Anne Bryant, MA, LPC www.annebryantcounseling.com email@example.com 503-442-6392 Anne has thirty years of experience offering practical skills and support to people experiencing transitions in their careers and personal lives. Openings available for individual and group sessions.
Down-Shifting: 4 Lessons from a Career Counselor and Marketing Coach
Vicki Lind is a co-founder of Career Transitions: The Inside Job, and due to a recent shift in her priorities, she is creating the next chapter in her own career which leads her away from our blog. To glean some useful lessons from a career professional making her own transition, I decided to interview Vicki. She agreed to share what was going on for her more than three years ago when the blog was born, and to talk about what has changed since then.
In 2010 Vicki wondered how to be more creative in her work. Part of her practice is offering a coaching group for creatives, whom she defines as “designers, fine artists, web and new media professionals, writers, and entrepreneurs,” as well as freelancers. In order to stay current for her clients, she learned all she could about blogs, and became intrigued with the idea of contributing to a blog herself. Vicki and another contributor, Gail Nicholson, had already collaborated on a book, Portland Networking Guide to Green Careers and Jobs. Another contributor, Bruce Hazen, was in the process of writing Answering The Three Career Questions: Your Lifetime Career Management System. They invited me to a brainstorm session over pizza, and out of that meeting emerged the title of Career Transitions The Inside Job. http://ccppblog.wordpress.com/about/ Vicki liked the notion of inspired, seasoned career professionals generating intellectual stimulation on a rotating schedule. She didn’t want to produce all the ideas for blog entries herself, or the time pressure of frequent postings. She credits Gail’s enthusiasm for the momentum to begin. Looking back over the past three years, these are some lessons from Vicki’s current transition.
Lesson 1: Acknowledge your strengths and gaps. Vicki knows that her strengths lie in being innovative, creative, and supportive of others’ original ideas. She really enjoys mentoring young professionals in her practice, a benefit of her long career helping others. She especially feels rewarded by championing the next generation as she nears retirement age. Vicki has a solid marketing background and knows that she dislikes administrative tasks and follow through on details, which she calls “administrivia”. I don’t like the label ‘weakness’, which I believe leads us to feel embarrassed and less likely to ask for help. I prefer the term ‘gaps’; Vicki has filled the ‘administrivia’ gap by hiring help. If you are really honest with yourself, what are some necessary tasks that you either dislike or know you do poorly?
Lesson 2: Search your environment for help to fill in the gaps. You are not likely to accomplish your goals unless you are willing to recognize that you might have to ask for help sometimes. Occasionally my clients believe that because they are reasonably smart, they should know how to plan their careers. Yet how many of us ever learned exactly how that works? Sometimes the advice of family and friends may be helpful, but if not, taking a career development class or seeking the help of a career professional would benefit you. Usually outsiders are more able to be objective, and we have several methods and resources to help you explore all of your options.
Perhaps your gap is in some other area, such as needing help with using or fixing your computer. Who do you know who is good with these tasks that might be interested in negotiating a trade? If you can’t afford to hire someone, maybe you could offer to teach that person to cook or barter your woodworking skills for computer help. Think creatively about how to access the resources you need if money is tight.
Lesson 3: Clarify your current values, goals and priorities. Vicki began her private practice at the age of 55 with the awareness that if we are fortunate then we can scale back our work load if life circumstances or age intervene. The down side of this is that is we sometimes experience an ebb of clients just as we need a flow of cash (during the recession, for example). In response to some events in Vicki’s personal life last year, she took stock of what was contributing to burn out and made some decisions:
- Conserve energy for focus on professional activities directly related to generating income
- Continue to seek support with “administrivia”
- Work less, play more
- Spend time with grand daughter
- Focus on spiritual life, creative hobbies, and self-expression
- Incorporate regular exercise
Lesson 4: Take stock and allow yourself to feel satisfied with all you have accomplished. Right from the beginning of our blog, Vicki noticed that we were filling a gap that we hadn’t known about. Although all of the blog writers belong to an informal group of Career Professionals in Private Practice in Portland (CCPP), we didn’t have a written forum for ideas. As soon as the bloggers began meeting, we formed a tight community, and our quarterly potluck discussions are inspiring, fruitful, and funny. A byproduct of this practice of brainstorming and editing each other’s work has been an endeavor to become better writers. Vicki told me that although she is not going to be publishing with us, she is more than satisfied to have been part of this writing legacy.
As I was interviewing Vicki, we took a closer look at how she is aligning her time and energy to be congruent with her changing values and priorities. She was reminded of a quote by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver.