New Tricks: Building Your Career Skills

In your 40s, folks tend to get introspective and address questions that may have needled them for a while. Questions like, “Am I happy in my career,” or “Is there another profession I’d like to explore?”

For some, these questions don’t get examined until they’re on the unlucky end of a company downsize—or worse, fired. In which case the scarier question of “What the hell do I do now?” catapults them into a different headspace. Add on ageism and financial insecurity and that’s a triple, fear-factor whammy. But why wait for that to happen?

To get you out from behind a career 8-ball, career coach Kathy Gonzales advises that while you’re employed , do something  that you’re afraid to do–either at work or outside of  your profession.  Why? Because in the process of doing it you’ll open yourself up to new perspectives, build new skills, and learn something that you thought you knew but didn’t. “There is gold in those opportunities,” says Gonzales, who’s been coaching for four years. She also says that those who have the most success are the ones who move on their ideas and desires before there’s a sense of urgency. They heed their own siren sound.

If you’re at a career crossroads it may be because you feel disengaged, unchallenged and that your greatest talents are untapped. So how do you move from being uninspired to revitalized? “The short answer is you build trust in yourself. And trust is a word that we understand at a very deep level,” says Gonzales.  It may be a little seed but she says, “It’s about having a trust in what you’re capable of doing. You need to have an unwavering sense that you can make it happen.” Hence, when your inner calling comes knocking:  answer. Invite it in for tea. Get to know it.  Like any relationship, it’ll take time but in that time you’ll build your own reserves of willpower and trust.

Anytime is a good time to develop yourself and learn new skills that’ll carry you higher up the company ladder or on to more blissful career pastures. Case in point?  Three years ago Susan Ross seized the opportunity to transition from a 30-year career in television when the company she worked for restructured. Given the option to stay, her greater desire was to return to teaching, which she’d done in the past. She left, began teaching part-time at Ryerson and capitalized on those skills with a goal of developing herself as a career coach. She enrolled in the International Coaching Federation program to obtain the proper accreditation and three months ago created Susan Ross Coaching.

Both of these coaches will tell you that setting goals and developing a plan are keys to increasing your skills and transitioning yourself so it’s you who is creating your next move. Another is to network while you have a job and not when you need a job. Dip your toe into an ocean of possibilities before you find yourself sinking in a well of despair. Most importantly, trust in yourself.

As the Dalai Lama said, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”