derive from your current role? Is that enough?
There are some checks that we can make that are tempting, sometimes, to ignore that tell you SO much. Your body will often let you know what you think or feel about a situation without you asking! Listening to your heart and head can tell you so much. A ‘hut’ (heart x gut) indication is not one to be ignored! Your heart and head may not always tell you the same thing, but it’s interesting to consider from both perspectives.
- What does your head tell you?
- What does your heart tell you?
So, there you are! A few little questions that you might want to think about. If you’re in a space where you’re thinking about your career at the moment.
As you may know if you’ve been with me a while, I am currently on a sabbatical from my substantive role in the NHS. The organisation I’m work for is going through a bit of a reorganisation currently, and I know that lots of people are thinking about what their next steps might be, what their options are. Do they stay and see what opportunities have presented themselves or is now a really good time to see this as an opportunity to start something new?They can step outside their comfort zone to try something different.
Sometimes when we are presented with challenges, or endings we forget to notice the opportunities that situation can bring us. Sometimes there’s something very serendipitous about the timing of changes in the workplace that give us an opportunity to notice what we might be lacking, or what we really enjoy and what feels under threat. Taking time to notice those things is really helpful because it can help you decide what you do, or don’t, want from your career.
Coaching can be such a helpful thing when we’re carving out our career pathway. Having someone to hold the time and space for you to be able to do thinking around the deeper questions that you hold for yourself can really help unlock new solutions, ideas and perspectives for you. It may be that this could be the next logical step for you once you’ve noticed some of the themes and patterns from the answers you’ve given yourself. Get in touch if I can help you explore that further.