This past week I was back in the UK to deliver a workshop called Energize Your Career. The aim of this workshop was to provide participants with the building blocks and structure to set goals for themselves and their future careers. The day turned out to be more like an Energize Your Life session!
We started the day discussing the possibilities of what might be their next steps. Yet, giving themselves permission to dream up ideas as to things they might like to do and jobs they might like to try proved somewhat challenging. As children, we often have ideas, thoughts and dreams of what we want to do in our lives, yet somehow, as the years progress, we stop dreaming. We get busy with our lives and our careers and never really stop long enough to ponder … what next? It had been quite some time since they last had taken the time to ponder ‘what next?’.
Sometimes, people might fear the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Rather than experience any potential disappointment, they avoid dreaming and simply carry on doing what they are doing. For those participants who voiced those kinds of thoughts, I encouraged them to explore what small steps they could take today, next week or even next month that would be steps in the direction of one of those dreams. Even if something happened and they had to change direction or change the goal, the journey would have been worth it rather than no action towards any goal.
Another important aspect we talked about was their motivation. When they considered the questions of ‘what difference will it make to your life once you achieve that goal?’ or ‘how will your life change as a result of achieving the goal?’, they gave them more of an incentive to actually go after their goals. By encouraging them to take a bigger picture perspective in their lives surprised some when they gained a sense of what the impact could be for simply pursuing one goal and achieving it. Often times, there are far reaching benefits, more than simply the satisfaction of having achieved the goal.
Although many of us might like if things progressed in a smooth and straight line from the starting point to the end goal, the reality is often much different! There may be twists and turns and perhaps even an indirect route, yet, by taking consistent action, we do get there in the end! In regards to future career goals, we talked about seeking out experiences, both within the workplace and elsewhere, where they could use and develop skills that would be beneficial for the future. This included seeking out opportunities such as special projects, volunteering, community clubs/societies where they could use the skills or have the responsibilities that could help them as a stepping stone towards their dream job.
It was interesting to see as the session progressed, participants started talking about other dreams they have and were considering actually exploring things further. It was great for them to be reminded that a decision to explore a goal, to investigate things further, to see what opportunities might be available does by no means commit them to actually doing it. It is not as if they were ‘signing on the dotted line’ and simply doing some research meant they had to follow through. Yet simply doing the research was an exciting thought that energized them!
Whether the dreams and goals were work related or elsewhere, the energy they would gain could have a positive ripple effect in other areas of their lives. The idea that when they start feeling more positive and energized in one area of their lives, they are likely to feel more positive in other areas too. So, I encouraged them to start take steps, to start taking action and to start following their dreams.
By the end of the workshop, participants left feeling energized to take some concrete actions towards their future goals and their dreams. Some even made arrangements to meet up for a coffee to discuss their goals and their actions so they could support each other as they took those next steps.
When was the last time you reflected on your career and the direction of your life? Are there any changes you might like to explore? How might you feel if you started taking some small steps now towards your dreams? What impact will that positive energy have in other areas of your life?