I'm a logical person - a science background, followed by being an accountant for 10+ years means there's no escaping that facts and data make me happy.
And so for me, when things weren't feeling 'right' in my career, it was quite disconcerting not to be able to think my way out of it.
People kept telling me that I'd just 'know' when I'd found the thing that excited me, but for someone who thrives on lists, diagrams and spreadsheets, that just didn't work.
And that's why, when I coach people now, there is a focus on planning, research, and yes, list making.
(Obviously there is also plenty of time for exploring, testing out, and getting a feel for things - we're not robots! Even the most logical minded person gains clarity from experiencing different viewpoints, environments and opportunities).
But before you can get to that stage of exploring ideas, and trying things out, there is often that "career limbo" stage - that space where there is just too much going on in your head to allow you to plan anything.
If this is ringing bells for you, I've got 3 simple tools to help you create a bit of headspace so that you can working through your ideas rather than downing in them....
1. Mind Maps
Yep, an oldie but a goodie. Just put something like "ideas" in the middle, and brain dump everything around it. You can then go back and highlight / circle the ones that jump out, you can draw connections between similar thoughts or ideas or even tick things off once you've thought about them a bit more. You can even use post its for the ideas and then move them around after - the possibilities are hug - and it's one of my favourite tools!
2. Pros / Cons list
Another simple one, but it can be useful if you are deciding between 2 courses of action. It's also useful for identifying assumptions so make sure what's on your list is really true, and not just what you are assuming is true....How can you test out your assumptions? Who do you need to talk to in order to understand what might be behind the things that you are seeing as negatives? And how sure are you about the positives? Can you test these out to confirm they are definitely as positive as you think they are?
3. If this, then that....
If you are struggling to see beyond the next step then this can be useful. Imagine you take a specific action - what COULD happen next? And then for each of those options, what COULD the next step be? It's useful for expanding your thought process and opening up your mind to new possibilities. Think of it as an upside down funnel, kind of like a decision tree in reverse - an expansion of ideas, rather than a narrowing down of options. This can be helpful if you are feeling like 1 particular option is too restrictive, or too risky.
Give them a go and see which work for you.
Getting things out of your head and down onto the page helps create space in your mind for you to actually think things through - and then you can start creating plans to move forward, one step at a time.