Many of the twenty two self-coaching exercises in this book are primers for getting at how you really feel about career change. They ‘work’ by compelling you to seek closure (i.e. answers) to what are crafted as open questions. In other words, they invoke responses which are hints about career paths and potentials for you to explore further. They do not seek to deliver universal truths, although you might discover how best to combine vocation with career.
When the process within these exercises works as planned, the self-coaching conversations you have with yourself (or with a trusted partner) act as a kind of inspirational lens that enable you to focus more of your powers of logic, analysis and reasoning on the responses. I placed two specific exercises at the start of the book because they can help to illuminate the reader’s familiar, visible career world of roles and technologies and companies and locations, with their invisible counterparts.
In my experience coaching (and by implication, self-coaching), works well when metaphorical stories open up a new world of possibilities in the same way that a glass prism splits sunlight into the colors of the rainbow.
Exercise one – The Visible Electromagnetic (EM) Spectrum – has the reader focus on the familiar narrowband arena of their present career choice and experience. White light’s seven colors, in their millions of gradations, are a reminder of the career possibilities within just the world of Information Technology (IT). Perhaps even within their current employer too.
Particular colors may have specific but unique meanings or connotations for individual readers. For example, ‘red’ might signify ‘linux’ to one person but represent ‘red alert’ to someone else. And ‘red alert’ might then trigger a variety of IT-related industries, technologies or career roles worth checking out. Somewhat like dream interpretation, the meaning behind the symbols (colors, in this case) will probably be private and unique. That is as it should be.
The second exercise – The Invisible EM Spectrum – goes wide and places the reader in the possibly unfamiliar territory of a career world beyond IT. And, by analogy, the electromagnetic spectrum beyond the visible component suggests a wide field of probable career fields to detect and explore. The sensations of heat and warmth about a promising career change choice are represented by the infrared wavelengths. In contrast, career choices that might be very risky or dangerous to personal finances, relationships, or ability levels exist in the ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma ray regions.
With this type of daydreaming exercise I think it is important to be in a relaxed frame of mind. A psychological state in which possible associations and links between career options and personal desires can be bridged by the metaphors of light, spectrum, invisible, visible and so on. In the business world this type of exercise might be labeled as a brainstorming session, rather than something that suggests daydreaming, ‘unthinking’ and a light trance state. All reflect very similar experiences; so the term is academic, in my opinion.
The primary objective of the two exercises is not to short-circuit the intellectual rigor and logic required when coming to a major life decision such as a career change. However, many people often analyze, dissect, categorize and worry far too much about ‘problems’ like this, to the virtual exclusion of any constructive role for creative aspects of their reasoning processes.
But what if these exercises do not appeal? My response would be to try them out a few times and if results are disappointing, try something else. I give a few alternatives in chapter one.
Please remember that a vital theme running through this book is about learning to trust the creative, associative aspects of your thinking in order to bring you more constructive ideas, suggestions and solutions. These can then be given the attention of your rational logical mind at a time of your choosing. Achieving that balance requires not only trust but practice.