People often come to career coaching knowing they want to do something different, but also not knowing where to start.

Here are five ways to get going…


1) Find a good time and a productive place for bursts of thinking


When I was leading a team, I would often block out time on a Friday for ‘strategic thinking’, and  often I would be too tired at the end of the week to think straight. Eventually I found sitting in a quiet corner in a coffee shop for 20 minutes at the start of a midweek morning worked for me.


Where and when do you find it easy to think? Do you need a friend or coach to listen and notice what you’re saying? Does writing, recording or drawing work best for you to capture ideas?


2) What do you really enjoy doing at work?


We might not remember all the things we’ve ever done at work, but we can usually remember the times when we’ve loved what we’re doing, been energised and felt we’re at our best. Equally, we can usually remember the opposite times. Reflecting on these experiences will give you some building blocks of what you’d like in a new role.


3) Where, when and with whom do you love working?


Another building block is reflecting on the type of work environment and culture you like – both for face-to-face and virtual working – and splitting into non-negotiable and nice to have.

For example, I need to work in organisations with female role-models and plenty of people interactions, but I’m quite happy if an office isn’t swanky.


4) How will work fit with everything else?


Again reflect on what’s non-negotiable and what’s nice to have, and keep it under review, as working patterns often needs to shift as children get older.


5) What are your transferable skills?


Apologies for the jargon, but listing out your skills and identifying how you could use them in a different role is another building block. If you’ve had a long career break, then draw on non-work experiences – organising joint birthday parties have definitely honed my project management skills and patience!


This article was written by career coach, Catherine Shepherd.