5 tips to help you develop your career path

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After returning from South America, almost three months ago, the first few days I felt very happy being home. It didn’t took long, however, before I got restless again and the big question popped up in my head: and now what?
For over a year now I have been thinking about changing my professional life and while I knew the direction, I wasn’t able to put the pieces together. Returning from South America, I felt finally ready to answer that question and make up a concrete plan. I would like to share the steps which helped me along the road to define the next phase in my career:

1 Focus on skills instead of finding ‘the’ job
2 Travel (alone)
3 Read
4 Get a physical hobby
5 Allow yourself time

They might help you too if once you’ll get stuck!

1 Focus on skills instead of finding ‘the’ job
What’s your ultimate job? Some people know they want to be a baker and they will be happily the rest of their life. They are blessed! Many of us reach some point at where we are not happy anymore with our current professional life, yet have no clue on what to do then. If you do not know, it’s better to grow along with your skills than trying to find something you’re not even sure about what you’re looking for. Why? Imagine you know what you want and you cannot find it – this means you have failed? Or, you do find what you wanted, but realize you’re still not happy. This means you have failed? Not at all. You just have been focusing on the wrong thing. It’s better to focus on your skills: if people do something they’re good at, they tend to be happy.

Last summer, I have been hired for 3 months as a test expert to learn others how to do proper testing and test management. I wasn’t thrilled, since I’m not fond of the test subject, yet it turned out to be one of my most satisfactory projects. Simply because I was using the skill needed for the job: educate others. Of course, more factors count, yet this example caused myself a revelation: I should not let pass away opportunities just because they do not ‘fit’ 100% in my career vision. Instead, I should find opportunities where I can develop the skills I want to use. It’s all about broadening your horizon and working on your own career capital. For more insights (although a slightly different approach) read along.

2 Travel (alone)
Broadening your horizon in general is very good when you’re wondering about what to do. That’s why I recommend anyone to travel: you will meet other people, other perspectives, other beliefs. Those will be a mirror: what is important to you? Are your perceptions still the same now you know different ones? Travelling means you will enhance your ability to reflect upon yourself. Did you ever thought: “and tonight I go sit on my couch and reflect”? Brilliant intention, but it (almost) never works.

Reflection should be an unconscious but recurrent action. While travelling, your new experiences will make you reflect automatically. And when travelling alone: even better! It’s more easy to meet people and establish some connections with them; your mind is more free to absorb and process all the new stuff and thoughts.

3 Read
While travelling you may also have more time to read. Reading is an excellent way to find inspiration on what to do and where to go. The ideas and reflections of others helped me very much in shaping my new business ideas. Knowing which services other people offer, for example, make me understand better what I would like to offer – and what not. And not to speak of reading to enhance your knowledge on a certain subject matter!

4 Get a physical hobby
All this thinking, reflecting, and learning needs of course an outlet. That’s where physical practice comes in. Physical practice – whatever it is (although I have some doubt about kickboxing, but ok) – refreshes and clears up the mind.

I started recurrent physical practice only last August, and I’m convinced it stimulated my mind to be more creative and be more receptive. While running, I always reach a state where I do not feel physical or emotional pain anymore, but my thoughts float freely through my brain and get affected by the people and things I pass by, instead of me being stuck with the same thinking pattern. Dancing, yoga, and freediving affect my mind in a different way, but it all sums up to one thing: opening the mind. Check here for a more scientific approach.

5 Allow yourself time
Today, my business plan is 90% ready. Last months I have thought many times: “Why didn’t I come up with this last year?” First of all, because of the lack of number 1, 3, and 4 (travelling I did :p). Second of all: because not all answers come over night. Just like it rarely works to tell yourself: “and now I’m going to be creative”, revelations come after some time. And probably earlier if you have been travelling, focusing, reading, and exercising physically.

Question: I’m not feeling well; can I rethink my professional future?
Absolutely. To undertake these steps, you do not have to be in a peppy happy state. Mine was very far from that recent months. In fact, I felt constantly like walking in the winter sun: the sun is shining, but gives no warmth at all. Writing the words didn’t come – this very article cost me weeks! My hair turned considerably greyer, I lost 4 kilos, I yelled at my beloved ones and they yelled at me. I completely forgot my own inspirational notes I wrote last autumn and which are actually very Me – in fact, I did the very opposite of all I have mentioned there.
And yet, far from being my normal peaceful Self, I have been able to put the pieces together. Actually, having new goals made me go on! So please don’t hesitate to rethink your professional future whenever you feel you want to – and to share a little secret: above steps should able to help feeling better in general, too 🙂

What do you think about all this, do you see some value in it or do I have the wrong end of the stick? I’m curious to know your opinion!

[P.D.: it is not my intention to play down rigid labour markets nor situations in which someone is suffering serious personal difficulties]
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Silver at Sunrise emerged from my love to write and travel, and my wish to share positive and inspirational pieces with all of you. To inspire you to live your life to the fullest, whatever that means to you!
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