Zigzag Your Way to Happiness with Career Building Habits

I often tell colleagues and clients that my career journey is not a sturdy straight line  or an elegant arc  It's more of a zigzag with an arrow at the end pointing to what gives me energy, joy and juice in a work environment.  If the arrow is pointing anywhere it is pointing to what drives me, not to some illusion (hallucination) of a perfect company or job.  My drivers are:

  • Working in, with or for values-centered organizations and leaders that focus on people and serve a social mission
  • Collaborating--Creating opportunities to work with individuals and teams that understand and appreciate diversity, and who tap into its power each and every day
  • Using creativity as an engine for change and results
  • Crossing borders--knowing that to create something truly extraordinary  stepping out of your comfort zone and into new territories and relationships is critical. 

Dorie Clark, in her book Recognizing Where You are Starting From speaks about the importance of knowing who you are as a requirement for career success. Others call this "knowing your brand" or "making an impression."  I have always thought of this as taking stock, imagining where you want to be and preparing yourself to step into it.  At the end of day it is about developing a discipline or habits that include:

  • Seeking feedback from family and friends, colleagues and clients to understand your reputation, skills, assets--informally and formally
  • Being clear on your values
  • Reviewing and reflecting on accomplishments and finding the "threads" that run through your work
  • Assembling a "personal board of directors" on whom you can rely to be your sounding board
  • Studying and researching your trade...constantly
  • Crafting your narrative and telling your story through networking, service and socializing
  • Taking calculated risks and adding the right tools to your toolkit.

It does begin with looking inside, asking the deep questions and charting your course.  Here's a few questions for road...enjoy the journey!

  • Do I know enough about myself to convey my distinct and unique value proposition to those with whom I work? A future boss? My clients?
  • What are the one or two things I could learn this year that would keep me on target?
  • Do I know what's happening in my field and industry? Where can I plug into to be in-the-know?

Mary McGuinness, M.Ed., PCC is a career transition and shift-it coach based in Chicago, IL USA.
Mary uses visual coaching and design-thinking techniques and practices to accompany her clients on a journey of self-discovery that results in creative solutions, faster results, and happier, more fulfilling careers.  

Mary McGuinness