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Celebrating Your Career Independence.  Inertia or Design?

Like most of you, I’m preparing to spend this long weekend relaxing, catching up on some long-neglected chores and enjoying some traditional July 4th fare, hotdogs, apple pie and lemonade.

I did give some thought about the reason for our celebration. I think many of us, because of more immediate concerns about work, family and our future, don’t fully appreciate the freedoms that we enjoy and seem to take for granted. Then the thought occurred to me that there might be a way for us, all of us, to more fully appreciate what our forefathers went through, endured and fought for so that we, the people, could indeed claim our “inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And it has to do with our careers. Let me explain.

As an executive coach, I meet many individuals whose sentiment regarding employment supports the findings of numerous surveys and studies; the majority of our workforce is not happy. They are not happy with their job, their boss, their co-workers, their chance for advancement, or their prospects for the future. They are working but are not satisfied. There is no joy. There seems to be a disconnect between what people do for a living and the idea of a “right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  Much of my coaching with career-transitioning professionals is geared to helping my clients discover (or become aware) of what really makes them tick.  Envisioning the optimal outcome.  Tapping the desire to grab life and career by the horns by designing their future, and not be guided by inertia.  It all starts with awareness.

Speaking of self-awareness, in his award winning book, We Are All Self-Employed, Cliff Hakim suggests that “The drastically changing world of work demands a new social contract – one that says we are all self-employed whether we work inside or outside of organizations. Approaching the marketplace as an Independent problem-solver can be an aid when searching for work that is meaningful and relevant.”

To see if you have the proper mindset to be self-employed or independent in how you approach your work, Hakim has put together the following Self-Employed Inventory. Ask yourself these questions. If you can answer “Yes” to most then consider yourself having the self-employed mindset and address the questions that you answered “No”. If you answer “No” to most then you have a good idea of where you need to improve in order to have the self-employed mindset.

  • Do you believe that your current job is not guaranteed or that you will not have the same customers forever?
  • Do you go beyond your job description?
  • Do you volunteer for projects?
  • Do you identify problems?
  • Do you initiate solutions?
  • Do you look beyond the hours you work to the task or job that needs to be done?
  • Do you seek out others with whom to share ideas and advice?
  • Do you take an inventory of your skills every four to six months?
  • Do you ask your customers – on a regular basis – what you can do to improve your service delivery or product quality?
  • Do you enjoy what you do at least two-thirds of the time?
  • Do you make it a point to learn something new every week?
  • Do you ask questions rather than simply accept what comes your way?
  • Do you develop flexible action plans as you assess your options to change?
  • Do you believe that you are responsible for your career or job?

What matters here is not “how” you did, as much as if this created some new sense of awareness for you.  What have you learned about yourself?  What can you do to take control? Based on your answers, do you have a self-employed mindset? Would you consider yourself Career Independent? If so, then celebrating Independence Day has a great deal of meaning to you. If you do not have the self-employed mindset, do you want to begin to work on it so that next July 4th you too can declare your own independence?

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