Had a haphazard career? Here’s how to tie it together

Have you had a haphazard career? A side step here, an unconventional job there and eventually, the giant leap to owning your own business?

Often we judge our careers in lineal terms – as if it only makes sense and only has value, if we have follow the socially expected progression from one rung of the career ladder to the next.

Many of us have careers that look more like crazy paving than a straight line. And I’m a firm believer that every path you’ve taken is important to where you are today. Every opportunity to learn and grow has given you something you can call on in your business.

This is what author Pam Slim calls your “body of work”. It’s the unique and beautiful tapestry woven from the threads of all your learning and experience.

I believe that valuing ALL of your body of work is an essential part of communicating your real value to your customers – and inspiring them to take action. You need to look at the successes and triumphs as well as the crazy career moves, or things you wish you’d done differently. You need to look outside of your career, to your personal achievements, your interests and hobbies, to the things that make you come alive.

The key is identifying what links your body of work together – I call it your Golden Thread. Some of your career or life choices might seem completely unrelated, but in my experience there is always a way to tie the essential elements together.

Your Golden Thread is the single idea at the heart of you work. It’s the idea that you return to time after time, in different forms and sometimes subconsciously.

One of my clients had been a real estate agent for many years when she decided to retrain as a holistic massage therapist.

While she loved her new work, when it came to writing her website or talking about her new business, she didn’t know how to bring her diverse life experience into a compelling story. Real estate and massage therapy were completely different. How could she bring together her experience as a business woman and her passion for holistic massage, in a way that was credible and professional?

We looked over her career and I asked her to identify the tasks she most enjoyed in each of her roles – as well as the ones she loathed. We looked at what brought her a sense of fulfillment and really drilled down into the underlying source of joy and enrichment. We looked at when she thrived – and also when she struggled.

Patterns began to emerge from her answers and soon we had identified a strong theme: She thrived and felt most enriched and fulfilled when she was helping her clients through a life transition.

In real estate, she loved making the sale of course, but she felt most satisfied when she worked with clients who were moving into a new phase of life. Sometimes this meant releasing attachment to the family home and embracing a small apartment – and old age. Other times it meant letting go of those single and free 20-something days, by swapping a convertible for a minivan and a family home in the ‘burbs.

She often found herself having long conversations, listening to her clients’ worries and offering suggestions to help them move forward with ease.

In massage therapy she was drawn to those who were struggling with a new phase of life, whether it was new parenthood, separation and divorce, an empty nest or retirement.

Understanding that she thrived and felt most enriched when she helped people through life’s transitions was a lightbulb moment – and it changed everything in her business.

Now she knew – really knew – how she helped her clients. She knew how to talk to her clients to let them know she could help them. She had a clear direction for her blog and social media posts – and the ideas started flowing.

Suddenly her ‘competitors’ seemed anything but. Now that she knew what set her apart and how to position herself in the market place, they felt like more like colleagues who shared her passion for holistic massage. And she began connecting with her clients right where they needed her most.

So what’s your Golden Thread? To help you find it, I’ve prepared a free workbook. It’s part of my Write from the Heart Collection – a treasury of free writing resources to help you get clear on your message, write from the heart, grow your tribe and make an impact.   Click here to get your password. And once you’ve got your Golden Thread, post it in the comments below.

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