Clarity or the lack of it
Twice in my life I have suffered from a distinct lack of clarity about the direction of my career. The first time was when I left school with (eventually) 3 “A” Levels and no clue about what I wanted to do with my life. Then again, aged 40-something when I’d resigned after 17 years with the same company.
So, given that I did spend 17 years in my dream job, clearly at some point in my young life I did figure it out. And, now as I’m nearly 4 years into my dream business, I obviously managed to get through the fog again.
So, how did I do it and, more importantly, how can you learn from my experiences?
Well, back when I was 19 years old and clueless, I was working no less than 5 part-time jobs. They were diverse: I worked as a merchandiser in a couple of supermarkets and a cash and carry store. I worked behind the bar in my local pub and as a wine waiter at a very gorgeous, boutique hotel. I had been fitting all these jobs in around my studies and I just carried on. I knew they weren’t jobs that would turn into the successful career that felt so elusive to me but they did keep the wolf from the door.
What I did recognise was that they were all related to “sales.” As a merchandiser, my job was to display the products so that they would sell. As a bar tender, I would encourage my regulars to buy more drinks: “Same again?” / “Usual is it?” And in the hotel, I had my eyes opened to how the other half lived (and spent.) I enjoyed what I did in all these roles and I did the jobs well, often earning more in tips than I did in wages.
These formative years preceded a 5 year stint working in my family’s businesses and then one day it felt like I fell into my dream job in retail. Looking back though, although I was extremely fortuitous to be in the right place at the right time, I can see that all my previous experiences and my willingness to look for opportunities meant that I was destined for a role in retail sales and management.
I’d reached a point where it was very important for me to be paid on merit so the chance to earn commission was wonderful. I’d also had enough of working late nights and of travelling around all the time. A beautiful showroom with a flow of customers through the door felt like a gift. And what they called late night opening? 8pm closing was a breeze after working in pubs and dealing with drunks at kicking-out time.
Without realising it at the time I had focused on doing what I loved (helping customers to buy) and on avoiding what had frustrated me (travelling and late nights.) That’s how I found the clarity I needed to recognise the right opportunity when it presented itself.
What do you love to do? ( I bet you’re really good at it too!)
What frustrates you? (How can you minimise that?)
These two questions were the ones I focused on during the summer of 2013 when I’d taken the plunge and broken free of the golden handcuffs that were holding me in what had been (but no longer was) my dream job. The answers brought me the clarity I needed once again.
I reflected and realised that during my career in furniture retail, I had loved sitting on sofas talking to people. We used to joke that it was the best bit about working in sales! But I enjoyed not only the selling but the coaching of my team members too.
Then I identified that my biggest frustration had been hiring the right people to join my team. I knew that, over the years, I had screened out many potentially great employees because either they sent in a poorly completed application form and didn’t even get an interview or they didn’t perform at their best when they did come to meet us. I always tried to bring the best out of a nervous candidate but hey, if you can’t sell yourself at interview, how can I be sure you can sell my product or services?
So, I realised that the best service I could offer would be to help those potentially good people who simply didn’t know how to sell themselves well on paper, online or in person. And, my business, The Dream Job Coach was born.
My Dream Business
I decided to lead by example and create my own dream business. I was fed up with getting up early and commuting. So, now I wake naturally, walk my dog and eat breakfast with my husband before I do anything else each day. I work flexibly. On a sunny day, I can take my laptop outside. I work with people who want to work with me. That may sound odd but you know the endless flow of customers which once felt like such a gift? Well, generally they were lovely people but well, there’s always one, isn’t there? These days, I get to choose who I work with on a one to one basis and that’s just wonderful.
Employed or Self-Employed?
Some of my clients have clarified (like me) that their dream job is not to have a “job.” – They want to be their own boss. Presently, my client base is a neat 50/50 split of employed career builders / changers and self-employed freelancers and business-owners. Which camp would suit you best, do you think?
If you feel like you’re at a crossroads in your career or business right now, why don’t you simply take a minute or two? Make your favourite drink, find a comfy spot and reflect on those two questions:
What do I love to do?
What frustrates me?
Feel free to share your answers and/or any light-bulb moments in the comments below. It’s always great to hear back from you.
And, if you find yourself going round in circles or getting a bit stuck, you can always book a free Career Clarity Session with me. Take an hour out of your busy life, just for YOU.
If you’re not in your dream job, you’re in someone else’s!
Copyright: Louise Jenner 2017