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Normally, project team members feel anxious or stressful when the big project is closed to the end. This means: “No project”, “no contract”, “no job” and then: “How will I pay the mortgage?”. Transition from one project to another can be hard in particular when there are recession times. But, if your current role in this big project is the only one you can do, what is the next? In this short post, you will see two stories, making some questions to continue, making the next step in the most important project you have ever performed: your professional life.

William’s story

In September 2009, William was serving in Afghanistan as a trainer and mentor when he was among US and Afghan soldiers walking through the Ganjgal valley on the way to meeting with village elders.

After being trapped by an attack, he ran across 50m of open space to a wounded Kenneth, pressing a bandage his with one hand and throwing a grenade with another before bringing him to a medical helicopter. William kissed the forehead of his friend and returned to the battle to recover more soldiers.

Last month, Will received the Medal of Honour from US President Barack Obama for repeatedly risking his life to save fellow soldiers and recover the dead. Someone told him: “After receiving this Medal, you can do anything. What do you want to do, now?” And guess what? Will has requested to return to the army (active duty). He has been unemployed since leaving the military in 2011.

Being in War can be a terrible experience but a simple civil life can be worst. He had the option to do something else, because, he has a degree in political science, and then he can do something different, something safer. But he couldn’t.

Wayne’s story

My friend Wayne had been working in a finance department in Sydney for 30 years when one day his boss told him: Your role is redundant.  He had to start to find a job but he soon realise that companies thought he was too old to do the job that he used to do. He thought: “Bullshit”. After 5 months, he developed enough courage to start his own business in the superannuation industry. Maybe, he didn’t know everything about super, but he needed to pay his bills. He had no option than change his career

These two men have something in common. These two no-connected stories have something in common: the challenge of changing careers.

If we need to or want to change the direction of our career, what else we can do for living? I don’t want you to follow my career development. I won’t offer you a pill to take that remove obstacles from your path. I just will open the door for you to find your awesomeness by yourself.

Find Your Awesomeness

Two weeks ago, I watched a Nike TV commercial where a fat man is running, shaking his tummy, chest and all his fat/muscles. Could you imagine that? This ad finish with these words: FIND YOUR GREATNESS.

When we talk about career changing, we can find someone who is called: a career change advisor.  Maybe, this person is ready to offer recommendations, suggestions and services. In a professional environment, everyone has heard the canned phrase: “REINVENTING YOURSELF” But, they use this phrase repeatedly. Maybe, if you ask, they could tell you they have never experienced a career change in their life. Maybe, they don’t have the courage to run, reducing kilos and finding greatness.

I don’t pretend to be an adviser. I just want to share some reflexions on my experience and my friend’s experiences.  Maybe, you can find common elements to your own experience. Before starting, I will change one word:  FINDING MY AWESOMENESS. For me, in this process, we can find more things than just greatness. Let’s start with three simple questions, three powerful lessons. The kinds of questions that can make you change your life. By asking yourself, you can discover many things including your awesomeness.

Who I am?

First, please ask yourself:  Who I am? Someone might say: “I am a customer service officer” or I could say: “I’m a production allocation engineer”. Sound very professional but it’s the wrong perspective. Please think twice:  you are not your role. And this is true, because you don’t have to die if your role dies. Sound simply; but, it was not for Wayne. It is hard to learn this lesson after 30 years working in the same place. Every one of us has a combination of values, believes and principles under the skin. On a daily basis, we didn’t notice but they are there. Thus, if we really understand who we are, we can make better decisions, develop a vision of our future and pursuit it. This is truly who you are.

What do I do?

Second, finding happiness in your job by developing a strong reason to wake up early and go to work on Mondays. For instance, Wilson said “My passion is gardening” but he is working full time in an office with no plants in there. He pays all his bills but he is not happy. If you feel the emotion of a Five-Four-Three-Two-One counting effect on Friday afternoons waiting for the weekend, you would be not happy at work. I am sure he will wake up one day and he will ask to himself: Why I am doing this? I am optimistic. Always, there is an activity you normally do in which you can be the best.

What would I like to do?

If there is any difference between “who are you?” and “what you are doing?”, there is a space to think about “what would you like to do?” The answer requires not only a clear vision of your personal and professional preference but also an analysis of the space of current opportunities. This is the searching of a common point between your preferences and opportunities out there. Sometime, you need to rethink your career completely as we saw in the William’s story. Maybe, we don’t need to change our career or our job if we don’t want to or have to. But, a redefinition of current roles is sometime required to be happy. Defining your working identity is one of the most important actions to increase your happiness at work.

Conclusion

Every one of us has a unique combination of experiences & competencies. Let each of you discover where your true chance of awesomeness lies. Finding our awesomeness allows us to do something that no one else can do. Developing the required courage to ask some life-changing questions, you and I can find our awesomeness and be happy in our jobs. Important questions (such as like: “Who I am?”, “What I am doing?”, and “What would I like to do?) can guide you through tough transitions and help you to make life-changing decisions.