You have a nice job that pays well and you have nothing to complain about your colleagues. Yet something is gnawing. Is this it or is this all? Isn’t there anymore? Isn’t there something else that gives you more satisfaction? In short, you suffer from uncertainty and career jitters: the nagging feeling that you are not in the right place, without knowing what you really want to do. Now it becomes very important to discover what is wrong. But how do you find out what suits you? Read more below and you will have the answer shortly with the example of Lynn.
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Quitting her job
Lynn has worked for years as a psychosomatic physiotherapist in a practice she shares with a number of colleagues. The work is easy for her, even though she works long hours. But even though every client is different, she still feels like she is in a rut. Now that the lockdown breaks the routine, she more often worries whether this is the work she wants to do forever. She feels she wants to get out. To take the first step, she informs her colleagues that she is leaving the partnership and is terminating the lease for her practice space. A drastic step, because she doesn’t know yet what to do next.
Needing a career change
She tells her therapist in a consulting session that she no longer wants to work as a physiotherapist and really wants to do something different. The problem is that she just doesn’t know in which direction to go. Maybe she should stop being a self-employed person and go into paid employment, and start doing something managerial. But what and where? She does not know the answer yet.
You could dismiss such a feeling of unease about your work as a luxury problem, as you have a job, nice colleagues and you earn enough. What else do you want? So: don’t whine and keep going? I don’t recommend it, especially if it makes you unhappy. Moreover, you can solve such a problem, and that can trigger a lot of creativity. Every reason to work on it and find out what you really want and what is the right place for you.
To get started with this, you need to apply the NSD model that some experts use. This model is about Needs, Skills, and Design.
First of all, needs
You will use the needs radar to gain insight into your needs. For this one, you can use the work of the Swiss developmental psychologist Remo Largo. He distinguishes six basic needs: physical well-being, security, social recognition, self-development, personal success, and social security. You can give yourself scores for this on the basis of a questionnaire or with a score of 1-10. You put it on the radar. Then you can see at a glance which needs are strong for you and which are less.
Lynn appears to score high on the need for self-development, but also on personal success, she wants to be seen and recognized. Security of existence is of less importance to her.
Step two: an inventory of your skills. You can use the competence radar for this as well. In this case, Lynn will use another method to help herself understand what she is really good at: ask people who know you well. Often, those qualities that you overlook yourself. Something that you do well is so self-evident to you that you do not recognize it as a talent.
Lynn was especially moved by what her brother said about her: that as a small child she was pretty bossy and always indicated exactly what she wanted and didn’t want. Others spoke of her sense of language and her ability to plan. This reinforced her idea to continue in management.
But then, what do you do with that insight? You know what your strongest needs are, what you can do well, but how do you find the right job for that? To find out, you will use the method of design thinking, the third step in the NSD model, where D stands for design.
Design thinking is a method from the creative industry that aims to come up with new product ideas. This way of thinking is now gaining ground, including in behavioral therapy. It starts with redefining the problem you want to solve. In the case of the career tickle, you step away from the question: which job suits me best? You can redefine that question by digging a little deeper and asking yourself, what do I really want? You have already mapped that out in step 1 (needs radar). For Lynn, that has something to do with leadership.
Then comes the creative step, in which you ask yourself in which ways you can give shape to that need. You can start with the obvious things, like Lynn’s idea of becoming a manager. Don’t stop there. Also, ask yourself what are totally unobvious ways to realize your needs. It doesn’t have to be realistic, it’s all about coming up with new ideas that can help you further. Think of it as a free brainstorming phase, in which you can also involve others, and especially enjoy coming up with as many solutions as possible.
The choice is yours
Then it is important to choose a solution and try it out. If that doesn’t work, choose one of your alternatives. That way there have been a lot of nice career switches.
The outcome for Lynn was that she will soon start as a program manager at a youth institution, responsible for quality policy. How did that happen? “It was just a coincidence,” she says. “An old school friend found me on LinkedIn and looked for someone to do it. The fact that I immediately said yes to it was because through your exercises I was open to such a new experience and knew that this was what could really suit me. “
When something is nagging you in your daily job, then usually something is amiss and you better find out what it is. The NSD model as introduced above can very well help you find out about yourself.
Lynn found out that she did not need to be self-employed, but could very well work in a hierarchical situation. This would be a huge change for anybody. But if it makes you happier?
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Thanks for your attention and please do ask your questions through the comment section below.