Think back to when you were a child. Did you have a special career in mind? A passion to be a police officer, or a dancer, or perhaps a painter? When you got older and entered high school, did you discover a talent for debate? For shop class? Is there something that really stuck with you? Something from those childhood joys that is with you today? For instance, did your love of debate lead you into practicing law?
When I was a child, I loved to sort – buttons, blocks, cards. In my career, the tasks I’ve performed and most enjoyed have been, logically, those that create order. I love to clear up organizational messes, create and fine-tune procedures and processes. I enjoy making other people’s jobs easier by doing so. These same skills make me a very good process and project manager.
I was an administrative, marketing and executive assistant for over twenty years when I was laid off in 2009. I’d always worked under other people’s agendas, doing everything I could to please Corporate America and to keep my job. At the time I was laid off I had been acting as an assistant to a spiritual motivational speaker in my spare time, and in working with him I had met two other spiritual entrepreneurs who asked for my help. Over time, I found myself working for a wide variety of people in marketing and promotion, client services, proofing and editing, scheduling, and organizing. I was provided a great logo, I created a website and promo materials, and made it official: I was now the proud owner of Lightseeds Office, a virtual assistant service. It has taken some time to develop, but I am now doing the kind of work that gives me joy, with my own agenda and at my own pace.
Did you know that nearly 14 million Americans are self-employed – 7% of labor force? 80% of people age 45+ consider changing careers; only 6% actually do. Does that mean that all the rest give up and settle for what they know, whether they enjoy it or not? I’d love to know what percentage of those that are self-employed are following their bliss, as opposed to working in whatever field they happen upon.
Whether you want to be an entrepreneur or not, let’s explore some ways to recapture the joys of your early dreams, and bring that to the present so you can act on them to create your future, whether it’s working for yourself or for someone else. Why settle, like I did for so many years? Let’s go on a journey to discover where you really want to be as you reinvent yourself.
Setting your GPS: Where are you now?
When you set out on a journey using your GPS, you can set your destination, but you won’t get far without allowing the navigator to determine where you are.
Think of your resume, your experience, training, titles, credentials, etc. What do you dislike about your current work life and your career? What do you enjoy? What of your credentials do you use? What do you not care about?
Where have you been?
In the same way, think about what you have left behind. What did you love early in your career or your youth that you don’t do now? What did you dislike you don’t want to return to? What got you where you are today? Many years ago when I was in retail I absolutely loved display and setting up new product. I can relate that to my current love of doing the same thing electronically: creating marketing materials and websites – electronic rather than physical layout and design.
What is your destination?
Now that we’ve discovered what your past brought you to, and what your present offers, let’s set your GPS for where you want to go. Carry forward the items that please you from your past and present into your future.
What’s your bliss? What tasks give you joy? What talents give you joy? Think of those re-inventors I described earlier. Can you see yourself taking people on photography tours? Describe what your ideal day would be, whether career related or not.
I love doing workshops, making PowerPoint presentations, event planning. I love design, layout, sorting, creating order. I love building the foundations for people to live their bliss. Define your goal. “I love gardening/decorating for Christmas/decluttering/baking/detailing cars, etc etc. I could do that for people who hate to do it.”’
You can set your GPS, but you’re getting nowhere fast unless you take action! Your GPS may tell you what turn to make, but it won’t say anything else until you actually make that first turn. Now that you’ve discovered some ways to reinvent yourself, let’s look at the tasks along the way. What do you need to do to get from your current location to your destination? What “virtual Mapquest” will you use? Do your research - find out how to match what people want with what you want to offer.
Taking my example, I looked at the group of people I wanted to target as a virtual assistant – motivational, spiritual, holistic workers. I asked questions and studied online: What is your biggest pain? What do you not have time for? If you had abundant finances, what is the first thing you’d hire out? Based on that, I created a match between the skills I love to use (NOT just skills I have, but those I enjoy) and what they needed. I built my offerings on those things.
Focus on the WHAT not the HOW. Keep your eye on what your goal is, and take all the steps you can to achieve that goal. Don’t try to figure out how success will happen. You don’t keep checking your car’s navigator to see how it’s taking you to your destination, you just know it is taking you there and follow the cues it gives you. Likewise faith in the outcome and taking inspired action will get you where you want to go. If you worry over the details, your focus has shifted from your goal to the “how.” I didn’t worry about how I would become a successful Virtual Assistant. I just took action based on the signs I saw, based on what I learned, and it just happened.
As you continue on the journey to reinventing yourself, remember to stay flexible. You may have a goal in mind that, once approached, changes into something different. Keep your eye on what you want, stay flexible, and it will happen.
Welcome! These stories, tips and tricks are intended to help you save time, and be more organized and effective in your work. New items will be added frequently so check back often.