Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Clients often come to me with many aspirations. They want to have a challenging and satisfying career. They want to have a positive impact on the world. They want to help others, and they want to make a good income. They want to have career and life balance. They want professional growth and development. Often they want to travel the world. Most of them want to have a family. And oh yes, they want to own a home. A nice home.
I love that enthusiasm! And I do believe they can have it all (with very hard work, naturally!) but just not all at once.
And therein lies the rub. How do you parse what what to do when, and which motivation and value to follow when? That is the tough part.
Let’s begin with breaking it down to key motivations and key drivers or values. Then, let’s see the skills involved in getting there. Then, let’s see the needs one has in one’s life cycle. That is key. Because it is often difficult, for example, to match altruism and the financial backing needed to buy a home and raise a family.
But the fundamental truth I want to impart is this:
You can have it all, only not all at once and not always on the terms you might imagine.
The best way to look at this balancing act of aspirations is to follow someone’s real career.
Mary came to me with a bachelor’s and nursing degree wanting to get a job at a top hospital in San Francisco and see the world. She also wanted to work on her master’s in nursing, and save to buy a home (yes, in pricey SF). She had multiple goals. She also wanted to have a family and stay home with her children for at least a few years.
I suggested we map out a plan for her.
First goal, within the next 3 months was to secure a nursing job in SF. We updated her resume and Linkedin profile, had her research to find available nursing jobs and put her job search first. I advised her not to talk about her further aspirations in the job interview, but focus on the skills, credentials and desire she had to be a nurse and fulfill the requirements as posted in the job. At the three month mark she got her job!
Then, her plan was to give herself a few months to adjust to the new position and do a fine job. Once that happened she looked into the training and development programs the hospital offered and started taking some classes.
After a year, she looked into a master’s program in nursing.
And the last I spoke with her, now 5 years out, she has her master’s and is looking to work overseas. She has postponed her plan for house purchase for another 5 years as working overseas is a priority. She also realizes that San Francisco is a very, very expensive city and she will look to relocate to a less expensive area when it’s time to look toward home purchase. Mary has now met her life partner and realizes that she’d like to take time off from work to raise children. She and her partner have decided to move to a less expensive part of the country as they can’t have the lifestyle they’d want in an expensive city. And they are researching where to move and have already saving for their next stage of life.
Now it’s your turn to plan:
- List your aspirations. Identify the skills, credentials and resources needed for each one.
- Make a life achievement plan. Yes, it might change but anticipate year to year what you’d like to achieve and how you can make it happen
- Be open to change and compromise. Like Mary realizing SF is too expensive a place for her to have the kind of home she’d like.
- Balance out enjoyment of today with goal attainment for tomorrow. Life goes quickly.
Most highly successful people do put together life plans. They realistically consider their goals and map out their steps over time. They are open to compromise, changes and sacrifices today, for reaching tomorrow’s goals.
Remember, you can have it all, just not all at the same time.
Onward in your career and life success, Coach Joan