If you’re thinking about transitioning to a new career in midlife, clarity of direction can seem elusive. It can be surprisingly hard to think about your skills, values - even what you love to do - on your own.
If you’re stuck going round and round trying to figure out your next career path, getting feedback from others can give you valuable insights.
Get out of your head and call on your network of fans - those people who know and support you.
We’ve seen time and time again in EvolveMe's Reinvention Collective that when you start asking others who know you well (now or in the past!) to share their take on you objectively – you start believing in your talents and skills. You become open to new possibilities. It often takes an outside perspective to give you the clarity you need.
When Linda worked for a start-up before launching EvolveMe with Judy, the CEO honed in on her marketing and business development skills. This was interesting to Linda, whose entire professional career had been in finance, although she’d majored in marketing as an undergrad. It took someone else to view her strengths objectively and remind her of untapped talents and interests!
Years ago, after Judy had left her nonprofit executive role, she was out with old friends, chatting about her next move. She was surprised to hear them all say the same thing - that she was a community creator and a gatherer of people. Judy used this feedback to shape her journey, ultimately creating EvolveMe with Linda a couple of years later!
Thinking about what others come to you for can also help you zero in on your next move. You’ll see there are skills you take for granted because they’re easy for you. It’s just “who you are.” But, in fact, those strengths are your special sauce.
Ultimately, the goal is to gain diverse outside perspectives and potential opportunities you may have yet to consider.
Here's EvolveMe’s step-by-step guide on how to effectively gather feedback from your network of fans to gain greater clarity on your career direction:
Identify the right people:
Who to turn to? Choose people you trust and respect for their opinions and insights. Consider mentors, close friends, family members, former colleagues, or professionals. Make sure they have a good understanding of your aspirations.
Make a list of 5 people to reach out to from different parts of your life.
Craft Your Questions and Goals:
Prepare questions that address your career goals, potential paths, skill assessments, or any specific concerns you may have. This will help guide the conversation and make the most of their insights!
Try these sample questions:
What do you think is my “special sauce”?
What’s 1 skill I could be known for?
Where do you see me at my best?
What do you think I do better than others (personally or professionally?)
If you had to think of a tagline or theme song for me, what would it be?
Schedule one-on-one conversations:
Reach out to people you've identified and request time for a one-on-one conversation. Whether in person, over the phone, or through zoom, people generally like talking about their perspectives and will share 30 minutes with you. Be specific and tell them why you want to meet so they can think about it beforehand.
Be open to feedback:
Approach the conversation with an open mind and a willingness to receive constructive feedback. Remember that the purpose of seeking input is to gain fresh perspectives and expand your thinking. Embrace new ideas and viewpoints, even if they challenge your current assumptions about who you are. That’s the point!
Reflect and take action:
Take time to identify key themes from the conversations and use them as a foundation for refining your career goals and action plan. Determine the specific steps you'll take to move forward based on the input you've received.
Show appreciation to those who took the time to provide their input. Send a personalized thank-you note or express your gratitude in person. Let them know how their insights have influenced your thinking and decision-making. This will go a long way to nurturing relationships in your network.
Remember that gathering input is an ongoing process!
As you progress in your career journey, continue seeking input from mentors, peers, and industry professionals.
Careers are not one-and-done. They are meant to evolve. Regularly evaluate and recalibrate your career goals and strategies based on new insights and changing circumstances.
If you need a boost to get started on a midlife next chapter, turn to our most downloaded resource, the EvolveMe Career SWOT – it will help you design the strategy you need to move forward!
We want more for you!