Much of the work I do as coach is to help clients align their interests and values with how they want to work, lead, and live their own life. I know the last 18+ months have brought new experiences, ideas, and questions of — what do I really want to do now?
In my past academic life, I directed my students to the MyNextMove website (a branch of the O*NET Online) if they wanted to understand occupational pathways and how their academic majors might impact their career direction(s). For those who were “not really sure,” I recommended the O*NET Interest Profiler to allow folks to learn more about their interests and help direct their own career exploration. I hoped these resources would anchor to some self-assessment and research for what is available. Many learners who were early and mid-career, found these tools helpful if they needed a starting point or felt completely unsure. Although, I’m still a fan of identifying interests and skills — I’m reminded how important it is to NOT narrow your options during the self-discovery phase. If we jump to filtering these interests based on occupational roles, organizations, or even industries — there seems to be limitations placed on the “what’s next?” and this removes any openness towards possibilities for “what if…?” instead.
After listening to a recent Hello Monday episode, I picked up Jonathan Field’s new book Sparked: Discover Your Unique Imprint for Work that Makes You Come Alive and joined a virtual workshop to learn more about this what it means to be “Sparked.” As a career coach, I appreciate how this book wraps around these central questions:
- What could I do with my life?
- How do I want to grow and develop in my career?
- What work fills you with meaning and purpose?
- What do you want to do to feel alive and absorbed daily?
What you learn about each type from the assessment results — your primary, shadow, and anti-type — is organized to help move us towards work that let’s us be our best, true self. The five domains shared in this book identifies how you “come alive” or are “sparked” both personally and professionally with regards to your:
- Purpose: Knowing you’re moving toward something you believe in.
- Engagement: Excitement, energy, & enthusiasm for the pursuit of that something
- Meaningfulness: The feeling that what you do and who you are matters.
- Expressed Potential: The sensation of being fully you and not having to hide, bringing all of your potential to the experience, and leaving nothing untapped.
- Flow: The blissful experience of getting lost in an activity, losing time, and becoming absorbed in the task.
As I ponder my own primary (Maven) and shadow (Maker) Sparketypes, I am thinking more about what is possible for how I use this resource with coaching clients or in my L&D work. For those who are connected to me and follow my work, you can see how and where these two Sparketypes align with my own practice and process:
- Maven: Slogan: I live to learn. Daily Mantra: “I want to learn more than I knew when I first woke up.”
- Maker: Slogan: I make ideas manifest. Daily Mantra: “I want to make something that did not exist before.”
The other piece of this book I am fascinated with that syncs with my coaching practice are examining and assessing the four categories of work:
- Paid Work: part-time, full-time, contract, freelance, consulting, etc.
- Leisure/Fun/Craft: hobbies, sports, activities, and joy in your “time off”
- Roles You’ve Played: the “hats you wear” – caregiver, volunteer, leadership, etc.
- Classes/Courses of Study: edu., workshops, retreats, webinars, training, etc.
Most people might not consider everything on this list to be “work.” But I love the idea of thinking about work that is paid, volunteer, and based around our interests. To unpack these categories further, I would encourage you to reflect on both your professional AND personal life to answer:
- What groups or communities are you connected to?
- What personal interests or hobbies help you grow?
- What projects are you most proud of?
- How did you contribute to a team, org, or interest group?
- What tasks put you in the “flow” when you work?
- How does “fun” enter into your daily life?
- What topics or subjects get your attention?
- What tools, technologies, or platforms do you find fun?
- What processes or experiences do you look fondly back on? (not the end project/product)
You should not be surprised this book has #sparked what I am thinking about for my next project. I think this resource could be fruitful for working 1:1 with clients, but now I wonder how I can scale some of my coaching practice to reach others. More people are reaching out to ask and reflect on working more meaningfully, so I am starting to design a group coaching program for anyone interested in career wayfinding, e.g. pivots, transitions, and transformations.
As a Maven/Maker — I want to bring you along with my in this “process” as I “manifest” these ideas out loud (e.g. blog, podcasts, IG, etc.). I’m currently thinking about a 4 week pilot program end of 2021 or beginning of 2022 to support career discovery and exploration. This coaching program would be targeted at folks mid- to late career who are looking to transition to something new outside their professional domain, industry or role. If you might be interested in this, let me know — and please help me answer some questions as I design this pilot program:
- How are you thinking about your LIFEwork?
- What are the career questions you want to dig into?
- What blockers or challenges are you facing in this transition?
- What would you want to walk away with from a group coaching program on this topic?
I will continue to ponder these questions and share what I develop + launch with y’all. Thanks for any inputs, comments, DMs, or messages in advance!