PARADE Update: One (Penguin) Step at a Time

PARADE Update: One (Penguin) Step at a Time


When a career change overwhelms you – take penguin steps In our session today, Meaghan shared that she was feeling overwhelmed. Trying to juggle a career change with managing a family, home and “life” was taking its toll on her sanity.

This is common among career changers (which is why I think so many professionals stay in jobs that are unfulfilling and unmotivating.) Reinventing your career is a step-by-step process that takes persistence, endurance and a lot of patience. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my advice is to step back, breathe and take penguin steps.

In the movie “March of the Penguins” the penguins took tiny baby steps as they shuffled across the frozen ground of Antarctica. Their steps are tiny but with their focus and commitment they successfully reach their final destination over 100 miles away.

Changing careers is also a journey. Sometimes you can run, sometimes you can walk, and sometimes (like when you’re feeling overwhelmed) the only way you move forward is by shuffling along and taking penguin steps.

Meaghan is in a similar situation. She has successfully assessed all of her experience, strengths and successes, and has determined the type of work she wants to be doing in her next career move. Now, she is assessing the job market to determine the industry that most excites her.

However, she shared with me that didn’t get very far with last week’s assignment of checking company websites, on-line job postings, business periodicals and industry magazines to find those industries and companies she’d most like to work in – because she was feeling overwhelmed.

My recommendation was to break down the assignment into smaller bite-sized chunks (think penguin steps.) So we took out a piece of paper and scribbled out four columns which we titled: industry, company, job role and personal contact.

Through a few coaching questions, Meaghan tackled the 1st column which was “industry.” She was able to quickly define two distinct industries that really excited her – education and food sustainability. This was a great start! She was breaking through mental roadblocks and seeing two different industries where she knew she could thrive!

Next, she quickly identified a couple of companies within each of those industries that she’d like to explore career opportunities. Then, we discussed job roles that she would be qualified for within each of those companies and industries. Also, she thought of a few contacts in her personal network that could potentially provide support.

By breaking up the step into smaller tasks, Meaghan was able to break through the clutter and roadblocks in her mind, and move forward in identifying possibilities to a career that would motivate and inspire her!

Thinking back on my own personal career, I made several job changes and I remember feeling overwhelmed just like Meaghan. Mostly, it was due to fear. Fear of change, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. But what pulled me through was knowing that if other professionals could be happy in their career, then I could do, too!

By looking at a career change as a “process” and then breaking up the process into smaller-sized tasks, it allowed me to take bold steps towards a new career – even if some of them were only penguin steps!

Meaghan’s Assignment this Week
In my book, Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand, one of my strategies for transitioning into a meaningful and purposeful career is to define the industry and job role of where you want to be. This becomes part of your career blueprint (i.e. North Star) in helping you transition into an inspiring career.

Meaghan’s assignment this week is to research a variety of industries and companies, and then complete her spreadsheet with a list of those that would excite her, as well as the job role for each industry and company listed that defines how she could potentially bring value to the organization.

By assessing the current job market and identifying job roles that are right for her, Meaghan is getting one step closer to identifying a more meaningful and purposeful career.

About Career Coach Sherri Thomas
Sherri Thomas is a leading career coach who helps professionals transform and thrive in their career. She is a leading career coach, Huffington Post writer, globe trotting keynote speaker, and the 2013 Best Career Book author of “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback.” As a sought after media source, she has been featured in top news outlets including NBC-TV Phoenix, the Wall St. Journal, TIME, New York Daily News, Monster.com and many others. She loves traveling around the world and learning about other cultures, thrives in nature, and will always encourage you to go on what she calls a life changing Kenyan safari because the 30-hour flight journey “isn’t that bad.”


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