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Lessons from your past


Do you want to learn how to be happier at work?

This week I'm going to share with you one of the most impactful exercises I do with clients. It's something that I learned when I was completing my coach's training in 2016. In those days, I did all my coaching "in person" and this exercise was kinaesthetic, where I'd get the client to literally walk up and down their career timeline. These days, though, things are more virtual and it's easier and quicker to get clients to draw their timeline.

At the end of this email is a link to watch the career timeline video (and see mine in action) so that you can create your own career timeline. Before you do that though, here are some of the things that I've learned by doing this exercise myself and with clients.

Connection is key

The adage "you don't leave a job, you leave a line manager" is well and truly borne out in my experience of careers. So many of our career mishaps, mis-steps and re-routes are due to a relationship not being good or turning sour.

I've experienced a smattering of bad relationships over the years - from the manager who refused to financially recognise my contribution so I left the job, to the manager who was so inept at communication we irrevocably fell out with negative business implications.

But, I've also happily had many, many brilliant relationships at work with line managers, peers and team members. In fact, a lot of my closest friends are work connections.

The difficulty is that, when you have a bad relationship at work, it can colour the whole scenario so it can be hard to work out the true source of your pain.

Stretch yourself

I can also see in my timeline, and that of others, that moments when we are stretched and learning new things are among the most rewarding in our careers. Stagnating and getting bored are almost always low points for people.

I think when we are younger and starting out in our careers, we foresee an upward trajectory when we learn everything we need to learn and then we "arrive", a fully formed and experienced professional with nothing more to learn. Not true, thank goodness!!

Towards the end of my corporate career, I was trying to find what would truly light me up and failing. It was being in roles that didn't stretch me enough that kept me moving on to try something new. Until I found coaching and being a business owner which stretch me every day of the week!

Perspective is everything

I think that everyone should have access to career coaching from when they start work right up until they retire and beyond. Without an opportunity to step back and look at things as they really are, it's almost impossible to get perspective and take the right path.

Creating your own career timeline enables you to spot clues and consistent themes in your career. What made the highs so amazing and, equally, what made the lows so horrible?

With the benefit of hindsight, you can make decisions about your future career that will enhance what you do from now on. Ready to have a go? Download the video here and create your own career timeline. Let me know what you learn about yourself!

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