Most of us have struggled with our careers at some stage in our life and found ourselves asking the big question “What am I doing with my life?”
As mothers, we’ve got more than just ourselves to consider when it comes to our own personal career goals. So how do you decide what an ideal career is when you’ve got so many considerations to take into account?
Here’s a simple 4-step formula to get you on track.
1. Begin with the end in mind
Too often we limit ourselves with practicalities like money, education and experience before we allow ourselves to imagine an ideal life and career where we had everything on our wish list.
Whilst it’s important to be mindful of reality, it’s equally important to allow yourself the opportunity to explore what could be if you really surrendered to trusting your gut and pursuing what you really love to do.
Tory Burch, Beyoncé and Sara Blakely didn’t get to where they are today by limiting themselves to practicalities. They pushed their boundaries and explored what an extraordinary life could be.
Now it’s your turn.
Action Step: If money, time or experience weren’t an issue, what would you do for work? If you’re drawing a blank don’t worry, visualise what an ideal workday would look like.
Perhaps you’d be a hot shot CEO “leaning in” to your career advocating programs that support working mothers or perhaps you’d be a small business owner who works three days a week so that you can spend more time with your children.
There’s no right answer. Remove your filter and have fun with this question. Go big – we’ll get to the practicalities later.
2. Explore your passions
A lot of career advice tells you to find your passion because once you find it you’ll be happy. Passion becomes this external thing that we have to search for. But the truth is it’s not outside of you, it’s already inside of you. It’s simply a question of teasing it out and exploring what makes you tick.
More often than not, passion comes from success. If you’re successful at something then your passion for it grows. Who doesn’t want to do more of what they’re good at?
Action Step: Brainstorm all the things you are passionate about. It can be anything from reading interior design books and blogs to creating beautiful meals for your family, write a list of your top 20 passions.
If you haven’t found your passion yet don’t stress. It’s a journey so have fun with it and treat it as an experiment and expect there to be trial and error. Create new things, take the lead in a project and keep exploring.
3. Get clear on your natural gifts and talents
Most of us have been taught to focus on our weaknesses. Report cards at school and performance reviews at work are focused on what we need to improve rather than celebrating what we’re already good at.
Whilst there’s a time and place to acknowledge weaknesses, when it comes to finding your ideal career you want to focus on your natural strengths that energise you. Chances are you’ll be more successful and passionate about what you’re doing if you’re naturally good at it.
Action Step: Ask yourself as well as your friends, family, colleagues and boss “What do you think are my top three strengths?”
Ask for tangible details like: detail oriented, thoughtful, organised rather than a good friend, supportive and “the best.” You want tangible strengths that you can identify with. Collect your results and circle the top 3 that resonate with you the most.
4. Start a side project
Now that you know what your ideal future looks like and you understand your passions and strengths it’s time to put all the pieces together.
Action Step: Pick a passion you’re most excited about and best aligns with your natural strengths. Create a side-project to see if you can make money doing it.
For example, if you love baking and are naturally gifted at it making cakes you could try and sell birthday cakes to time-starved mums who want custom themed birthday cakes for their kids.
You don’t have to register a limited company, blow your savings on a commercial kitchen. Just do what you can with what you have.
Good luck and remember, it’s all about trial and error so have fun with the process!