Q. I work as a counselor and enjoy connecting with and inspiring my clients. What keeps me even more motivated is thinking of ways to improve our business. I like being the visionary, but I work in an environment where change can take a while. Should I keep trying, or redirect my visioning to my life, another company or my own business?
A. As you move through your career, it's natural to see new interests emerge. The challenge is to grow while you're still working in your original role.
The inner game
Start with your vision for yourself, taking a deep look into what it means to be "the visionary." Identify aspects of your current role that energize you, and ones that you're ready to set aside. Consider talents that you aren't using, as well as interests you'd like to develop; also, understand how you're affected by the speed of change.
Using these insights, create a specific vision for your next role. What balance do you want between counseling and running the business? Think about where you'd like to be in five years, visualizing the tasks you'll be doing, how you'll feel, the working relationships you'll have and the contributions you'll make.
Finally, explore barriers that could hold you back. These could be external, such as education or experience, or internal, such as fear of failure or the sense that you're overreaching by going for the next big step. Assess how realistic each barrier is so that you can overcome it or just move past it.
The outer game
Next, start investigating places where you could have a more visionary role. Include your current organization, other businesses, and starting your own company.
Ask your company's leaders about their vision of change. If they'd like to see more changes or a faster pace, offer to help and discuss ways that you could contribute. Suggest creative options, such as a part-time special-project role in addition to part-time counseling responsibilities.
Their slow pace may be driven by resources and not reluctance, so a new role for you could be just what they're looking for. However, if they're satisfied with the current state, then you may need to look elsewhere to grow.
Talk with people in your industry who are doing what you'd like to do. They'll be able to give you realistic and specific feedback on the best way to accomplish your goals.
Map out your ideas for your own business. Consider all aspects of running a business, not just the service you'd provide. Working through a high-level business plan will help you assess whether having your own business is something you'd like to pursue.
Tackle any gaps in your background, taking actions that prepare you for your next steps. This may include courses in business management and strategy or volunteering on a board for a community organization to gain experience. Then be willing to discuss your vision and skills and present yourself as a credible candidate for a different role.
The last word
Change can be challenging, especially if you're stepping out into a new role. Knowing your vision and doing the necessary preparation will help you create inspiring possibilities.