Authoring Your Career | Handel Group

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Authoring Your Career

I was that girl.  The one that graduated from college with a 2.8 GPA and a minor in Michelob.

And the gig I landed after graduation wasn’t much to write home about, either. On paper it looked fine: I worked in the insurance industry on Wall Street. But, I was answering phones—and I hated it.

I knew I needed a change. So what did I do? 

Well, for a while, I complained about it—both in my own head and to my friends. “Why am I so junior around here?” I’d ask myself. “Why am I just answering phones?” The blame-and-avoid game continued for some time as I waited for my superiors to hand me big and exciting projects to work on.

Strangely (!), they didn’t.  

Thankfully, I decided to do something wisely out of my own box: I hired myself an up and coming, BS-free executive coach, Lauren Zander. I figured Lauren would help me find a new, more fulfilling, more high-paying job and I’d soon be taking that very long (read: permanent) lunch break I’ve been making reservations for in my head.

Interestingly, this was not the coaching she gave me.  

What Lauren told me instead was that before I could figure out what I truly wanted, I had to figure out how to be happy exactly where I was. (At the time, QUITTING was the only notion in my head (my other head coach)

After all, it’s hard to create change in your career if you are full-time hating.

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Lauren helped me see that I had to find what giving 100% looked like, no matter where I was. I needed to get proud and see what was possible if I really gave something (read: everything) my all. From answering the phone to interacting with co-workers and clients to running on the treadmill. And, soon enough I took the whole 100% thing a step further and took a second job. For a year, I had not one but two jobs. And the result?

A revelation.  

When I took complaining off of my current business plan, and upped my own bar as to what constitutes 100% and great work for me, I could see the world differently. I could change my own perspective about myself. And I could stop blaming, pointing, and playing victim of the administrative position that, um, I (did I mention I)  took by default and not by design. So after that, what was I left with? (besides being great at not one but two jobs?)?

My ambition.

You see, once I could trust myself, I could actually believe anything was possible. I could change my entire perspective about myself. Not just myself … but the world and what was possible and available for me in it now. And from that new vantage point, I could design anything I wanted.

Even a Master’s degree and a 4.0 at Columbia University.

My whole new career was now predicated on designing a vision (aka a dream) for myself and authoring what I wanted. If I hadn’t taken the steps to challenge myself and author the career that I wanted, I’d still be reporting on my life like it was the weather, like I had nothing to do with it.

Now, as an executive coach, my experience of authoring my career and waking up to my “weather reporter” is one of my favorite Handel Method tools I teach clients when I start working  with them. I help them see when they are relating to their career like a cold front they can’t avoid. From the “I’m not a people person,” to the “I’m bad with time, money and/or cookies.” From the “it’s a man’s world,” to the “in this economy, I shouldn’t {fill in the blank with anything you are frightened of doing here},” etc.

You get the idea.

And, boy, do we believe our own forecasts. I definitely did. And just like it snows in winter in Alaska, my career trajectory when I started out was a bit Seattle-like: dark and cloudy (with good coffee). If you can’t hear when you are weather reporting about your career as if you have no control over it, you can’t get your power back. You just get to bundle up and prep for, i.e. a bad economy, no raises, hard to find a job, especially when you’re {fill in the blank}.

And the worst part about this mindset? You can’t design a vision for how you want your career to go. You know why? Because you’ve already forecasted the weather not simply for then next ten days, but the weather in your region for the next ten years…

Uh oh is right.

Whether you’re a CEO or manager, whether you’ve been at the same job for twenty years or twenty minutes, you need a vision for where you want to go. And not just a vision, you need to be in charge of the weather in your region.

So, how did I coach my clients to stop weather reporting and start authoring? I have them follow the directions below, and actually author (as in write) their career dream:

Be specific. Make sure to be specific and thorough when you paint the picture of your dream. Your dream should inspire you, give you goosebumps, and even scare you a little. It should be a stretch for you, but not a pipe dream.

Write your vision in the present tense. Writing your dream as if it’s already happening gives you no choice but to accept your dream as a reality and act accordingly. It wakes you up to being accountable for it and fulfilling on it, no matter what.

Focus on what you want and not what you don’t want.

Be honest. Though this might feel obvious to you already, be completely honest here. I mean, your very own dreams are at stake. If you can’t admit every last thing you want, how can you get it? If you can’t admit what isn’t really working, how can you fix it?

Go public with your vision.  Public policy: Tell at least three people you know and trust to not only clap for and champion your vision, but hold you (tightly) accountable to it, believe in it, and support you.   

Listen. The ability to have and chase a career dream is a big deal. Anywhere you’ve had success in your life, whether you got that degree, that scholarship, ran (and finished!) that marathon, I promise—you had a dream. You saw into the future, took the right actions, and made it happen. Whether you sat down, wrote it and were clear about it or not.

The more connected you are to your career dream, the more you can deal with yourself on the inside AND the outside. You can change any of it. It’s time to get your dream on and author your career.  

Is it raining or are you reigning?


P.S. Ready to chase your career dream? Drop us a line at and learn more about corporate coaching options.