10 Steps to write the next chapter of your career
Sometimes it's a good thing when bad things happen.
Three years ago, I had returned to from maternity to my corporate HR job to later find the business had entered administration. While I wasn't expecting my day job to go away, it didn't take me long to see; it was the steppingstone to the next destination on my career path.
My story of being made redundant has been on my mind lately, as it drove me to take the leap into something I had wanted to do for many years. My hobby and passion have now become my business.
We don’t want others to control our destiny but when you do, you can move forward by visualising and planning the next chapter of your career.
This post will take you through the ten steps I used to map out a new life and career vision to write the best chapter of my life.
Step 1 — Define who you are to find the career you want.
The first time I was made redundant, I was a 34 year old first-time mum, who was just getting into the swing of balancing my corporate role with mummy duties. I was working for a business that I loved, in a role that met all of my career needs. I was therefore so keen to ensure I didn’t just rush to find another job. But the experience forced me to step back to define who I am.
Therefore, I had to ask myself questions like:
What makes me different?
Do I have products or services to offer?
How can I highlight my accomplishments?
Will people benefit from the information I can provide them?
In what ways do I offer value?
These questions helped me understand who I am and what I have to offer to a potential new employer or client. The exercise also helped me develop my personal brand story.
You can create your questions or get in touch to use one of our toolkits.
Step 2 — Mind map your next career.
I am a big fan of capturing ideas in a notebook or as part of mind mapping exercises. I like to use mind maps for everything from career planning to writing. A mind map is a chart that visually displays ideas.
Once you decide which tool to use, here's how mind mapping works:
First, write the topic in the middle of your paper or screen. Draw lines that point away from the middle. Each line expresses one thought or idea related to the subject. Use keywords to write these ideas onto each line. From each line, add more ideas. Don't feel like limiting the number of ideas you add to a mind map. Use pictures, colours, and icons to help bring your map to life. This approach helps to spark new ideas during the brainstorming process.
Step 3 — Use your ideas to map out your vision.
After completing the idea mapping activity, divide your ideas into two groups — short-term and long-term. First, select the ideas you want to pursue. Using a plain notebook, sketchbook, or journal, write a brief description of each idea. Since you are creating your vision, make it as clear, bright, and exciting as you want.
Step 4 — Bring your ideas to life
If you like the idea of having your vision posted on the wall, consider making a vision board. Your vision board should feature keywords and phrases from your idea map like the vision journal.
Don't forget to add your favourite images, quotes, or objects. You can use various pictures like postcards, family photos, and photographs from magazines. Use index cards to write messages.
Step 5 — Start researching the next chapter of your career.
Make a list of all the ideas you want to explore from the mind-mapping exercise. Then, take the ideas you want to research and start listing questions about each idea. The questions you create for each idea should help you find the answers you need. For example, if you see yourself working as a professional writer, ask questions about everything required to begin working as a writer.
Step 6 — Develop the skills you need to succeed.
Once you have your new career vision mapped out and researched, determine what skills you need to succeed. Talk to people who are doing the type of work you see yourself doing in the future. Create a list of the skills required and a timeline.
Step 7 — Build your brand.
Building a personal brand is not optional. It is a strategy for survival. Personal branding, also referred to as personal marketing, helps you to establish your reputation in your industry; promote your experience; stand apart from your competitors; and attract new employer, client, or fan.
In a world of economic uncertainty and job loss, you owe it to yourself to build your brand.
Taking the time to market your know-how and skills will move you closer to the next chapter of your life.
Step 8 — Take your new career vision for a test drive.
As you work to transition to your next chapter, find ways to test your new career vision. Look for opportunities to volunteer, job shadow, or work experience. Use your current job to explore new avenues for your career vision.
While working as a HR Director, I was fortunate to gather a lot of experience. I worked with my professional body to career coach unemployed students. While it wasn't a requirement for my job, I saw it as an opportunity to move in a different direction. As a result, this led me to forming a passion for career coaching, which has now become my business!
Step 9 — Track your progress.
Once you begin to work through your plan, keep track of your progress. Re-evaluate where you are and make changes as necessary. Don't be afraid to switch gears if you don't like something.
Step 10 — Don't lose track of your new strategic vision.
Don't lose track of your vision as you begin to map out the next chapter of your life. For example, if you dream of becoming a Virtual PA, don't get discouraged if you don't have 10 clients lined up. Instead, stay focused on your vision and keep working at it consistently. However, if money is running low, don't be afraid to take a part-time job to pay the bills. The most important thing is to not give up on your dream.
Since my corporate job ended, I have:
Started a HR consultancy business, working with my professional network to land jobs;
partnered with a local entrepreneur to deliver some fantastic management change projects;
established my career coaching company;
supported my husband through furlough, job loss and finding a new career;
and become a mum for the second time!
But none of that would have been possible had I not taken control of writing the next chapter of my life.
And you can too.