6 reasons for career confusion

As a career coach I see many clients who have the presenting problem of career indecision and confusion. However, there are many underlying issues that often need unpacking. The six most common I see are:

1. Parental pressure

High parental expectations often exert a lot of pressure on children – from school aged to middle aged adults and beyond. Parents often want their child to follow a path of their choosing due to family tradition or making up for their own lost opportunities.

2. Lack of confidence

A lack of belief and confidence in themselves to choose their own path can be very debilitating.

3. Focussing on weaknesses not leveraging strengths

Many people think they need to focus on and improve their areas of weakness rather than identifying and leveraging their strengths. For example, I’ve spent a lot of time doing analysis and paying attention to detail at the expense of one of my top five strengths of creativity.

4. Wanting to make the perfect decision

Holding back from making a decision in case it’s wrong or there are regrets is common. No decision will ever be perfect. You just need to weigh up the pros and cons, do your research and at some point take a big breath and jump in. See where the opportunities will take you. You’ll never know until you try.

5. Financial responsibilities

Being a breadwinner with financial and family commitments is a very common reason not to make a change. That’s why having a transition plan is essential.

6. A lot of time and effort has been invested in their current career

Many people have worked hard and invested a lot of time and effort into their current career and gained much knowledge and expertise. That’s why it’s important to look closely at your current career for opportunities to remodel or refocus what you do.

Career storytelling

I like to start career coaching with a wide ranging interview talking in depth about the many aspects of your career and life in general and summarise it in a career report. This process helps to capture highs, lows, trends, patterns and themes and presents it back to the client. It is a snapshot of your life and career up until that point from an objective observer. Sometimes I get it wrong but there are many insights and reflections that can emerge. I also strongly encourage clients to do a strengths assessment (there’s a number I can recommend) to identify a client’s top five strengths and then reflect on if the findings feel right and how to use the results in future career decisions.

Fear of change is a key driver for many. The first step is the hardest.

Why explore your life history during career coaching?

Reflecting and articulating your life story can lead to insights, rich meaning and unification of events that seemed disparate until retelling the story. Your past experiences give clues to your motives, abilities, values, interests and character strengths. The way you decide to organise, retell and sequence your story unifies your life story and describes possible development pathways. This process helps me form an overview of your life and career and gives me an insight into your life patterns and themes and clues to occupational possibilities.

I help you discover your strengths and desires and uncover discrepancies and contrasting periods of your life as variations on, quite often, a common theme running through your life. I present my findings in a short report.

During this process I recommend assessments that identify your strengths and talents to help form and confirm your life story. My preference is for:

  1. Clifton Strengths Finder by Gallup https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Purchase/en-US/Index which gives your talents
  2. Via Character Strengths assessment http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths/Personality-Assessment which gives your character strengths.

If you want to find out more follow the above links or email me today at sue@suewebster.co

Join the strengths challenge

Want to be more confident, energized and happy at work? Join the free one-week Strengths Challenge and find out how just 11-minutes of doing what you do best each day can make all the difference in your job. Starting Monday 8th February, Michelle McQuaid, the VIA Institute and Live Happy will help you discover your strengths, create an 11-minute habit to put your strengths to work and discover the impact it has on your performance and wellbeing. You’ll be able to chat with people all over the world taking the challenge and get free support from world-renowned strength coaches. It’s time to reclaim your happiness. Sign up for the challenge today at http://michellemcquaid.ontraport.com/t?orid=9438&opid=1


What’s your career critical path?

What’s your career critical path?

Working in large projects I hear a lot of talk about critical paths.

Put simply it’s the list of all required tasks and the estimated date to complete a project in the minimum time.

What is the relevance of this to your career development?

Let’s consider your career as the project to build a new you. It might be the new you who has the job you want or it could be one who has the breadth of skills and experience to have the right options for future roles.

Either way there is work to do. This work takes time and to have the choices you need to focus on it. To build a career you need to do things like:

  • get qualifications
  • learn skills
  • gain experiences

These take time. Often it is easiest to broaden your experience early in your career before you cost too much or the size is too big for people to take a risk on someone unskilled. For example:

  • what order makes the most sense to learn the skills of your ultimate roles? Becoming great at effective strategy with no business or implementation experience will be tough
  • when do you need to develop people leadership skills? It take practice to get good at managing people. Lots of it. Start early.
  • when do you need customer skills (sales, service, credit, etc?) These skills too require experience and practice which means time. Importantly these skills include general people management & operations skills like presentation, influencing & time management that will contribute to your career success
  • how and when will you gain financial accountability, operational management, transformation or project leadership? Start thinking now about how you get small experiences in each of these before you next role requires it.

Everyone’s career is different. Many of these categories may not be relevant to your ambitions, so choose the ones that are. The principle I recommend is start practising the general skills and those with long lead times as early as you can.

In managing a career, it is never too late, but if you are ambitious and want to get somewhere fast, manage your critical path. The sooner you gain solid experience in the skills you need the better your options.  Start building your ‘new you’ project now.