When I called this venture Step up Create, it was because I wanted to reflect the determination needed to create something. This may be something solid(ish) like a fantastic presentation, a personal brand or a business innovation, but more often than not it’s a personal narrative.
A big chunk of my work this year has been focused on careers training and coaching. Many think, ah that’s all about getting your CV done, maybe with some networking and interviewing techniques thrown in for good measure. You’d be right to a certain extent, but the bit everyone struggles with, is the narrative part of their career: deciding where the actually want to go (and explaining where they’ve been).
We all face this challenge. The typical interview question of “where do you see yourself in five years time” if answered honestly, would almost always solicit a “we’ll actually, I have no idea … maybe doing the same for more money and respect with a better work life balance…”
It’s always easier to stay on the “assembly line”(to leave your career development in the hands of the company you work for) and not dive into something altogether more risky but fulfilling.
Yet things have changed; companies are under pressure, and they will almost always act in their best interests, not yours. (Do you think Google has that amazing workspace for their employees sake? Or is it because in their fast-moving industry they need to win and maintain the very best talent?).
There was a time fairly recently, when you would join a profession or a company and that would be it, a job for life. There was no question of setting up on your own, moving professions or even changing sectors. Now it’s all up for grabs. And so my students often end up faced with the intense burden of choice: an amplified version of going to a restaurant with too much on the menu.
There are many ways I help them with this, from emotional intelligence exercises and self-leadership, through visualizations, frenetic brainstorming, planning (an amalgamation of the best practice of leading thinkers, academics and coaches). Still the one that I’ve found most successful is simply encouraging them to take control of their narrative.
Your life may not have “Game of Thrones” style drama (we can be thankful for that) but you can still shape it as it happens. You can decide what quests your character will go on and what missions you will accept. So, sit down somewhere calm with a notebook and take 15 minutes to write “In five years time I will be…”
It’s just a start, a small attempt to start to take control of your personal narrative, to decide what your story will be. If you don’t decide, you can guarantee it will be decided for you.