Just like Goldilocks looking for that perfect bowl of porridge, some approaches to finding your next role will be “too hot” others “too cold.” Today we’re going to define what you can do so that your next career move is “just right.”

This approach is too cold
I see it every day. People caught in the cold porridge of trying to figure out what to do next. They don’t know what they want: Should they stay or go? If they go, what would they do next? They are caught up in trying to find the perfect next step. They try journaling. They read books. They think and think and think. If they take any action, it’s half-hearted and haphazard – maybe looking at job boards and posting their resumes, but it doesn’t really get them anywhere. Meanwhile, they plug away in their current roles, working hard, but not really progressing.

They are bogged down in trying to find the right answer. And it’s getting them nowhere.

This approach is too hot
On the other extreme are the people who jump too quickly into a new opportunity without doing their due diligence. They’re feeling restless or dissatisfied, so they leap at the first thing that comes along. Too often that’s out of the frying pan and into the fire. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have made this mistake. They end up in a role that isn’t a good fit, or in a company that isn’t right for them. Then they feel like they need to wait it out long enough that it doesn’t look back on their resume. That can be miserable.

This approach is “just right”
The best way to find your next role is to strike a balance between introspection and action. Rather than trying to find their one true path, my clients set out on an exploration. We identify what they enjoy doing, and what they’re good at. Then we map out a few different career pathways for them to consider. We define a route down each of those pathways that will help them discover what they like, what they don’t, and what’s going to be a good fit for them. Along the way, they’re refining their interviewing skills and honing their messaging. That means that when the right role comes along, they’re able to present themselves as the obvious candidate to hire.

This is exactly the strategy that I used in my own career, starting 20 something years ago. At that time, I wanted to move from strategy consulting to something that was more focused on human dynamics. I knew there was a field called Organization Development, but I didn’t really know what that entailed. So I set out on an exploration. I mapped out the pathways – the different roles that might be available, and what it was like to do them. I met with professionals in the field and through our discussions, got clear about what I wanted to do next. I even took a short-term assignment as a Research Assistant to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, one of the top names in the field at Harvard Business School. That was amazing – I learned a lot from her about how to make sense of an organization’s culture and challenges. And – just as importantly – I discovered that I didn’t want to be a researcher. I enjoyed interviewing people and getting to know what was happening in an organization. But at the end of it, I didn’t want to just write about it, as a researcher. I wanted to get in there and facilitate change, as a consultant, to help people get along better. That’s when I knew that a career in organizational consulting would be my next move.

I did that for about 20 years – helping leaders build high-performing teams and helping people work through conflict and get along as they worked together. It was great work, and I learned a lot.

Then I started to get restless for a change again. At that point, I got curious about coaching, as a different way to have an impact. So I set out to understand the pathways available in that field. From there, I launched my own career and leadership coaching business, where I work with people to take their careers to the next level and become great managers without burning out. That means helping people move through challenges – whether that’s a layoff, or feeling stuck and not getting promoted, or feeling overwhelmed as they move up. I absolutely love this work – helping people define the next chapters in their careers, and setting themselves up to be successful, happy and satisfied.

Find your “just right” role
If you’re feeling like it’s time for a shift in your career, and you’d like some help defining your pathways and finding the role that’s going to be just right for you, my team and I would love to help.

You can book a call with us at zmcoach.com/apply. We’ll get on the phone for about 45 minutes and talk with you about where you are in your career and where you want to go. And if we can help you get from here to there, we’ll share what that would look like. And if we’re not the right resource, we’ll do our best to point you to someone who is. We look forward to hearing from you. Take care.

Here’s a video if you prefer to watch and listen to me talk about this topic:

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