Career Woman Figuring Out Her Next Steps

How to discover and take action on your next career step in 7 days or less

Nicola Porter PhD takes you through the 7 things to focus on over the next week, day by day, in order to take action withy our next career steps. 

Career-driven women know that success doesn’t happen by accident. We need to take charge of our careers by deciding where we want to go and then planning how to get there. The problem is we’re so busy with work, family and other commitments that time can easily pass without doing this all-important career planning. We can prioritise everything and everyone except ourselves and our careers!

Here’s a simple solution for time-poor but ambitious and passionate women: a 7-day plan to discover your next career step in as little as 20 minutes per day!

Day 1 – Get ready

You need two things for the week ahead: the right tools and a firm commitment. The tools are fairly straightforward: a portable notebook and a pen or a note-taking app that syncs across devices like Evernote. This might seem like a small thing but both are easy to find and make a note in when inspiration strikes. Otherwise, there’s a strong possibility a key insight will be forgotten.

The commitment is a promise to yourself that you’re going to invest the time to do this. We spend so much of our lives working: this is important! Tell someone close to you that you’re doing this exercise for the next week and ask them to check in with you in 7 days’ time. This will help you stay accountable with your goal.

Finally, pick a time in the day when you’re unlikely to be disturbed and block it out in your calendar.

Day 2 – Creating a LIKES list

What story are you telling yourself about your career? Particularly if you’re not entirely happy, it’s easy to describe your current role in absolute terms: you either love it or hate it. Yet the truth is probably much more nuanced so we’re going to start by teasing apart what’s working and what’s not.

Today we’re going to create a LIKES list. What do you like about your current role? Consider how you spend your time, who you work with, where you work, work/life balance, etc. Write it all down.

Day 3 – Creating a DISLIKES list

Same as Day 2 except the opposite! What do you dislike about your current role?

Feel free to add to either list as the week progresses. Be mindful as you go through your week what increases your energy and what depletes it. When are you most in flow and when are you struggling to get through a task? If there’s something you dislike, try to work out exactly what it is about the task that you dislike. Maybe it’s the conditions you work in or the people you work with rather than the task itself.

Day 4 – Brainstorming solutions

Go through your two lists: what would enable you to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t? This might mean a small or a big change: a change within your existing role or company or a change to a completely different career.

Feeling stuck? Ask a friend for help! Or take a break to enhance your creativity. Try mulling it over while going for a walk for example.

Day 5 – Pick a place to start

Which change are you going to action first? Start with the change that you find most appealing, challenging, doable or where you can simply see a clear way forward. Go with whatever feels right rather than what you feel you should do.

You could also use Gary Keller and Jay Papasan’s “Focusing Question” to help you decide where to start: “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” (from The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results).

Day 6 – Create a goal

Frame your change as a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. (You can read more about SMART goals here.) Bear in mind that if your goal is big (e.g., a career change or even going for a promotion) you may need to break it down into more manageable chunks.

Decide on a realistic time-frame and set a deadline. Put it in your calendar! Do you need reminders?

Day 7 – Make it happen

The no. 1 thing you can do to make it happen is get support. You need someone who is prepared to hold you to account, to challenge you and cheer you on: an accountability partner. A like-minded friend or colleague perhaps? Maybe you’ve a friend or partner who’d like to come up with his or her own career goal and you could work on your goals together! Then there’s always a career professional like a coach who can provide the structure, support and accountability to help you achieve your goal.

Rinse and repeat

Invest the time and effort into your career that you do for other things and you’ll start to see real progress. Real change happens over time, one step at a time! I’d love to hear how you get on with this 7-day plan: connect with me here and let me know.

Nicola Porter, Yellow Eve contributor

Nicola Porter

Nicola Porter, PhD is a career change coach for smart, capable professionals who want to take stock of their career and figure out their next step.

Nicola combines everything she knows and loves about psychology with highly effective coaching tools and techniques to help you create a better quality of working life so that you can enjoy more success, confidence and satisfaction in your work – in a totally doable way. Having masterminded her own career change to create a more satisfying and flexible working life, Nicola is keen to share what works to help you do the same.

Meet Nicola and take your first step towards creating a more meaningful, enjoyable career at www.coachd.ie.

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