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.