Ep. 106 Defining your career ambitions

define career ambitions

In today’s episode, Anna looks at how to come up with a list of objective criteria to help you define your career ambitions.

When you’re considering your next career move, it’s very easy to get swayed by what other people are saying or doing; to get overwhelmed by all the different options; and to struggle to make an objective decision. In my experience, I’ve found that the best way to assess different options and opportunities that come your way (and to create your own opportunities) is to define criteria to help you make the right decision.

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside



Defining your career ambitions


Hello, hello everyone and welcome back to the podcast. Now, we have been looking at leaving the 9 to 5, and last week we looked at, if we want to make this happen, if you want to change direction in our career, leave our role as a full-time employee and really explore what it might look like to work for ourselves, run our own business in 2021 – because we are coming to the end of the year now – then what should we be doing? Do have a listen to that last week. We’re going to be shifting gears a little bit because since we are coming to the end of the year, and it’s the beginning of the year, of course, we get into new year’s resolution territory.

Now, if you know me at all, and you’ll certainly be hearing this in the coming weeks, I’m not a fan necessarily of resolutions, and I have a slightly different approach when it comes to setting goals for the new year and we’ll be looking at that soon. But I thought just to transition into that, I wanted to talk to you about: so we want to make this transition, we’re looking for some kind of different role, business and so on. What could be a useful way in which we really make this concrete?

The reality is we’re always going to be bombarded, I almost want to say, and it’s a good problem, bombarded with different ideas, different suggestions, and requests, and perhaps recruiters will come to us. Certainly, so the experience I had when I first left my job was – and I wasn’t very clear on what I wanted to do, which is always a bit of a dangerous territory – it’s very easy to be swayed by other people.

You have a coffee with someone, Oh, they’re doing this. Maybe I should do that too, or hey, can you help me out with this? And then you get involved in someone else’s project, which could be exciting and interesting to learn different things. And of course, it’s a good way to hit the ground running, but it’s not necessarily what you want to do. And then recruiters, by definition, are always going to put you into a pigeon hole, a black box, I want to say, at least to put you into a very clear square hole of this is your exact background. And I’m going to put you into the same role now going forwards. A recruiter and HR manager is not going to help you generally to navigate this transition into a different role where you’re doing completely different things or using different skills, you’re evolving your experience. And certainly, of course, they’re not going to come and present you with your ideal business.

So all that to say that something that I use with my clients and that I always recommend that you do is to look at your criteria or your parameters for the transition.

Now, I’m sure I’ve shared this before and I’ll call out my manager again, Vincenzi, from my very first job in the corporate world. And he talked about when we change assignments to really think about, what are your non-negotiable criteria, your top three, one, two, three, because you can’t demand or maybe you can, if you’re very optimistic and idealistic, you can’t demand that I want to have a role in New York and I want it to be in this department and on this brand. Then I want a promotion, et cetera. You need to be clear.

At the time, I had colleagues who maybe had their boyfriend or girlfriend back home in England. So one of their top criteria then was to have a role in the UK. you might then need to compromise on the brands that are available there, the roles that are available or now, I’m really ready for my promotion. well, you need to take these steps to get yourself into the right position. So, that was a really useful framework. And again, it’s something I use now, whether you’re changing career into a different role, industry, company, or you’re wanting to start a business. And in either of those scenarios, having these criteria clear in your mind, having the parameters are really important and useful.

What kind of things should we be considering when we’re looking at our criteria?

Well, I want to keep it quite practical and specific. Nonetheless, I do like to start with, are there any really important more subjective ideas for what your next role should be? So, for example, and you might want to grab a pen and paper, by the way, maybe listen to this again, if you want to really use this as an active session, if you’re listening, when you can’t write anything, then don’t worry, you can pause and come back later or listen again, just let the words wash, wash, or waft over you for now.

So really, I like to talk about ikigai and I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about this before. And if not, there’s this Japanese idea often depicted as a Venn diagram of work that you really are good at, that you really enjoy, that feels meaningful to you, that the world needs where you’re already making a difference and that you can monetize. That’s going to pay you. So depending on where you are on that diagram today, and for example, those of us in a corporate job, or often in, I’m good at this, I’m getting paid, but I don’t love it and it doesn’t feel meaningful to me. Depending on where you are today, you can then think what’s the priority for where I want to be in my next role in the business?

So it could be, you know what, I’m earning quite a bit of money and I’m really good at this. However, my next role really has to be something I love doing or my next role, my next business has to be something that I feel is aligned with my values, where I feel I’m making a meaningful contribution. That’s really tied to this cause or mission that I believe in. On the other hand, perhaps you are working in an area where really you do believe in what you’re doing and it’s something you’re so passionate about. You love it. However, you’re not earning lots of money in which case, maybe the next role, the next stage of your business needs to be much more focused on bringing in that money.

So that is a first step, I guess, of coming up with your parameters. Is there a general direction of your ikigai as it were that you need to take this next role, this next business?

Is it that you want to be doing more meaningful work or are you already doing meaningful work and you want more money? Really think about what’s the priority in this next phase. So that could be the first set of criteria in terms of the next role has to be me using these skills. It has to be something I’m going to enjoy. It has to be exciting and it has to be something and it is quite subjective that feels meaningful, that I really feel like I’m making a difference that’s tied to this cause of women’s rights or empowerment of young girls, those are things that come to mind for me or whatever the passionate topic and cause that you really want to get involved in climate change and so on.

So number one, the direction of ikigai. Now, number two could be more preferences and this is important then to understand what your preferences are. So for example, thinking of the work you’ve done so far, do you enjoy being in an office maybe through, as I record this, a lot of you’ve been working from home anyway. So do you prefer being at home? Do you like working by yourself at the desk or do you prefer being out and about literally out on the streets or out meeting clients, hustling away on the phone all the time? Do you like to work in an intimate setting where you’re really getting deep with somebody one-to-one, one to a small group? Would you love the buzz of being on a stage or on camera in front of lots of people and you like to field questions from all different directions and you like to almost do a bit more surface help or whatever it is that you’re doing with a lot of people?

What office environment do you really bounce off the team or again, do you do work better and by yourself? So really think about the environments and your preferences of how you like to work virtually or in-person, alone or in a team, individually, in a group, in a massive group and so on. So maybe live or recorded is some more concrete things to think about in terms of the content and maybe courses and programmes you do. Maybe, thinking of myself as a coach or a consultant, do I prefer to work, I want to have five really high-level clients that I work with. It’s going to cost a lot of money, six figures each, and we’re going to work at least for a year. I’ll be pretty much always available, of course, while setting boundaries and having priorities in terms of self-care and not being on call 24 /7.

But I’m going to really show up and over deliver and be your partner. We’re going to literally link arms and do this together. And I’m going to work with VIP clients that are high end, but just a handful of you or do I actually want to reach more people? And I’d rather do a case slightly less deep because, of course, you can’t commit to that many people at that high level, obviously then charging a little less still charging well for the quality and from your worth and so on. And then I’d be working maybe in group programmes or smaller intimate masterminds. And maybe it’s combination of the two, probably most likely for me.

But really thinking about, what does that look like for you? Do you want to have six-month engagements, one-off projects? You actually just like coming in, you do your thing and then you come away? Do you like to actually, no, I’d prefer to work, ongoing and pretty much full-time with somebody for a longer time, or actually I’m going to have a few kinds, et cetera. There’s a whole host of infinite possibilities in terms of different constellation of how you might to work together or not together by yourself.

So, travelling to client’s offices or not, obviously again, through the lens of what’s been happening in the world now, virtual does have a lot of advantages. So that’s something that probably should at least be part of the strategy. But in terms of criteria, again, really think of, what is the setup? What’s the office environment. Do I want to be travelling and so on? And that, in fact, leads to the third bucket. So we talked the ikigai, the general big picture direction. Then we talk your preferences.

The third one then is practical considerations.

And this is linked to preferences, but it’s even more important in a way because it’s not just, Oh, I’d like to work in a group where I thrive when I’m in a team or I work better by myself. It’s really, no, I need to earn this amount in order to put my kids through private school, to be able to take the holidays. I want to do to support my ageing parents, your children, dog, whatever. I need to be able to pay the bills. What are your practical considerations?

And number one probably is going to be salary. If you’re leaving a corporate job to work for yourself, then you don’t have to give up your salary. You might want to earn more. You might want to earn less and that’s fine, but get clear on what that number is so that you know that’s really non-negotiable. So salary. Maybe again, timing when you’re going to work, when you’re not going to work is really important. So your schedule, is it three days a week you want to be working? Is it only mornings? You don’t want to work Fridays. You want to be able to pick up the kids from school. You actually don’t mind working evenings and weekends, but you don’t want to get up early in the morning. What does that look like? Do you want to stick to the classic Monday to Friday? Because that works quite well for you. Who knows? So really, think about your schedule and the flexibility there as well.

Location, of course, you want to work from home. And again, this is something I talked about in terms of your preferences, but is it a non-negotiable because actually, you need to be available at home. You need to have that flexibility to be better for your kids or whatever that is. So what are the really important practical considerations in terms of salary, in terms of location, maybe you can’t commute or you, in fact, can’t sit in an office because maybe of your health? Maybe you have back problems or whatever that might be, or you can’t sit in front of a screen all the time.

So really think about all the practical considerations. And I’ve mentioned the word non-negotiable there a few times and that’s really the next step. So by the way, and I’ve gone through this quite quickly. There may be many other areas you want to consider. So the point here is to consider everything that is important in making this decision for you or making a decision or many decisions in the coming weeks, months, if not years. So think about the big picture ikigai, is it that I’m looking for purpose right now? Am I looking for passion? Am I looking for money? Am I looking to use a different skillset? Whatever that looks like. Number one, bucket of criteria.

Number two, what’s in my preferences? So how do I want to work? Where?

With whom and what kind of environment in form I don’t want to be teaching, don’t want to be advising, don’t want to be partnering with people, don’t want to be doing the work myself, coaching, there all sorts of different dynamics we could have. And then finally, number three is those practical considerations; salary, location, commute, travel, and so on. So really important. Now, again, I mentioned non-negotiable and I like to dial it into three. So once you’ve got all these things and maybe you’ve done a mind map, hopefully, you’ve jotted these down, you’ve got a long list. You might want to take either three different coloured pens or go one, two, three. So one is non-negotiable. Two is important, but could be compromised? And three is, Oh, nice to have, I’d love that, but maybe it’s not necessary.

So non-negotiable is really probably going to be, I need to have, at least this month, minimum salary. I can’t work more than X hours a day. I don’t want the commute to be longer than this or whatever that is. The important could be, I really want to love the work I’m doing, make a difference. And by the way, that could also be a non-negotiable for you. So just you’d get to decide where this sits in the hierarchy. And then nice to have, really thinking about, I would love to be able to do X, Y, Z, but perhaps it’s not possible in the short term, don’t give up yet. It is still possible for the future.

But for now, at least for my next role, for my early stage of my business, this isn’t going to be a non-negotiable, it’s going to be, Oh, I’d love it if I could work by the sea or if I could, I don’t know, work with this type of clients and so on. I think that’s really important. In fact, probably important, more than nice to have even, but not necessarily non-negotiable. But again, completely up to you. And that’s the point.

So why is this so powerful? And hopefully, you’ll see this. Well, again, people will come at you and it might sound surprising when you’re on the side of fear and worrying about work and so on. It’s a good problem to have. Again, there will be opportunities and ideas and projects coming at you, and rather than being torn in a million different directions and concerned, do I take this? Do I take that? And so on, unfortunately, we’re never going to have complete information of every possible dimension and parallel dimension.

We don’t have all the offers on the table at the same time either. So I might have something today and then I’ll get something in three weeks. I might get something in six months and I can’t compare them at the same time. So when these ideas, when these projects or suggestions come along, I can refer to my criteria. And literally, you can take care of that piece of paper. If it’s a post-it or a document, a checklist almost, you can do it as advanced or as informed as you’d like. You can really go, this particular role or idea that I have or suggestion that someone else has had proposal, whatever, it actually takes my non-negotiable and a few of my important.

So yes, actually, it wasn’t quite what I thought, but hey, it’s a really good step in the right direction or, no, not at all. Yes, it’s a lot of money, but no, it’s not actually. I was looking for meaning. I was looking for flexibility of my family. I was looking for X, Y, Z and that’s not a fit at all. So it takes a little bit of the emotion and the subjectivity out of these decisions. It gives you some parameters, checklists, to be able to measure as much as we can ever imagine these decisions.

And by the way, the criteria don’t have to be really concrete and tangible. There could also be a little bit subjective.

So it could be my gut feeling is positive, or I feel instinctively that it’s something I want to do. That’s harder to judge, but it probably should be on that list. It’s a really important one too. So there you go. Again, three buckets of criteria, really big picture ikigai. Is it meaning? Is it the skills? Is it the passion? Is it the money that you’re after? General direction, big theme of this next role, this next stage of your life and we will be talking about the theme for the new year as well, very soon.

So what’s that theme, what’s the general direction? Secondly, what preferences do you have? And that will help you, again, the environment in which you thrive and where you really want to be adding value and where you can add the most value and how. And then finally, again, those practical considerations, probably salary, income, and physical location, and commute and so on. And then again, mark them, non-negotiable important and nice to have, and then use it.

Don’t let this be something else that you put into your drawer Really look at that and use it actively. You don’t have to share it. You probably shouldn’t share it with the recruiter necessarily, or the friend of yours who’s coming with a project and said, “No, I’m so sorry that doesn’t take my non-negotiable criteria here.” But certainly, it’s something you can use behind the scenes. And by all means, agree those parameters with your partner. If you’ve got to hold children, run it by a coach or a mentor and check, am I being overly ambitious? Am I actually being too cynical and holding myself back, but really try to get to a good place where you’re really clear on, but what am I actually after? What is my definition of success right now for the short term and of course longer term as well?

So, hey, that’s useful. If you haven’t thought about it this way before, I hope you can try to get your mind around getting those parameters and criteria more clear in your mind rather than going, is it this role or that role? Is it this type of business or that type of business and getting caught up in the details of that already, before you even know the parameters with which you want to make the decision?

So hopefully that’s useful to you, best of luck and I look forward to hearing how you get on. I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Up-level with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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