For months I’ve been contemplating this big blog post about the importance on setting intentions for guiding your career development and life (without having to rely on coaches and other expensive experts.) After all, I wandered in the wilderness for decades before I got a clue. But the topic of “Career Vision” seems so big, that the blog post just eluded me. Then I watched a TV show.
I was watching The Good Wife* and one of the characters, Will Gardner, was having one of those moments of cluelessness I’d experienced many times. He was lost in his own thoughts trying to think about what to think when Alicia asked if he was ok. He turned to her and said:
When I know what I want, I’m great. When I don’t know what I want, I suck”
OMG. That’s it! That’s exactly how I’d felt all those years. I was achieving great things in some areas, but in others felt completely lost. I had achieved all the family success I could dream of but when it came to my career, I wasn’t networking very effectively inside or outside my companies. Even though I had a huge network, I “sucked” at networking for career advancement because I wasn’t able to explain to others what I thought my own career success looked like. (This wasn’t Will’s problem, by the way. Quite the opposite.)
What do you want?
Even after I went out on my own, this inability to be very specific about my career goals hindered me in landing new business, investing in my own development and feeling accomplished when I did achieve many of my goals. Even when everyone looked at me and thought I was very successful (which I was), I didn’t always feel all that successful because I didn’t feel directed.
Then I started working with intentions and things started to make sense. Intentions helped me get clearer on what I wanted. I got a lot better at focusing my own energies and talking to other people about my objectives so they could help me. I felt like “I sucked” less often. As I introduced my coaching clients to Intentions, they used them for all kinds of things I hadn’t thought of, like describing their work-life balance needs and dream jobs. Over the years intentions have helped my clients achieve more, too. What I learned during that time was how critical it is to crystalize and express your goals holistically. If you leave your goals floating without form in your head, they tend to stay in your head and manifest much less often in your life.
But the question that Will, and I (and probably you) so often wrestle with is, “What do you want?”
Work and life are blended and play off each other
One of my big ahas while refining the kind of career-life intentions that I work with clients on today was in noticing that when I compartmentalized my career goals as separate from my life goals, both got harder to achieve. I had fallen victim to the “have it all” mentality that exhausts so many women (and parents, really). Instead of looking at how I could develop career and life intentions that complimented each other, my work and life goals competed with each other. So I mashed together “what I wanted” through a process of evaluating both my career and life goals as distinct but related. The tool I give my clients now helps them review “where they are and what they want” along both areas and then guides them in developing Career-Life intentions together, but as distinct. For many, looking at these buckets as closely related but separate helps them break the log jam of “should I focus on my work or my life?” and move forward with confidence and clarity.
In reality, we’re always tweaking, evolving and second-guessing our goals as we make progress towards them but I finally feel like I don’t suck at it any more. And that’s a big relief.
What about you? Do you have a clear view of how your career and life are coming together? Or how you want them to in the years ahead? Don’t stumble around in the dark like I did. Set your intention to get a career plan that respects your life, and visa versa. Learn more about how InPower Coaching can help.
*I started watching The Good Wife on a whim. I don’t want much TV at all, but I was bored one night and there it was. I have to say I’m really enjoying it not only because it’s a good show, but because it offers a really interesting view of a white collar working woman’s challenges with sexism. I find that the gender dynamics presented on the show are pretty true-to-life in my experience. By the way I’m only in Season 2 so please no spoilers for whether Will ever gets his act together. I already stumbled over one spoiler on Google that made me heartsick—so no more spoilers!
Take charge of your career development to get the job that supports your work and your life. Check out the tools and resources in the InPower Coaching Career Center.