What to Ask Yourself if You’re Questioning Your Career Path

You’re not completely sold that you’re on the right career path, but the idea of making a change is daunting. There are so many unknowns and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Plus, if you do decide to change course, will you have to take a step back to develop the necessary skills?

Wondering if you have the time and energy required to transition into the right career path may be a valid concern, but it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a path you love. Before you make a switch, ask yourself the following three questions.

1. Are You Developing a Competitive Advantage?

In The Start-up of You, authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha teach that we’re all entrepreneurs of our own careers. They argue that to become competitive in today’s global market, it’s critical to understand your assets (what you’re good at,) your aspirations (what you want to do,) and the market realities (what people will pay you for.)

Having only one or two isn’t enough. You need all three to develop a true competitive advantage. Know your assets and aspirations in light of the market realities—then pursue a path that maximizes all three.

2. How Often Do You Think About Work Outside of Work?

The importance of this question is best illustrated through a story. Henry Eyring, a former business professor at Stanford University, tells how he ended up choosing his path. His father, who was a renowned scientist and professor, hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. In Eyring’s words: “My father was [teaching physics] at a blackboard we kept in the basement…Suddenly he stopped. ‘Hal,’ he said, ‘we were working the same kind of problem a week ago. You don’t seem to understand it any better now than you did then. Haven’t you been working on it?’”

Eyring admitted he had not. His father then said: “When you walk down the street, when you’re in the shower, when you don’t have to be thinking about anything else, isn’t this what you think about?”

“When I told him no,” Eyring concludes, “my father paused…then said, ‘Hal, I think you’d better get out of physics. You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.’”

To be successful you don’t need to obsess about your job 24/7, but if you’re only thinking about your job during the hours of 9 to 5, it may be a sign you’re on the wrong path.

3. What Does Your Career Path Look Like 10 Years Down the Road?

Think of those in your company or industry who are more senior than you. Do you eventually want to be doing the type of work they’re doing?

If you don’t know what your current path looks like, schedule an informational interview with someone more experienced. These informal meetings are a great way to find out what you can expect in the future. Consider asking people what they like most about their job, the types of projects they work on, and what advice they’d give to someone in your shoes.

Your answers to these questions will help you understand whether you should double your efforts in your current job or start figuring out your next move.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you are questioning your career path. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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15 Better Get-to-Know-You Questions for Your Co-Workers

Maybe you’re brand new on your team, or maybe, you’ve been around for a while, but you really don’t know all that much about the people you work with. Either way, it’s time to pull out some get-to-know-you questions. First, because it’s more fun to work with people you feel bonded to, but second, it’s an excellent strategy to be connected to the people who see your work closely. You will all end up being part of a career network that will last your entire career. In other words, connecting with the people around you is both a better way to enjoy your work and also a more sophisticated career strategy. Throw a couple of these prompts out and get ready to bond with your colleagues on a whole new level.

Strictly Business

1.What do you do at [Company] and when and where can we find synergy?

2.What’s a professional skill you’re currently working on?

3. What’s your go-to productivity trick?

4. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

5. What was your first job?

A Little More Personal

6. If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something what would it be?

7. If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?

8. How do you turn things around when you’re having a bad day?

9. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

10. What’s something you’ve done, but will never do again?

Just for Fun

11. Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)?

12. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

13. If you could choose a name for yourself, what would it be?

14. If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

15. If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

It can be tough to think of questions that go beyond, “What did you do this weekend?” or “It’s a little cold in here today, isn’t it?” Bookmark this list to foster a reputation as the co-worker who can always get an awesome conversation started.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you create a better team environment. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Questions to Ask Yourself If You Are Uncertain About Your Career Path

Do you sometimes feel uncertain about your career path, yet find the idea of making a change daunting? The time, energy, and strategy required to transition into the right career path may cause hesitation, but this shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a path that engages you. Before you begin a career transition, ask yourself the following questions:

Am I Developing a Competitive Advantage?

In The Start-up of You, authors Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha teach that we’re all entrepreneurs of our own careers. They argue that to become competitive in today’s global market, it’s critical to understand your assets, your aspirations, and the industry realities. 

It’s important to think of these three aspects as puzzle pieces. Having only one or two is not enough. You need all three to develop a competitive advantage. You’ve likely heard the axiom, “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This may be true for some, but blindly following passion can lead to an unsustainable career. Know your assets, aspirations, and realities—then pursue a path that exemplifies all three.

How Often Do I Think About Work Outside of Work?

This question is best illustrated through a story. Henry Eyring, a former business professor at Stanford University, tells how he ended up choosing his path. His father, a renowned scientist, and professor hoped his son would follow in his footsteps. In Eyring’s words: “My father was [teaching physics] at a blackboard we kept in the basement…Suddenly he stopped. ‘Hal,’ he said, ‘we were working the same kind of problem a week ago. You don’t seem to understand it any better now than you did then. Haven’t you been working on it?’” Eyring admitted he had not. His father then said: “When you walk down the street when you’re in the shower when you don’t have to be thinking about anything else, isn’t this what you think about?” “When I told him no,” Eyring concludes, “my father paused…then said, ‘Hal, I think you’d better get out of physics. You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.’”

To be successful you don’t need to obsess about your job 24/7, but if you’re only thinking about your job during the hours of 9 to 5, it may be a sign you’re on the wrong path.

“Where Will This Career Path Take Me 10 Years Down the Line?”

A long-term view of your career is critical because many jobs change as you advance in your field. If you don’t know what your current path looks like, schedule a 25-minute phone session with one of the Ignite Your Potential coaches. These sessions are a great way to find out what you can expect in the future.

Your answers to these questions will help you understand whether you should double your efforts in your current job or start figuring out your next move. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session that will help you find your perfect career path. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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The Best Productivity Books to Read

It is halfway through August 2019, that means it is time to finish the year strong and productive.

The Ignite Your Potential coaches looked at data on Goodreads to identify 6 of the best productivity books recommended by their community of 85 million readers. From research on the science of forming habits to tips from an expert who works with World Series champions, these highly-rated books are sure to be your guide to a more productive life at work and at home.

1. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

James Clear demonstrates how the ability to create good habits—and break bad ones—can lead to a more productive personal and professional life. He backs up his scientific research with entertaining true stories from Olympic athletes, physicians, artists, and business leaders who have all mastered this skill. The key? Learning to think about your own identity in a new way.

2. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

The bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist offers life-changing, illustrated advice and encouragement on how to stay creative, whether you’re facing personal burnout or bogged down by distractions. Fans of this short but inspiring book state that it’s “a reminder of what we need to do to remain creative despite the chaos of the world around us.”

3. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

If you’re very easily distracted and interested in using your time more productively, this is the book for you. From the author of Deep Work comes a guide for anyone looking to escape the endless distractions of cell phones, computers, smart watches, and more. This Georgetown professor will introduce you to the “less is more” philosophy, using stories of modern digital minimalists to prove his point.

4. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

According to Stanford lecturer Kelly McGonigal, the key to unlocking powerful resolve is in our hands. She explains why just five minutes of exercise or one minute of slow breathing can give anyone a boost of willpower. Goodreads members say McGonigal has “a knack for communicating difficult science in lay terms with a sense of humor to boot.”

5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

For award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg, the ability to form healthy habits drives every type of success, whether you want to manage a great team or build an influential product. In this book, he uses groundbreaking scientific research to explain why and how habits can unlock anyone’s potential.

6. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

The simple checklist is more powerful than we realize, according to award-winning multitasker Atul Gawande. The surgeon and Harvard professor shows us the true power of this common productivity tool, from helping set realistic goals in our daily lives to guiding global business decisions. The modern world is full of too many complexities, Gawande argues, but a checklist, when used correctly, can provide clarity and focus.

We hope these book recommendations will inspire you to finish 2019 on a positive, productive note. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find ways to increase your end of year productivity. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Stuck in a Work Rut? Get Out of It!

Before you start looking for a new job, try these four ideas for getting your head back in the game and rediscover your sense of being centered and empowered.

Figure Out the Root of the Problem

Before you can get out of a rut, you have to figure out why you’re in it. This means self-evaluating. When did you start feeling this way? Was it after a poorly received presentation? A change in responsibilities? Also, keep in mind that the cause might not have anything to do with work. Once you identify the cause of your unhappiness, you will be better able to handle it.

Focus on Self-Care

Taking care of yourself can solve a lot of smaller problems. That means making sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating right. At work, take breaks and make it a point to eat lunch away from your computer screen. Self-care is a part of self-management and building resilience.

Remember Why You Wanted the Job

It’s easy to forget why you were excited about your role or the company in the beginning. Take the time to remember the reason this job is important to your big picture strategic plan.

Take a Break

Even if you can’t swing a weeklong trip, plan a quick weekend getaway. Getting out of your routine can clear your mind and help you refocus. It can seem counter-intuitive, but we need rest to allow our brain to recover. We will be sharper upon our return.

After reading this article if you are inspired to take your career to the next level, remember that all of the award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you meet your life goals and career goals. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

3 Ways to Take Your Career to the Next Level

If you have been struggling to take the next step in your career, know that you have not exhausted all of your options. The Ignite Your Potential career-coaching professionals have curated three simple tips that are guaranteed to help you.

1. Relocate

The reality is, sometimes, you have to relocate to move up. No matter how hard you work or how much potential you show, it can be tough convincing people you are worth more when they have seen you in the same position for so long.

2. Add New Skills

Many employers will help you gain more skills and may even reimburse you for tuition or an educational course. It is also important to note that many qualifications can be studied during the evenings, to refrain from interfering with work. Knowledge is power and the more you expand your expertise, the more valuable you become to an employer.

3. Network

The saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” still rings true today. Networking is an important ingredient to success, so be sure to make new connections in the industry as often as you can. There are several ways to network, including attending conferences and taking part in team-building exercises. When networking at company events you could be entrusted with more responsibility, projects, and considered for promotions.

After reading this article, may you be inspired to take your career to the next level. And remember, all of the award winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you meet your life goals and career goals. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise. Contact us at either of our locations, SF: (415) 343-4658 and LA: (310) 602-7612.

Level Up Your Note Taking: Make the Next Meeting Matter

First Things First

You likely spend time in meetings, and maybe some of you, a majority of your work life is within meetings. We’ve all experienced the draining, demoralizing feeling when a meeting is not productive. So before we begin to discuss best practices in note taking for said meetings, I want to turn you on to these useful tips by David Grady that help you attend less meetings and make sure, before you even attend, that they will be useful. Here is his hilarious TED talk called How to Save the World (or at Least Yourself) from Bad Meetings.

note taking

However, when you are in productive meetings, why might you want to make sure your note taking is masterful?

  • It will help you be more engaged and focused.
  • You will remember and capture needed information.
  • You will document proof that certain things did in fact occur.
  • Excellent note taking allows strategic thinking to emerge.

Upfront Guidelines

Your job when taking notes is to listen for and summarize key messages regarding:

  • Action Items,
  • Decisions,
  • Learnings,
  • Context, and
  • Notes relevant to you.

The whole purpose is for your learning and reference. Do not go in depth, you are not a court reporter. Less is more. Take partial notes that you can fill in after the meeting. In other words, write down enough to trigger your memory.

Preparation

Block ten minutes before the meeting for preparation. Ask yourself the follow questions and consider beginning your notes for the meeting at this stage.

  • The person leading the meeting, what are their objectives and agenda?
  • What are your objectives or agenda for the meeting?
  • What do you need to bring: discussion points, check-in data, etc?
  • Are there questions you need answered?
  • What would success look like for this meeting?

Block ten minutes after the meeting to synthesize your notes. Organize your to do’s, next steps, and deadlines in your tools of choice (project management software, calendar, app, etc.)

note taking

What Must be Captured

  • Action Items. To do’s, tasks, action requests. Keep this as clear as possible: Person X to do (specific task details) by (due date.) Who is suppose to do, what, by when.
  • Decisions. Outcomes and decisions agreed by the group.
  • Learnings, or follow-ups to learn something.
  • Intel, Observations, Strategy in summary.

Questions to Get the Right Info

While you never want to ask questions that take the meeting off course, there are questions that help clarify, keep you engaged, and help the meeting stay productive. Here are just a few that can help:

  • “Can someone please state the decision we’re making?”
  • “Can we recap decisions and next steps?
  • Use reflective listening. “Am I hearing that Barb will own X and Ted will deliver Z by this date?”
  • Ask the speaker clarifying questions that have them state key takeaways. “What do you think are the most important takeaways?”

Best Note Taking Apps in 2019

Using the best and most appropriate tools for the job at hand is an important aspect. Here are the best note taking apps in 2019.

Conclusion

note taking

Becoming masterful at taking notes in meetings means that you have all the information you need to do your job well. This basic skill is one that will set you apart and have you be more effective in your role. Topics and skills just like this are part of the support you can expect from an Ignite Your Potential career coach.

 

2019: The Year of Your Career

At the start of a new year there’s often a refreshed outlook and a sense of renewal. Part of this process involves career.  As the year begins though, do you find yourself going back to work after holiday vacation feeling a sense of dread as though you are about to endure another year in your career? Or are you stoked to get back to the contribution you’re a part of? What is your sentiment as you begin again?

Whatever your perspective or attitude, this time of year can be a fantastic time to refresh your career, your career outlook, or refine your career goals. Our team of career coaches at Ignite Your Potential can help you do this, and we’ve started this process for you, by sharing ways you can freshen your career for the New Year.

Clean Up Your Work Tools 

The first way to freshen your career is to clean up the tools you use most each and every day. Having unanswered emails, a crowded inbox, a messy desk, or unused apps on your phone is clutter in the workflow that slows us down. Here are tasks to clean your work tools:

  • Empty or organize your worktexts, emails, cloud folders, app notifications, and workspace.
  • De-clutter your online life by getting rid of software accounts you don’t use and unsubscribe from their marketing emails.
  • Organize your files and papers.
  • Revamp your work wardrobe. Get rid of items you no longer wear, that are too big, have a hole and you have yet to fix (or fix it), overall, purge your wardrobe of clothes that no longer serve you.

Refresh Your Career Documents

Whether you’re interested in potentially changing career paths, or see no career change on your horizon, updating your resumé and revamping your cover letter is a great way to prepare yourself for what opportunities could lie in the year ahead. You may be up for a promotion, you could be scouted, or one day you may have the urge to see what’s out there.

Ignite Your Potential features a team of expert career coaches who can help you update and improve your resumé, write or revise a cover letter, set your New Year career goals, or simply offer you the career advice you didn’t know you needed. Contact us today for a career boost!

Set a Clear Vision and Actionable Goals new year

Moving into the New Year, you probably have some old items on your to-do list that you weren’t able to get done. You may have some career goals you didn’t reach or your vision for your career changed. All of these are fine, they are part of what happens for all of us, and not any reason to beat yourself up. In fact, the New Year offers an opportunity to reset our goals and create a new vision. We can think in an actionable way about what’s next. It’s time to set fresh objectives informed by what you’ve experienced in 2018 to make a stronger plan that doesn’t fizzle out. Maybe 2019 is the year you get a new planner. 

Streamline Areas of Your Life to Impact Your Career

Think about your daily routine throughout this past year. Really deep dive into your day to day processes, duties, personal workflow, etc. Think strategically about ways you can make certain tasks or processes easier for you. For example, if you pack your lunch every day and take home the dirty container to add to your dishes later that night, try washing them at work instead so that you can just bring them home and reuse them for the next day. Find yourself carrying a briefcase or heavy purse every day full of things you don’t necessarily use or need to tote around? Try paying attention to the different items in your purse or briefcase you use on the regular, and if you discover unnecessary items, put them in their rightful place. If you think about your routine, the patterns that make up every day, you will discover strategies to create a more efficient personal workflow.

Get Inspirednew year

One of the best parts of the New Year is that it’s a time that offers us the opportunity to purge ourselves from the tribulations of the past year, take all of our lessons, and apply them to the year ahead. Every year reveals aspects of your career and life that no longer suits you, teaches you things you needed to know, and equips you with tools for your future. It’s time to let go of baggage you no longer need. Though setting “resolutions” in your career, or in general, may seem cliché to some, and are often abandoned shortly after, it doesn’t have to be this way. Making positive change happens incrementally, and seeing it this way, helps you keep the momentum to work toward your goals. Don’t make tons of changes all at once. Start by making little tweaks to your habits so that staying aligned with your goals is sustainable for you.

Ready to Freshen Your Career in a Big Way?

Ignite Your Potential can help you discover and build your career vision, assist you to find your passion, and help create a plan that stimulates exciting and empowering change in your career and life. If you’re ready to make 2019: the year of your career, contact us by filling out the form below:

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