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Its not a resolution its a life choice! A few steps towards career happiness!

Its back to work week and across the nation conversations over breakfast or in quiet corners of the office include the likes of; “I am bored in my role”, “New Year New Job!!”, “I need to make a career change”, “I have lost all motivation”, “I don’t feel challenged”, “I am not happy at work”, I HATE IT HERE!” ….

I have heard variants of the above a million times, said it a few times myself and, as a Coach & Headhunter, have helped numerous people move past it in the last 20+ years.

Many of us spend more waking hours at work than with our loved ones, friends or pursuing hobbies. It’s no wonder that career/job can either be a key part of achieving personal happiness or one of the biggest causes of emotional exhaustion.

So, against a backdrop of global uncertainty, for lots of us “fixing” career issues or finding a new job will be the big resolution for 2019. However, with c80% of New Year Resolutions failing by March what should we be doing, not only to kickstart this new shiny work-self, but to maintain momentum?

The good news is that there are loads of coaching/self-coaching tools that will help you to fall back in love with an existing job or achieve that dream move.

There is definitely not a ‘One Size Fits All’ solution but rather it’s a personal journey made up of lots of little steps. Arguably it’s these small steps that provide the framework for career happiness.

Here are a few steps to help with your resolution (and I love a quote so there are a few of those);

Turn it on its head and start with the Destination

 “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Yogi Berra American Major League Baseball player & manager (1946–1965)

If you have an idea what the end game will be then visualising the Destination can be a great place to start! Whether you see yourself as a future CEO, studying for an MBA, achieving a work/life balance, changing career and becoming a teacher, launching your own business or retiring mortgage free on a beach by visualising yourself at the Destination looking backwards you have a much clearer view of the route required.

In this your career is the same as other personal goals. For example, if you are one of the lucky few to be running the London Marathon this year you have probably started by visualising yourself crossing the finish line with the time clock above your head showing your personal target. Now that you have “sub 4hrs”, “sub 4.30hrs”, “sub 5.14hrs (yep that’s the best I could do!)” as your goal you can develop an effective training schedule. In this instance by knowing the Destination you can build a plan that includes short, mid and long-term goals/milestones. Thereby maintaining momentum and motivation.

Career planning is the same. While we all understand that the final destination may evolve by reverse engineering the process we add clarity to steps required for the journey.


Why not write a personal mission statement? This can evolve over time but just by getting something on paper you are taking the first step & starting your personal development blueprint.


Honest self-appraisal.

“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for it.”

Katharine Elizabeth Whitehorn CBE, (born 1928) is a British journalist, writer, and columnist

Honest & authentic self-appraisal is the cornerstone of coaching our “career-self”.

There are three loose areas to focus on; Firstly, we must be honest about our values and motivations. Without true motivation and authentic values nothing will be achieved. People who are happiest in their careers are those that have been honest with themselves about their motivations. Secondly don’t be afraid to sing your own praises. If in a career or motivational slump, its massively uplifting to spend time analysing and writing down career achievements. You will be surprised how much you have done. Finally, it’s a bit more uncomfortable but essential to identify where there are gaps in your skillset. Without understanding the gaps, we can’t design a personal development plan.

Thankfully there are lots of coaching tools that can help you to with your analysis.


Go back to basics and re-write your CV from scratch. Give yourself a few hours & immerse yourself in your career journey. Go through all your achievements, awards, plaudits etc. Make sure you give good examples. Write the long “I am the best” Master Version as it can always be shortened and adapted. It’s a very cathartic exercise. Afterwards you may want a G&T (or a run as its January) but you will feel great about yourself!


For an even more in-depth view take the time to develop a Career/Personal SWOT analysis. This will really help with future goal setting and in-depth planning. And yes, if not on a January detox, a G&T will probably be required afterwards but you will find this a really powerful step in your personal development journey.


Lots of little steps.

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Confucius

Why do so many New Year Resolutions fail? I am contemplating this whilst on the stepper trying to work off what feels like 12lbs of Christmas excess! The answer is unrealistic goals and a lack of true motivation. “Keep stepping!”

Like the man moving a mountain break it down to bite sized chunks. Develop a plan that has achievable and regular goals.

This is a very individual journey defined by personal goals, achievements to date etc. Clearly personal development is central to most career-based goals. As such themes that could aid with the journey include;

Continued learning;

No matter what your goals are your mission is likely to require additional skills & learning.  Whether it’s to undertake formal studying, management training, barista training, motivational reading, OTJ training etc etc. If you are learning you are moving forward.

Supportive helper;

Whether it’s a Coach, Mentor, Manager or Husband/Wife don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having someone who can support your journey, help with motivation and when necessary hold you to task is invaluable.


It’s a cliché but who you know is as important as what you know. So, now you have a mission, you have conducted a SWOT, you have a continued learning diary, the next step is start building or continue growing the network to support your journey. Surround yourself with people who can help.

Two steps forward & one step back;

Please don’t be afraid of failure or disheartened by lapses. Its your journey and you set the pace. Embrace both the ups and the downs – they are all learning opportunities. This is where your Coach can be really supportive.


Develop a training and reading diary. Populate it with both materials that you can acquire yourself and also more formal programmes that can be paid for by your company. Diarise realistic timeframes for this learning schedule.


Get a Coach. I know a good one! 😊


My final thoughts for now. Have fun doing the above and your plan will evolve. It’s all about lots of little steps and continued momentum. Take pleasure in the journey and success and happiness will follow.

 “So the first step in improving the quality of life consists in engineering daily activities so that one gets the most rewarding experiences from them.”

― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life

Nick O’Connor

Nick O’Connor

Coach / Director

Nick is an Career/Personal, Leadership & Team Coach and International Head Hunter. He has spent 20+ years working with entrepreneurs & management teams who are building businesses and with professionals growing successful careers. Along the way this has involved managing teams and running his own consultancy. ICF Registered and ACTP trained. The main theme is helping people through periods of change & growth. Nick is a passionate believer that Coaching can help us to shift our mindset, manage change, overcome obstacles and ultimately be happier. Areas of interest include; - Career Coaching - Coaching through periods of change. - Motivation & goal setting. - Diversity in the workplace. - Creative coaching. - Derive - (walking whilst coaching). “It’s amazing how liberating it can be to take the coaching into the fresh air or a gallery”.