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22 November 2019

Georgina Kvassay is one of Gradvert's Facilitators, and works across a number of clients to help them ensure that their employees are ready for the future of work. Today she shares her thoughts on remembering your why.

At the moment I'm working with several graduates on a Level 3 Leadership programme, alongside Gradvert. As part of the coaching session, we talk about goals and aspirations; more often than not, these seem to be totally job-oriented: to get more responsibility; to move up to the next level; to continue to learn and develop. They do have their whole career ahead of them and to continue to learn and progress is a big focus for them.

By contrast, I am struck by the number of people that I coach who are in their early to mid-forties who already feel that they have worked their way up the career ladder, have more responsibility, are earning more money and then turn around and say 'what have I done with my life?', 'why am I here' and 'what's the purpose?'.

This reminds me of the importance of Simon Sinek's great TED talk and book on 'Start With Why'. Helping organisations to think about WHY they do things, as opposed to how they do them or what they do. Understanding your cause, purpose or belief encourages people to trust you and your product.

The other day I was coaching a senior leader and she was working on her goal setting. She came to me with the purpose of preparing for her performance appraisal. The goals were all stretching goals, following the SMART targets that would all be great for the organisation. However, part way through our session, I stopped her and asked, 'but what is it that you want?'. She was totally baffled by this as no one had ever asked her what she wanted.

Following this, came an outpouring of ideas about using her skills and knowledge in the charity sector which is something she'd always been passionate about, but had never known how to progress. A few weeks after us talking through her options and agreeing a plan, she emailed to thank me as she had secured a role spending a number of days out of the year using her skills and knowledge to work for a charity aligned to the organisation, on top of her current job.

By asking her the right questions, the seeds were sown leading to a fantastic opportunity which not only increased her commitment and loyalty to the organisation, but has given people below her, opportunities to step up and also develop.

So, how do we find our why?

The first step in finding your why is to actually stop and take time to reflect. In today's busy world, we're so busy racing around that we rarely take time to stop and reflect. Think about what is important to you at this moment in time, whether that be financial reward; work-life balance; recognition or continuous learning. Then rate what your current role is giving you for each of these out of 10 and prioritise these in order of importance. You will then be able to see what you need or want to change based on this. 

The next step is to create a plan. Regardless of whether it's to exit the organisation; get a promotion; change roles; work from home; or to gain a qualification, you need to recognise what it is you want to achieve. Who can help you? What options are available? When are you going to do it by? Holding yourself accountable for your own development and career goals to make them a priority will stand you in good stead.

The problem is that the day job can take over. Take time on a regular basis to review what is important to you. This will change as your life develops, so do it soon to take away the fear factor of turning around at any age, wondering what your purpose is in life!

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