1. Take the creative approach
You might feel tempted right now to play it safe with your career. But in times of great disruption, thinking conventionally about your career, what’s possible and how to get it, won’t help you.
When so much is changing week by week, you need be willing to be flexible, responsive and creative to get the best result for yourself. If your job is coming to an end, now might be the best possible time to consider options like freelancing, consulting or starting a business around your skills and expertise. That’s because as long as you have a job your entire income depends on one source – your employer. Once you work for yourself you can have multiple sources of income and you can reposition yourself quickly if the market changes.
2. Start from the right place
Too many of us narrow the possibilities in our career. We might unconsciously start from the question “What’s at least better than what I’m doing now?” or if you’re really feeling downtrodden, “What’s the least worst thing I can get?”
Instead, start from a blank slate and ask yourself “what would I ideally like my working life to look like?”. Then see how close you can get – you might be surprised!
Play: What feels in flow for you? What excites you? What do you find yourself learning more about just out of curiosity? What kind of people would you be happy to work with as colleagues, clients or a target market?
Practised: Choose something that uses some of your existing skills, knowledge and talents. What areas do you have a lot of expertise or skill in? What do people rave about when they work with you?
Profit: What do people have a clear problem in and so are motivated to find a solution? What are people happy to pay for? What is a good market to approach that has money?
You might not know this sweet spot for yourself immediately, but if you get out there and start being helpful to people you will be able find it.
4. Manage the transition
If you want to make a big change like starting your own business or working freelance in a more creative area, it’s likely to take a while to get it off the ground. Over the last 15 years of helping people escape the 9-5 and do something more fulfilling, I’ve noticed that people get stuck when they mix up their need for an immediate income with developing a new line of work that’s closer to their heart. It’s far better to think of these as two separate tracks running alongside. On the first track is something closely related to your current work that is easy to get and keeps you afloat financially.
The second track is your new venture running alongside which might make limited or sporadic money in your evenings and weekends at first but can grow over time. By keeping them separate you won’t be panicking about money or trying to monetise your new venture prematurely.
5. Be a human not a marketer
If you want to work for yourself but the thought of marketing yourself makes you feel queasy, forget it. Instead of trying to be a marketer, be a human. Aim to help people in this new area you are moving into.
Do it for free or cheaply in your at first if necessary. Do a great job and you will collect goodwill and testimonials. Keep doing that until you have more leads than you can cope with. When you get there, people will think you’re an overnight success! The more demand you have, the more you can charge. And at that point you can then spend time on a fancy website and a slick social media presence.
John Williams is author of the new book F**k Work Let’s Play: Do what you love & get paid for it published August 2020 and described by The Sunday Times as ‘A compelling 10-step escape from corporate life that could spell a rash of resignation letters’.
Find out more at www.fworkletsplay.com
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