Throughout our journey of career exploration and development, there tends to be a collective emphasis on traditional methods that are meant to help us achieve a sense of career direction. During the beginning stages of career exploration there is a focus on using self-assessment tools to learn more about likes and dislikes, and reading reliable information to increase career knowledge.
After almost 10 years of being a career counselor, I have learned many people struggle to better understand themselves. This makes career thoughts extremely challenging because understanding who we are is at the foundation of making good career decisions. A big part of what we know about ourselves is better understood by actively engaging in experiences, being present to learn about our innate talents, and sharpening skills, values and interests. Developing self-awareness and a habit of reflection can help train your mind to zero-in on what motivates us and makes us tick.
If you’re not provided with tools to manage your career development in your first few jobs after graduation, it might be hard to continue to access this self-awareness, and your habit of reflection might be something you’ll do…later. The result becomes living on automatic and becoming numb to your experiences — also known as “being stuck.”
Here are a few tips to help you access your inner mentor, challenge your inner critic and become unstuck through your many career transitions:
- Tip #1: It’s important to have mentors to help you process and/or re-frame career decisions, but you should also learn to access your inner mentor. Tara Mohr, author of the book Playing Big: Your Voice, Your Vision, Your Mission, writes about accessing the voice of inner wisdom. Mohr uses a visualization exercise called “future self” with her clients to help them tap into a more positive voice that can help them make decisions that align with our true selves. It’s a visualization worth trying…it may help uncover goals for the future and provide you with a sense of a more fulfilled, authentic self. Mohr writes, “Visualize traveling to earth twenty years in the future. You meet your future self, the woman or man you’d become twenty years from now… What kind of place did you live in? What was your presence like? Have a conversation with this older self. Ask questions like — What do I need to know to get from where I am to where you are? What has been most important about the past twenty years? Then, guide yourself back to the present day.” Download the printable PDF here: Future You Exercise.
- Tip #2: It’s essential to better understand what your inner critic is: the voice of self-doubt. Mohr says the critic often speaks in an anxious, emotionally charged tone and is prone to rumination. A more realistic voice is moving forward, grounded and clear. The inner critic is like a guard at the edge of your comfort zone. Practice quieting your inner critic — turn down the volume. Learn to see that you are not your critical voice; you are the person observing. Read more about the Inner Critic vs. the Realistic Voice.
- Tip #3: Take ownership over your career growth and development. No one else is going to build the life you want for you. As much as it’s helpful to have supportive mentors in your corner, it’s up to you to make the first step toward the career and life you want. There are no guarantees — but you’ll discover your direction through action.