Published on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 08:26
Kate Sturdy
Hand holding a compass

My career break is proving to be an exercise in orienteering.

I have some visible landmarks to guide me, techniques to navigate difficult terrain, and am gradually discovering new paths albeit obscured in mist and undergrowth…

Do you remember being asked to visualise your ideal career, as a first step in guiding yourself towards it? The role I created in that quiet space felt like a fantasy, and in some material ways I haven’t ever taken it further, or wanted to. But I realise now how significant that exercise still is: my strengths and values, and what matters to me most in work relationships, remain largely unchanged.

So I’ve gone back to basics, to rethink my career pillars using three questions:

Who am I?

A fundamental question about what I care about, deeply core to me and how I behave towards others, such as openness, compassion and integrity.

What are my career anchors?

My strengths are in roles where I can act independently, feel that I am of service to others and face a high level of challenge.

What logistics do I care about?

Doesn’t sound so thrilling, but this matters. Whatever future work I do, I will be putting flexibility top of this list: working part-time and being able to take breaks is how I remain healthy and capable, and is therefore non-negotiable.

Re-connecting with these elementals is exciting. But I am also noticing what is changing in me. We aren’t static, the tools we use to identify our “type” are helpful in generating questions to explore, but we are always a product of nature, nurture and circumstance. We can shed off previous skins if we need space to grow. 

The trickiest bit for me is summoning the dream into sharp relief. Change is hard, change is potent – we need to be uncomfortable now and then to keep changing. My shadowy destination is a role that has coaching, learning and development at its heart. I don’t know what it is yet, and I am keeping faith that my path is out there, even if my feet have not yet found it. 

What are you dreaming of? Are you on the path towards it?