By now, you’ve got some ideas about what makes you tick – and keep on ticking – and you may have even figured out what ticks you off. If you’ve done your brainstorm properly, you’ve got a lot of information. So much that it should feel uncomfortable or daunting. That’s okay; now is when we take that information and make it manageable. You may ask why all this soul-searching is important. Harvard Business Review has a short article “How to embrace change using Emotional Intelligence” that I recommend reading to remind yourself that focus on ‘personal you’ is important, especially to make a better ‘business you.’ As we go through the framework, the items you write may have absolutely nothing to do with your current place in life or career – that’s okay… remember, we’re thinking about where you want togo.

All of this is predicated on your emotional place. Are you running from something or running to something? This blog is not going to give you instant gratification, nor tell you what to do. This is a process that defines you, helps you understand your value and those things important to you.If you give yourself the space to explore, you will learn new things about you and what drives you.

I’ve created a Self-Reflection Tip Sheet to help consolidate those things that are important to you and provide an aggregated way to keep you thinking.  Before we start transferring information from your brainstorm to begin crafting your map, reflect for some time on how you define success. Really try to focus on YOUR thoughts, not society, not your friends, nor associates. This gives you the ‘target’, the destination, or even just a waypoint depending on when you reach it. Remember, this is a dynamic exercise that you will do over time, modified to the changes in your life and your personal situation. Once you have this done, how do you want your friends to remember you? Your professional community will remember that you….did what?

With your idea of success in mind, let’s get back to the brainstorming you spent so much time on. Identify your non-negotiables, those things that you can’t compromise. These could be your values, location of a job, financial requirements, etc.  Keep those things in the front of your mind as you start to compile your map because this will define the boundaries and limits for you.

Next, we want to identify those top five things you do that give you energy, recharge you, or at the least, don’t drain you. This exercise gets you to consciously call out activities that build the energy inside, that you have a passion for, and that you enjoy. This could be completely outside what you think you ‘need’ to do for a career – but don’t limit yourself.Examples may be gardening, organizing the house, riding horses, knitting, woodworking, or helping kids learn how to cook. It could also be some of the ‘traditional’ career ideas like mentoring or coaching employees, starting new businesses, reviewing data to find trends, designing webpages, or involvement in military, police, government, or other community service.

If you were unrestricted, what would your ideal day look like? Mine would be to wake up, thankful that I’m on the right side of the grass, go for a walk to start thinking about the day. I’d be living on my small farm, so I would gather the eggs, check on the bees and the plants. After breakfast, I’d love to have the opportunity to coach a few clients – see if they can’t get SPARKED. A simple lunch  then work with my own and local kids that have a passion to learn farm-to-table techniques, harvesting, preparing, and cooking a meal for people in the community. Wrap up the day with a nice glass of wine on the back porch, watching Orion track across the sky. Yes, I know, I have lots of irons in the fire, but hey – dream!

Let’s bring it back to reality for a minute – where are you relative to that ideal day, and when would you like to be there?  I’m probably 1/3 of the way toward my ‘ideal day.’ But, I am really excited to have something to look forward to, and something that I can show the kids that I’d like them to be part of. Once you define Point B, you’ll automatically start to frame up messages that will align with that goal. It will all come automatically. I highly recommend you watchSimon Sinek’s "How Great Leaders Inspire Action", and create or reflect on YOUR why.  

I recognize there are a lot of hypotheticals as an output from this reflection, however, it should excite you and give you a drive to identify how to get to your Point B. The material you’ve pulled together should give you inspiration that with a plan, you can do anything. It may not happen overnight, and probably won’t, but you’ll have direction. This exercise is best achieved with multiple iterations, and with family and friends that support you, who will not limit you to their own definition of what is ‘realistic,’ and who will let you explore. Ultimately, a professional coach is the best tool to shine a mirror on you, to challenge your untapped dimensions untapped. I can’t overemphasize that once I did this and had direction, the curves that life threw became much more manageable.