Episode 3 - How to Take Back Control of Your Career
Ever noticed how we tend to ignore stuff until it smacks us in the face? Well, careers often get the same treatment. But let’s face it, your career isn’t just some “thing” – it’s where you spend a whopping 35% of your life. It foots the bills, pumps up your mojo, and shapes your self-worth. Big deal, right?
So, buckle up as I spill the beans on seizing control of your career in a 4-part saga, the very process I use with my rockstar clients.
This episode? We’re kicking it off by unraveling the master plan and diving deep into Stage 1: Rediscovering Your Best Self. Trust me, this is the career empowerment you didn’t know you needed!
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Hello and welcome back to The Career Reset Podcast.
It’s really great to have you here. As you just heard, I’m Mel Savage, founder, and CEO of The Career Reset where my focus is to help people take back control of their careers. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Over the course of the next few episodes, we’re going to talk about how you take back control of your career, which is a really interesting proposition because most people don’t think about whether or not they’re actually in control of their careers. In fact, when someone asks me what I do and I say I help people take back control of their career, most of the time people look at me a little confused, and they say something like, “Huh, that sounds interesting. How do you do that?”
And the reason most people are curious is because they haven’t really thought about whether or not they’re in control of their careers. Their careers are just ticking along one week into the next. You show up. You do your job. Somebody puts money in your bank account and that cycle just goes on and on until one day there’s a problem. And that problem could be a myriad of things.
It could be you have a bad boss. You get an assignment that’s not clicking with you. Maybe your office culture shifts a little bit and isn’t really aligned with who you are anymore. It could be simply that you’re bored. It’s not dynamic enough and you’re dissatisfied with your role or your career choice. It goes on and on and on.
As all these things become potential problems, all of these things start to get in your way. Some kind of change happens that either freaks you out or takes you out of alignment with how you like to work. It takes you out of your comfort zone, and then you need to decide what you want to do about it. And it’s at that point when you think you need to decide what you need to do about it.
That’s when people realize, “Oh, I need to take control of this thing.” As soon as there’s a problem, that’s when people start refocusing on what’s going on with their careers. What ends up happening a lot of the time is that people don’t actually know what to do, so they don’t do anything at all. Whether they’re consciously doing this or not, they just tend to go with the flow. They think, “You know what, I’m an adult. I can handle this. Let’s see where this goes.”
Sometimes they can handle it. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, it becomes too much to handle, and that’s when things start to break down. You stop showing up at your best, you get more frustrated, and you lose perspective. You start to complain. You don’t like the people around you. Your performance on the job tends to suffer.
And somewhere along that path where things start to break down is when people realize, “Okay, I need to start taking control of this. I have to do something about this. Can’t go on like this.” But then of course the obvious question is, “Okay, what do I do now?” And that’s where I come in. A lot of people in these situations need help figuring out how to take control of their careers. In fact, I would say the smart people in these situations reach for help, They don’t try to go it alone.
So taking back control of your career means that you start making career decisions for yourself. Decisions that are with purpose and on purpose. It means that you have a career plan and career focus that’s 100% about you. It’s aligned with what’s important to you. How you like to work and the life you want to lead. And really importantly, it’s a career plan that is completely separate from any type of plan that you might be obligated to create at a company that you’re working for.
A lot of people will say, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a career plan.” But what they really have is a plan for growth at the company that they’re currently working for. It’s a plan that you’re obligated to build as part of your performance development inside the organization that you work for. While it’s good to have that, it is very narrow. And if something goes sideways at your company, one of those problems that we talked about before starts to pop up, then you’re stuck.
What are you going to do because you don’t have a plan for anything outside of the organization that you work in? Every career professional needs to have a career plan that is focused on their own career goals. A plan that is focused on the areas of growth you deem important with a support network that is strategically aligned with where you want to go, not where your organization wants you to go, or where your organization thinks that you’re capable of going.
A plan that creates awareness and visibility of what you can do with the right influencers that actually may go beyond where you work right now. That’s what taking control of your career looks like.
Over the course of the next four episodes, so this episode and three more after this, I really want to dig deep into how you can take control of your career. I’m going to share with you the path that I use with my clients to help them take back control of their careers. I’m going to answer the question that I get all the time – How do you do that? How do you go about taking control of your career? What does that look like? What’s involved in something like that?
The reason I want to share this with you early on in my podcast is because I want you to know that it’s doable. A lot of the time people stay stuck because they don’t think they can do anything else, or they tried something before and it didn’t work, or they’ve lost their confidence. They think nobody’s going to want them, particularly if they’ve been stuck or they’ve been out of work for a long time.
And even if you’re at your lowest of low points, this is still doable. You just have to be ready to show up and do the work. You have to want it because there is work involved. You are going to have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone a little bit every day.
Sometimes I get people who want to work with me and they just want to skip to the end. They want the answer and they want it now. They’re like, “Can you just give me a questionnaire or something and then psychoanalyze me and then tell me what I should do next? Tell me what I need to do to be happy in my career.”
And you know what, I wish it worked that way. I wish I could just press a button and fill in a questionnaire and lose 30 pounds. I wish I could just press a button and have $10 million in my bank account. But career, happiness, and success take work and it’s work that only you can do.
Here’s another thing that I want you to think about, just to noodle for a little bit. Career happiness is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle. It’s something that you practice. It’s something that you need to manage and be in control of all the time. Just like watching your diet or fitness or raising kids. If you want to be successful in any of those things, you need to be on it. You need to be all in.
Same thing with your career. If you want to see the success and the career happiness you deserve, you need to prioritize your career above your day job before your day job. All the time. You got to do the work and is it hard work? Yes, sometimes for sure. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but you know what? It is way easier than being stuck in a job you don’t love or drifting from one job or career to another. Keep your fingers crossed that you’re going to land in the right place for you.
So let’s get into it. What we’re going to be talking about over the course of the next four episodes are the four stages of taking back control of your career. One stage per episode, starting with the first stage today. And even though I call them stages, they’re not really linear. They’re not consecutive stages. I would consider them more like concurrent stages that are layered on top of each other like a four-part harmony. They all work together and you’re constantly moving in between them as you’re managing your career.
The four stages that I want to talk about with you are
1) Rediscovering your best self
2) Knowing what you want
3) Planning for your success
4) Staying accountable and making it happen
Even though these four stages are not consecutive, they are these concurrent layers. Even so, you still need to take it one step at a time. You don’t want to get overwhelmed. So if you’re just starting out, or you don’t have a career plan or you’re starting over or you’ve been stuck for a while, you got to start somewhere. You can’t start everything at once.
Where I always recommend people to start with is with the mind, with your mindset. Your mindset is the key to your success. In fact, success is 80% mindset, 20% strategy, busy work. I didn’t come up with that. I don’t know who did, actually, and I don’t know how scientific it is, but if you’re interested in learning more about that, I’m going to put some links in the show notes to some very important people who have actually talked about this before.
But whether it’s 80% or whether it’s 70, I think we all know that it is intuitively true. Elite athletes talk about this all the time, how a huge part of their success is getting their minds focused. And you know what, you see it in your life all the time. When your mind is focused, and when you’re thinking clearly and feeling mentally strong, that’s when you get the best results, So success is 80% mindset. That is huge.
If you did nothing else but consistently focus on improving and honing your mindset in your current career situation, even where you are right now, you would be more successful than you are right now. You would be happier than you are right now. You would be more fulfilled than you are right now. The mind is so powerful and your mindset drives so much of your results that just focusing on a big part of your energy is going to make a big difference in your life and your career.
The first stage and the most foundational stage of taking back control of your career is rediscovering your best self. The reason I start here is that I find by the time most people get to me, they’ve been stuck for a while. They are tired, sick, and tired. Their minds are tired. Sometimes they can feel a little beat down. They’ve lost their confidence, they’ve lost their mojo, and their attitude and their minds are focused on what’s not working.
They’re focused on what’s missing. They’re focused on what they can’t do and all the problems and all the hurdles that are in their way. They don’t feel very courageous about taking chances at this point. I get that. I totally get that feeling because I have been there, and I’m going to share my story in a few episodes.
I promise you that I know what it’s like to be at rock bottom. I know what it’s like to be lost. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re trapped and there is no way out. So believe me, I know it’s not easy.
The very first thing that I had to do was refocus my mindset. That was so hard because I had left it so long, but it was the thing that helped me turn things around. It’s really so important that you focus on resetting where your head’s at so that you can slowly start to build back the energy and the belief in yourself that you can achieve whatever you want to achieve. All because most people aren’t in that mindset. I wasn’t in that mindset when I first decided to leave my corporate job.
We all already know how to do this. We all already know how to show up as our best selves because we’ve done it before. We might’ve lost sight of that person, but you know that person. You’ve been that person before. Just think of a time in your life when everything was just clicking right where you were getting killer results, where you felt confident, where you were just on all the time. What was your mindset like? What did you believe about yourself and your situation?
So this first stage is taking the time to reconnect with that part of you that operates at your best. This part is so important, but most of the time people don’t want to start there. They want to start taking “tangible action.” Write a resume, meet with people, and write a plan. I get that makes you feel like you’re moving forward because you know it’s this tangible action, it feels like you’re doing something.
But let me ask you this – If you knew that 80% of your project success, your team’s success, your family’s success, or your financial success was centered in one area, wouldn’t you think about focusing on that area first? Wouldn’t you think about putting all your energy there first? Of course, you would. Any logical person would. So when it comes to doing anything, focusing on your mindset will always give you the best return on your hustle. Always.
When it comes to taking back control of your career, start with the mindset first. It’s a starting place. You’re not going to answer a few questions or watch a few videos or listen to a few podcasts and say, “Oh my God, I’m totally in control of my mindset. I got this and nailed this thing in two weeks.”
The goal in this first stage is really just to start you on the path to opening your mind to what’s possible in your career and also getting you more focused on where your opportunities are. Focused on what’s working for you versus what’s not working for you and focus on what’s there in front of you versus what’s missing. It’s just a tweak on how you look at things. That’s really the goal in this first stage, to get you more focused on the opportunities and thinking constructively.
I’m not going to be able to take you through the entire process that I work through with my clients, but I am going to give you three areas to focus on and I want to give you a little homework to get you started.
If you’re interested in going deeper on this topic, then definitely subscribe to the podcast because career mindset is one of the core categories of content that I’m going to be covering as we go through future episodes. At the end of this podcast, I’m going to give you some other opportunities that you can use to take this work further.
But for now, let’s get this process kicked off. I’m going to give you three areas to start focusing on your mindset and in each area, I’m going to give you a little bit of homework. Don’t worry, you can’t write all this down right now because I’m going to put it all in the show notes @thecareerreset.com/03.
The first place I recommend you start focusing is on what you believe about your career. Because what you believe about yourself and your career creates your reality.
If you believe you’re not good at something, then you’re never going to be good at it. If you believe you’ll only ever reach a certain level of success, then that’s probably what’s going to happen. If you believe that you can’t connect with a specific person or a specific kind of person, then that’s going to become your reality. If you believe that you can take back control of your career, you will. If you believe that something is easy or fun or opportunity, then it is.
Your first assignment is to go into your notebook or a Google Doc or whatever makes sense for you and just make two columns. The first is how you feel today and the second column is how you feel when you’re at your best. So this is two different versions of how you think. There’s the current version of you and how you think today and there’s the version of you when you’re at your best. There might be some similarities between those two versions and there are going to be some differences.
In each column, you’re going to answer the question, what do you believe about your career? You can list as many beliefs as you can in both columns. Don’t hold back, just let it flow. List the good, the bad, and the ugly. What do you believe about who you are? What you can do? What do you believe about your opportunities? What do you believe about what you’re in control of and what you’re not in control of? What do you believe about the people around you?
All of these things that make up your career and you’re going to do this for the current version of how you think today and how you think when you’re at your best. I want you to know that as you’re writing these things down, none of these things have to be true.
Regardless of the column you’re choosing for them to be true, the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the ugly stuff are all your choices. Consider that, but just write down what’s going on with you right now and realize everything that you’re writing down is a choice that you’re making. That’s your first assignment.
Second, let’s talk about failure. I know, so exciting. I love talking about failure. NOT. Anyway, failure is something that you need to take head-on because the fear of failing is the main thing that holds most people back. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of judgment. Fear of not being good enough. They’re all connected to failure.
Just like when we covered beliefs, you get to choose what you make failure mean. You get to choose what you believe about failure. The big challenge with failure is that we take it personally when really just because something failed doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means something failed. Something failed in the process, something failed with your approach. It’s not personal, it’s not about you, it’s about whatever happened.
You are in total control of what you make failure mean to you. You can make it mean something’s wrong with you or you can make it mean something simple that needs to be tweaked in your process or how you approach things. Those are choices that you have.
The first thing I would suggest to you is to reflect on why you feel how you feel about failure. Why do you fear it? Why is it scary? Is your fear based on something real or something that you’re making up in your head? Something that’s probably not possible or realistic.
The second thing here is to go back to that chart you started with the beliefs. That chart with the two columns. I’m going to answer this question – How do you feel about failure? How do you feel about failure, today’s version of you, and how do you feel about failure when you’re operating at your best?
And the last topic I’m going to cover today is about results. Again, go back to the two columns and just answer this question – What kind of results are you getting today? And then ask yourself, what kind of results am I getting when I’m at my best?
The result could be anything. Anything that you did that has an outcome. It could be how a certain conversation went, how you managed a meeting, how you handled a tough situation or a sudden change, or how you managed or led a situation with your team. Any outcome that’s based on your actions creates results. Not the actions of others, just your actions. It’s not like, “Well, so and so did this. That’s why this happened.” It’s not about that.
Any outcome that’s based on your actions and even if someone else was involved, your actions also led to those results. So think about the actions that you took that created the results. You had a role to play in how you showed up for that result, and that’s what you’re focusing on right now. How you are showing up? Write down the kind of results you’re getting today versus the kind of results you’re getting when you’re showing up at your best.
Now that you’ve done all this work, once you go through all of this, just take a moment and take a look at everything you wrote down and then see what kind of insights you can pull from that. Share your insights. Share them in the comments on the show notes at thecareerreset.com/03 and I’m guaranteeing you right now that you are going to get something out of this exercise.
You are absolutely going to have an aha moment as you’re looking at the two columns and realizing some shifts that you could be making. It’s that string of aha moments that really helps you build a strong mindset, which leads to a successful career that you are ultimately in control of. Even though doing this exercise might only give you a handful of aha moments, keep your radar up.
Keep watching yourself. Keep thinking to yourself and asking yourself, “Why do I believe that? Does that need to be true? What am I making this mean right now? If I’m a little afraid of failing at this. Why am I afraid of failing at this? Okay, this is the kind of result I need today. How do I need to show up to get that kind of result?”
Keep asking yourself these kinds of questions every day. And you know what? You might forget to ask yourself. Some days you might lose perspective, you might blow it, but every day you’re going to catch yourself more and more often. The key is just to start noticing. And the more you start noticing, the more you’re going to start making shifts in how you show up.
That’s it for today, my friends. I am so looking forward to hearing about the kinds of shifts that are happening for you.
In the next episode, we’ll move on to talking about everyone’s favorite subject, the big question: How do I know what I want? Until then, take care of yourself and remember you are as amazing as you believe you are. I’ll talk to you next time. Bye for now.