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Turn detective and create a career you love


Do you love detective fiction?  I do.  Particularly the classic detective fiction of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.  One of my coaching buddies calls me the “detective” – think of (a younger) Miss Marple.  This is because one of the things I love doing as a coach is looking for clues - i.e. spotting common patterns in what people say and do that could give a clue as to what they really want in their life and career.  And that is why I love the second step of D.R.E.A.M pathway.

In last week’s email, I wrote about the first step “D” of the D.R.E.A.M pathway – Discovery.  This week we are looking at step 2, which is the “R” and the “E” – Research & Explore.  This is where you can take on the mantle of Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes and have some fun researching different career possibilities and looking for clues as to what type of careers might light you up.

This week I want to share my secret tip with you about this step: don’t reject any career possibilities, no matter how wild and wacky, without examining them very closely first.  Remember, you’re looking for clues.  Let me explain.

Let’s gather the facts

Good detectives sometimes make assumptions, but they make sure that they have all the facts before they do so.  To successfully navigate the D.R.E.A.M pathway, you really need to research your career possibilities thoroughly.  The best way to do this is simple: talk to people who do this job.   That’s right Miss Marple, you need to INTERVIEW THE WITNESS. 

Quite simply set up a call with the person that does your dream job and ask:  What does it entail?  What training do you need?  What do you love and hate about it?  How did you get into it?  What could I be doing now to help me move towards it?  Who else should I be talking to?

Now, you might feel shy, but people are always really happy to help when you reach out.  Here’s what happened to me when I reached out to the person doing my dream job (Jenny Walters, Features Editor of Country Walking magazine):

My email:

Hi Jenny

I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while as you have my dream job and I’d love to know more about it…  Before I sound completely “stalker-ish”, let me explain!

I am a career coach and I help people create a career they love.  I’m often working with mid-career people who have built a career over 10, 15, 20 years and then woken up one morning and thought “Aaagh!  I hate my job, but I don’t know what else to do…”.  Part of the exploratory process involves them coming up with “career possibilities”, without putting any constraints on how wild and wacky they want to be.  At this point, one of the questions I ask is “Who has a job that you secretly covet?”.  Well, for me, it’s you!

I’ve subscribed to Country Walking magazine for well over 10 years and have always thought …  “Wow.  Jenny has a great job – walking, writing …”.  So, I’m taking my own medicine as I always encourage my clients to find out more about that person and that job, even if they don’t intend to do that job right now (which I don’t).

So, would you be ever so generous and have a Zoom coffee with me some time?  I’d love to find out how you got into what you do and what your job really entails.  Just half an hour?

Let me know.  It would be extremely kind; I’d be completely fascinated, and I’d have a great story to inspire my clients ??

All the best for now, Ali

Jenny’s response:

Hi Ali,

Many thanks for your lovely email and I’d be very happy to have a Zoom coffee sometime! I do love my job so I’m always happy to talk about it (and I like the sound of your job too – it must be so satisfying to help people move into more rewarding careers). How about Monday next week? Would 10am suit?

Best wishes,

But that’s never going to happen!

Now that you have all the FACTS, you have to get into the deductive mindset of the Detective and make sure you examine everything before coming to a conclusion.  Let me explain.

A client recently joked to me “I’d love to teach surfing but that’s never going to happen”.  That’s when my detective nose starts to twitch. 

In order to make sure we come to the correct conclusion, I ask three crucial questions.

Question 1:

Why do you say that is never going to happen?  What is getting in the way – real barriers or perceived barriers?  Very often we can come up with excuses like … “I won’t earn enough money”, “I’d have to move to the beach”, “I’d need to retrain”.    Are these excuses true?  Turn the magnifying glass back on yourself – what is really holding you back?  It could be imposter syndrome, procrastination, fear of the unknown, status quo bias, risk aversion and a myriad of other limiting beliefs that we all hold.

Question 2:

OK, so if it’s unrealistic to make that happen right now, could it happen later?  What do you need to set in train now to make that happen further down the line?  It might be time to put an action plan in place to make that happen (now we’re getting to “A” and “M” in the D.R.E.A.M pathway!).

Question 3:

If you’re really never going to teach surfing, what is it about that job that attracts you?  THIS is where your deerstalker or twin-set detective ensemble can really get to work.  LOOK FOR CLUES.  Perhaps it’s the freedom?  Perhaps it’s interacting with people?   Perhaps it’s teaching someone a skill?  Perhaps it’s always sporting a great suntan?  Whatever it is, can you bring more of those elements into your current career?

What now?

I hope that’s given you a bit of inspiration to do some of your own detective work.  Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is your dream job OR who has a job you covet?
  • How can you find out more about what that job entails?
  • Who can help?
  • What is stopping you from doing this dream job right now or in the future?
  • Are those reasons true?
  • What else is getting in your way?
  • What are all the elements of that dream job that make it so attractive (list as many as possible)?
  • How can I bring more of those elements into what I do now?

As ever, let me know what ideas these questions spark for you.  Happy detecting!

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