“My Career Is All Over the Place” – That’s OK.

Career Confusion Maze

Is it a messy maze or is it a beautiful image when seen from above? I see the beauty.

I hear this a lot: “My career is all over the place so how do I find my next step?”

The good news: Everyone has a messy career path. Life is messy, at best. You’re not alone.

The bad news: It’s still confusing in there and you’re still needing to find your way in a dark confusing maze.

More good news: You can get help to find your way through the maze. There are people with lanterns and maps to turn to. And people who can see the big picture from above the maze. Really.

My So-Called Messy Career Path

In my own experience, I thought I was “all over the place” too. I didn’t want anyone to see that wacky résumé. On some level, with each turn, it did make sense to me, because I was following what was in front of me. But I thought that picture of “meandering” would look funny to others.

In reality, people never seemed to care about all those so-called turns on my résumé, and it wasn’t a roadblock for new jobs. I couldn’t see the thread connecting the dots, but I see now that it was there. Maybe it was the exact path I needed to end up helping people with career clarity, since I’ve dabbled in many areas. It wasn’t simple and it was confusing at times for sure, but the path had a purpose, it turned out.

“What Can Help Me Find My Way?”

Just using exercises in a book or a quiz online is not enough for something like deep clarity and choosing your own specific steps on where you want to go in life. You wouldn’t be reading this if you could have figured it out on your own.

Most people can’t figure it out alone. It’s like a fish who doesn’t see the water she’s swimming in, but the water is obvious to us as outsiders. Funny how that works. A little help goes a long way, and seeing what’s right there can bring huge relief. Continue reading

Informational Interviews for Introverts: A Cheat Sheet

Dear Val:
“I hear informational interviews are important so I can explore career and business ideas, but how does that work? Huh? What? Who do I ask? What do I say? They’ll think I’m weird…”
~from almost every introvert I talk to (at first)

Yes, asking people questions about their path is such a helpful step in finding your own path. And yet, it seems awkward, at first, for many introverts.

Informational interviews are good for when you’re exploring career ideas, business ideas, new niche ideas for your business, retirement ideas, and more. There’s so much gold in there.

I hate seeing so many people get stuck on this step. Let’s make this simple, right here and now.

There are particular concerns that I notice introverts raise about informational interviews. Do you recognize these?

  1. Won’t I be bothering the person if I ask them to speak with me?
  2. How can I find people to interview?
  3. I can’t just cold call some stranger I found online!
  4. I don’t know what to ask. I’ll be tongue-tied.
  5. I don’t know enough about the field to ask good questions. I’ll sound stupid.
  6. I don’t know what I’m planning to do yet, so I’ll seem unfocused.
  7. Is it a call, a lunch invitation, what? What’s the etiquette?

First I’ll give my short answer to each of those classic concerns, then I’ll elaborate and give you some basic steps including what to ask.

Elephants showing us an informational interview

It could be as sweet and simple as this.

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Self-employment Myths and Reality. It’s OK To Be Wobbly.

When the topic of self-employment comes up, I hear two common responses:

  1. “That’s too hard so I won’t even try.” or
  2. “I should be able to get something going within a few months, or else it’s a failure.”

Neither is grounded in reality. There’s such an odd mythology around self-employment, perhaps because people don’t talk about what goes on behind closed doors.

Here’s what I think is true about self-employment, in a nutshell.

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What If You Don’t Know What You Want?

I’m realizing how common it is for people to think there’s something wrong with them if they don’t know what they want, in their work, their business, or their life.

I often hear things like this:

  • “I don’t have a clear goal or vision for my future, so I might be a hopeless case.”
  • “Other people just know what they want, but I’m not one of those people.”
  • “I’m trying to be self-employed but really I need to figure out what I actually like.”

I feel sad when someone thinks she is “a hopeless case.” In reality, lack of clarity on what you want is super common. It’s probably the norm!

But then, what to do?

[image - looking out wondering] Continue reading

Best Careers for Introverts, HSPs, and Other Sensitive Souls

Sensitive souls (including introverts, highly sensitive persons [HSPs], and people with big hearts) need to be careful about our work environments and career paths. We can really thrive and excel in the right environment, and we can wilt easily in the wrong environment.

If you have a yuck feeling about work, I bet it is because the work itself or the work culture are a bad match for you. You have so much to offer. Yes, YOU. The world needs your gifts. I mean it. You can find a better fit. Not overnight, but a better way is possible.

There are low stress jobs for introverts, HSPs, and other sensitive souls.

No, there are no perfect stress free professions. But lower stress is definitely a worthy goal. Yes! Stress is a natural part of life, and we can learn to reduce the challenge of it, but often we simply put up with far too much of it, so that’s what I’m talking about reducing today.

My experience:

I’m a highly sensitive introvert with a big heart. (If you’re a Myers-Briggs Type fan, I’m an INFP which explains a whole range of sensitivity.)

I’ve tried all kinds of work environments from classrooms to cubicles, and many kinds of careers, and there were many rough patches in my work life. Now I have landed happily with being a self-employed coach.

In those various work experiences, sometimes I felt alive and energized and sometimes completely drained and MISERABLE. Oh I can feel the bad memories in my body as I write this. I want to reach out to you if you’re feeling that misery and beg you to believe it can be different.

Now I get what works:

I’ve studied what factors work for me and what works for others with a similar temperament.  Now I can fairly easily tell you what is important for us in choosing our work environments and career paths. Work can feel great, really! I’ll explain what you need to know.

[image - wondering where to go]

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