Advice on finding your path from career coach Lindsay GordonFeatured

People look at you like you’ve gone crazy when you say you’re leaving Google. But when I told them I'd left Google to run my own business, I started getting a different response. Their eyes glazed over, they got a huge smile on their face and they said, "Wow, how cool that you quit your job to pursue your passion!" I have to tell you, I hate that version of the story. It's such an oversimplification that doesn't talk about any of the ups and downs of finding work that fits. It glosses over the hard parts, the uncertainty, the self-doubt, and the work that went into figuring out the right fit. Looking back on three careers and four years as a career coach, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned about how we really find careers that fit:Nobody has it figured out. What if we all agreed to give up telling ourselves that we are so behind and should have it figured out by now? What if we didn't have the expectation that we need to have things figured out by a certain point in our lives? What if we allowed ourselves the grace to experiment, fall into things, and change our minds at any age? I started as an engineer before I fell into technical support at Google. I discovered I actually loved customer service (who knew?!) and as part of my role, I also started working with new hires who felt stressed about their careers. I fell into career development which led me to business ownership, much to my own surprise. I've never had a plan and I certainly don't have it "figured out". I follow my interests, pay attention to where I find energy, and keep my eyes open for my next experiment.Whatever you’re trying to hide or camouflage is actually your biggest differentiator. When I first started my business, I felt embarrassed that I had such a winding career path. Who would want to hire an engineer turned technical support rep turned career coach? I didn't know how to tell a coherent story for myself, let alone other people. It turns out, the thing I was trying to hide, my engineering degree, turned out to be my MOST unique value. Once I got the story clear in my head, I was able to convey what I do best and connect with the right people. I started working with analytically minded people who would appreciate my practical and structured approach to career.Use your values to know WHY you’re making decisions. I have SO many interests and it's often been hard for me to know what to do full-time and what to do as a hobby. I've learned over the years that my values are a huge component of being able to make my decisions confidently. Take baking, for example, I've always loved it and in 2016, I took my first professional baking course. What I loved about that five day course was three of my top values: Challenge, Variety, and Learning. What I quickly realized is that those values were abundant in the five day course, but not in baking as a career. That clarity made it easy to know that baking is a hobby for now. My coaching side-business, however, hit all of my top values and it was clear that it was a great fit to take full-time. It remains a great fit with my values four years later.Do what is right for you. There is so much pressure in this world about what we should want to do in our career, what work should mean to us, where we should want to work, and whether our passion and purpose should come from work. There's also a culture of complacency (I should be grateful for what I have, everyone else seems to be happy) that leaves us feeling hollow. I often say that 50% of my job is to give people permission to do what they want and what works for them. You can choose to have a boring job or you can choose to have all your passion come from your job. What's important is that you get to choose. There is no way you can find success following other people's versions of it. My hope is that I never get to a point of having it “figured out” and I always see my career as an opportunity to try something new or make a change that works for me. I’ll keep telling my story as an engineer-turned-technical-support-rep-turned-career-coach (potentially at risk of becoming a baker) rather than someone who just quit their job and followed their passion. I encourage you to seek out the real stories as well.Lindsay is a career coach for analytically minded people who want to stop doing what they think is "right" in their career and start doing what's right for them. She helps people get clarity about what's right for them in a job and why, develop confidence about their skills and abilities, and communicate effectively to interviewers, managers, and colleagues. She loves applying her engineering brain to helping people find careers that fit, baking complicated pastries, and barbershop singing.
"Use your values to know WHY you’re making decisions" - YES YES and sometimes (at least in my life) I have done things, making decisions, which I thought were trivial when in fact they were a reflection of what truly mattered to me. So I'd even venture and say, if you are having a hard time uncovering your WHY, think about the mundane things you do every day - why you tuck your bed a certain way, why you chose to sit on a particular chair - it's magical how much through this process you get to know yourself!
I love this, Iynna, our strengths and values do show up in the tiniest ways in our lives and it's fun to discover them.
Great post thank you. Just this week I realised I was pursuing something because someone else thought I should do it and would be good at it, I allowed my ego to lead not my values. I’m 50 and still figuring this stuff out through the development of a plan for my next 5 years. Hard stuff but really important for me otherwise I run the risk of it controlling me rather than.....
You're welcome. It really is a never-ending practice to look at what WE want. I acknowledge you for continuing to bring it back to your values and noticing when others are dictating the plan.
"Whatever you’re trying to hide or camouflage is actually your biggest differentiator." Yes x10000. Great post Lindsay!I'm also someone with a lot of interests so the idea of taking the time to distinguish which make good hobbies vs work resonates with me.Also, I've had this really great volunteer experience over the past year where all these disparate skills I have came together to make me perfectly equipped to have meaningful impact on the group I was serving. It was a good reminder that I thrive in roles where I have to wear many hats and get to exercise a variety of skills that might not typically be bundled into one standard job description.
Thank you!! I believe this SO strongly. Love hearing your story of how all your skills have come together to create an incredible impact. We all have so much to give and our unique experiences make it possible.
Hi, Lindsay! You're amazing! Thank you for sharing with the Elpha community. :)
Thank you! Such a pleasure to share.
This is fabulous. Thanks for sharing your story, Lindsay. I especially love how you're incorporating a value-driven mindset into your career decision making.
My pleasure, I hope it helps people feel better about where they are. It has been so calming to use values as a way to make decisions with confidence!
"I follow my interests, pay attention to where I find energy, and keep my eyes open for my next experiment." This is such a great way to go about it!
Thank you! I find that it has SO much less pressure than needing to have it all "figured out".
This is such a beautifully written post, Lindsay -- thank you for generously sharing your wisdom and learnings. A moment that really resonated with me was the differentiation between how your values play out in a hobby vs. a career -- it's such a good distinction. As someone who is naturally curious and enjoys trying new things, I often will find a new joy and then wonder why I'm not doing it FT, when in actuality, transitioning it into a career may not make the most sense or give me the freedom I am seeking. Love this share!
Thank you Jennifer, I appreciate your kind words. It really is very powerful to be able to distinguish between career and hobby and feel confident in that decision. I hope it gives you lots of freedom in your choice to dabble and explore!
I LOVE this, Lindsay! I’m a human-centred conversion copywriter about to launch my personal brand. I’m in the process of aligning my values with my skills (and another winding career path over here) so this post came at the perfect time! Thank you :)
Wonderful, so glad to hear it and congrats!! I really think the majority of us have winding career paths and I want more people to see that it's normal.
There are so many gems in this article. Thank you for sharing!
You're very welcome, really glad to hear it.