Confession time: I’m a sucker for news about celebrities, aka gossip. When I need a break I click over to people.com or eonline.com and glance through the latest info.
There’s lots of annoying information on these sites, but what cracks me up the most are those bits of non-news. So-and-so is not dating George Clooney. Brad Pitt has not been cast as the new Batman. There’s a very long list of people who George Clooney is not dating (which unfortunately includes me), and just as long a list of people who have not been cast as the new Batman (which fortunately does include George Clooney). The real news would be who is George Clooney dating (He appears to be in between.) and who is the new Batman (Ben Affleck).
I hear the same non-answers when I ask clients what they’re looking for in their next job. There’s a long list of things they don’t want. There’s nothing wrong with that as a first step. We often begin to see what we want by contrasting it against what we don’t want. But it can’t be the only step in the process and here’s why: the list of what we don’t want is the list of what’s familiar.
As with anything in life, you won’t be able to find or create what you want if you can’t describe it. You need to be clear, and the more clarity you have, the more likely you are to get the outcome of your dreams.
Getting clarity is a process. Your vision will evolve over time with experience and reflection. If you want to make a change or have something new or different in your life, you’re stepping into uncharted territory. You need to have a map.
Here are 3 exercises to help you gain clarity:
Start with ‘why.’ I have a client who takes care of an elderly and ill parent. Her surface level answer to why she’s working is that she needs the money so she can financially support her family. Digging deeper she realizes she wants to make a positive contribution towards a successful outcome, which is something she doesn’t feel with her family situation. She doesn’t have that kind of job right now, and she’s beginning to see the gap between where she is and what she wants and needs.
Describe it in detail. One of the first exercises in almost any coaching program is to write out a detailed description of your ideal day – where are you living, what does your house look like, what do you look like, who are you with, etc. It’s done so often because it works. You can do the same thing with your job. Let your dream genie out of the bottle and don’t be afraid to think big. If you’re feeling stuck, just start writing. You’ll discover something new about yourself. Perhaps you never thought about running your own company, but for some reason that’s what’s coming up. Or managing people, or not managing people. Don’t dismiss these thoughts. There’s something there to explore.
How do you want to feel? For many people this gets to what motivates them. Are you curious, do you like to learn new things? Do you love the satisfaction of working on complex problems? I traveled last week and got intrigued by an article in the US Airways magazine that profiled the group that does all of the airplane scheduling. They need to keep track of each airplane, where it is, how many miles it’s flown, it’s maintenance schedule and lots of other information. If a plane unexpectedly needs maintenance, they need to get another airplane to cover those routes. I kept thinking, I’d love that job! I’d love that job because I love solving puzzles, and this seemed like one big, multi-dimensional puzzle.
Invest the time to get clear on what you want. That investment will pay off big time.