Wednesday, 23 July 2014

CAREERS WEEK GUEST POST: Same World... different planet... What do you want now?

By Kerry Hales
Motherhood is a strange, yet wonderful place and the extra earth shattering news is that now your values have changed too.  You don’t want the same ‘anything’ that you did before – how could you?  So who are you now, and what do you really want?  Here are five exercises on ‘Finding what you want’:

1. Create a space where you can think.

How can you make life easier on yourself?  Setting up your life to make things as easy as possible is all about making time for you.  Be ruthless about the time you need to spend on yourself, be it at a job, studying or preparing a business plan – you are going to need time and you are going to have to put yourself first.  Here’s the test question:  Are you running your life around your children or are you showing them how to live a life they love? 

2. What is your ‘Back Story’?

Before children, who were you?  This exercise is to look at what you did before you had children and what you loved about it. Write it down.  Yep, I mean it.  Get a coffee or some kind of drink that soothes you (create a space for you) and sit and work through all that you have done – from school onwards.  What we are really looking for here is what you enjoyed.  Be as specific as you can, if it was projects, what was it about them – the time frame, accountability, the detail, the use of computers, the importance of communicating with other people?  Break it down as far as you can.  Everything is valuable in getting to know you better. 

Once you have a list you will notice certain recurring themes, some of which may come as a surprise. What we are looking for are real answers to who you are, not who you think you are or what you think you want.  Getting a clearer idea of what you want, comes from understanding what you have already done.  The trends are there and you will bring with you a feast of talent from your past.  So we always start there.  Who is this character and what can we trust her to do?

3. If you start by chasing others’ ideas of success you will never achieve it.

What you want from life is up to you.  It is your choice, your decision and you who lives it.  Make sure when you are figuring out what you want, it is ‘yours’.  Check in with yourself and see...  are your ideas of success based on someone else’s?  Your parents, siblings, BFF’s?  They will all have an impact on your ideas, as you spend so much time with them.  But this is all about you and what you want.  If your idea is to start a business, and your friends are all employed, the conversation will be towards what their ‘advice’ is.  So when you are asking for ‘advice’ (what they would do in your shoes) make sure you take notice.  It is theirs, not yours.  What do you want?  What feels right to you? 

4. But what if I really don’t know what I want to do?

Once you have had your children, one of the most frustrating things is trying to find what you want to do next, for you.  It feels like there is no time to waste.  Relax!  Life isn’t like that.  You are going to make mistakes.  Think of it like an aeroplane on its route – it’s rarely 100% on course – it’s an ongoing process of course correcting.  Try something out and check to see if it’s working for you and the family and if not – see how you can change it. The rule here is:  Is this working for ‘me’?  If not, how can ‘I’ change it? 

5.  What if I really, really don’t know what I want?

It is sometimes easier to list what we don’t want. So start there.  Make a comprehensive list about what you do not want.  We can very easily become focused on what we do not want and ‘bingo’ we get it.  So, for this I suggest you take advantage of your focus and get it down on paper, add a column next to each point and turn what was a negative into a positive – if I don’t want this, then what I really want it this.  What you end up is with a list of what you do want.  Voila!
We are also going to acknowledge and love our pessimistic side (yes we all have one).  If you do not do this it will rear its ugly head and stop any kind of creativity you had.  For this exercise we need two pieces of paper (or just turn it over!); one for your ‘creative’ side and the other for the ‘pessimistic’ one.  Both are very valuable in their own right and by the end of this exercise you will learn to love them equally... well nearly!
Q:  If I got paid to have fun – what would I be doing?
Q:  What if ‘money/time/skills/my age/’didn’t matter – what would I do?

Put the answer that comes on the right side of paper. When you have finished you will have ideas on one side and considerations on the other – all of which are invaluable, as you will need to answer both, but this will get ideas flowing.  

So there you have it – five top tips on getting what you want.  If you can think it, you can do it.  If you have written anything down... You can do it. You can! You really can, all you need is a plan and a bunch of determination and you can create anything!

Kerry Hales is a ‘Professional Certified Coach’ with the International Coaching Academy. Previously a successful senior NHS Manager, Kerry has now been coaching for over ten years and specialises in empowering women to succeed. She is a mother of two young boisterous boys and lives by the sea with her partner, Labrador and ginger Tom. Life is very simple, yet very full.

If you would like to find out more about Kerry Hales' life coaching, go to

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