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The Next Step for designing your career

The first session of ICON’s Next Step program kicked off last week with speaker Linda Murray, founder of Athena Coaching and Athena Leadership Academy, a professional development hub for high performing and high potential professionals. The Next Step events are designed to support the development of up-and-coming professionals. The first session focused on how to design your career around the things that you genuinely enjoy and make you happy.

Linda started the seminar by saying “my days are full of everything I love and nothing I don’t”. This set the tone for the entire talk, about how ICON members can shape their careers around things they genuinely enjoy. She reminded the audience that luck isn’t what changes your career but rather, design. 

One of the key obstacles to fulfilment and satisfaction in your career is mindset.

One of the key obstacles to fulfilment and satisfaction in your career is mindset. Linda reminded the participants that you are in control of your own happiness, but that is often forgotten. “Dreams get smashed by should and how” said Linda. For example, a common internal dilemma is “how am I going to make money doing what I love?” or “you should get more qualifications if you want to do that”. These words create huge obstacles and as Linda suggested “the words ‘should’ and ‘how’ ought to be banned when designing your ideal career”.

There are obstacles involved in career change, most of them are internal struggles that stop people from making the decision to change their career, Linda identified three main obstacles.

Too many career options to choose from, therefore we don’t choose any:

With so many job opportunities available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the volume of choice. Today’s professionals will have upwards of five jobs, whereas the generations previous may have only had one job that they kept for more than 50 years. This often stops people from actively making a risky but positive change because they’re afraid of failure.

Ladder Mentality:

‘Ladder mentality’ refers to the common misconception that everyone should be solely focused on climbing the corporate ladder. Linda reminded the audience that not everyone needs to continuously climb up because that may not be what makes you happiest. Instead Linda said, “Your career is not a ladder, it’s a lattice, something which can be climbed all over in many directions.” Business professionals are constantly jumping between different positions and are changing their roles though not necessarily always climbing up.

It is important to consider what you’re good at because you will feel more comfortable and enjoy your work more.

Jack Johnson Syndrome:

Named after the singer’s song “Sitting, waiting, wishing” it refers to people who “sit waiting around wishing for someone to notice them, or to get a promotion” said Linda. This is a mistake that professionals often make, you must take control of your life and make a change that will benefit your life; not to rely on other people to know what you want.

Linda presented three key pieces of advice to help you take control of your career.

1. Look at what you’re good at.

It is important to consider what you’re good at because you will feel more comfortable and enjoy your work more. Linda suggested, “find out what your strengths are, they are your unique superpower.” Linda isn’t suggesting only stick to what you’re good at, but the more you incorporate your strengths into your daily professional life, the happier you will be.

2. Consider the life you want to be living.

Sometimes people plod through life without thinking critically about what they really want. Often, it’s hard to understand what it takes to be happy until you can identify what your ideal life will look like. Once you identify the future you want, you can begin to make positive changes to achieve those goals.

3. Ask yourself: How can I achieve that?

Create some practical strategies that will help you achieve this. It’s important to have some intents, Linda said. Goals are too rigid, you either achieve it or you don’t. Rather, set yourself intents, with more flexibility. These intents are the key to success, consider creating a written structure of what you want as this is one of the most important strategies in achieving success. Start with a one-year plan, then break that down into a one-month plan and then a one-week plan.

It’s important that you take control of your career, no one else will understand what makes you happy or what your ideal life looks like. If you want to make a positive change to your career you need to be the first person to make that change.

This Insight is related to the first of five ICON Next Step sessions. More information about upcoming Next Step events will be posted soon, look out on social media.

If you would like to take the Next Step and start to design your career, Linda has created an online version of this workshop. Her online program is perfect to use at any stage of your career or when you are looking to make some decisions and take action around ‘what’s next’ in your professional life. To find out more about this online program click here.

To help get you started on taking the Next Step, Linda is offering our network a special launch price of her program of $395 (normally $795). To take advantage of this discount use code ICONCCOCP when registering. This offer finishes on the 30th April 2018.

“Imagine what you could achieve with accountability, certainty and the confidence you need to strengthen your position at work or in life.” – Linda Murray