Stretching For Growth

Growth is a funny thing, once you’ve achieved something, you forget you had to endure quite a bit of discomfort to get there.

And as we age we become more aware of the chance or “likelihood” of failure. We worry about outcome instead of simply listening to our intuition to identity a vague direction that we can tap at, if it doesn’t work we can always just move on to whatever is next.

Since a big part of last year was stretching for growth and I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel - so to speak, going from analysis paralysis to, as I have written about a few times, to trying a career coach to give my self a kick in the ass, doubt, then moving on to slightly furious frustration and ending with let it be, let me keep amplifying my effort, I thought I’d write about the topic. Currently as I sit at a rather zen, big bitch energy so here’s my tips below:

Do personal check-ins: I find a lot of the suggestions about finding your passions or strengths kind of useless. It’s too clichéd. There’s a lot practical things that need to be added to the equation.

In general self knowledge is something foundational everyone has to do before you can do a personal check-in though. Read about attachment patterns, psychology, take personality type quizzes for fun, think about your communication style, what you actually care about in life, how are you perceived. You can’t make progress if you haven’t established your starting point.

Once you have spent some time figuring yourself out, I suggest doing personal check-ins. How are you feeling about the general state of your life and why? What bothers you? What would you like to change? What are your feelings trying to tell you? Why are you feeling anxious? If you pause to think about how you’re feeling and why, you can develop a stronger clarity of where you are at and where you’d like to be. This sort of intention setting mindset will naturally help you see more opportunities and to pursue things to move you towards your desired destination. Think about what you’ve tried, what’s working, what’s not working and how you can reallocate your fuck bucks and time for a better investment yield.

Practice Ikigai: I really love the Ikigai venn diagram for searching for direction. Achieving balance in life is sort of like a sliding scale where you need to balance what you like, what is needed, what you can be paid for and what you are good at. Over last year after doing some career exploration I quickly realized I wouldn’t want to do some jobs due to the pay. I might not love x - like socializing at times or public speaking but since I might earn a double digit percentage range for the said skill it would be more balancing than just being super unrealistic and thinking about my passions and strengths. You can’t live on those.


Get creative with reconnaissance work: whether you are looking for a job or trying to develop a new skill, there’s a lot of ways you can compensate for hiring biases if you can be a little creative with reconnaissance work. I think I’ve written this somewhere in another post, I thought I’d bring it up again since I thought the flash of inspiration worked so well.

I was thinking about companies I’d love to work at in the future or industries I’d like to switch to, so I paid for premium on LinkedIn to see who is looking at my profile, where certain companies hire from (schools and previous employers) which could help me think about where my money would be best spent for some continuing education or to see what jobs were being posted so I could compare my current skills to market demand. This also enables you to either think about ways you can gain experience in the skill gaps you have at your current job (just make sure to tell the story through your corporate lens) or to find freelance work in the area. For women I’ve previously read that you get hired on performance, not potential so to address hiring biases it’s good to gain experience in anything that’s lacking.

I also added random people from companies and asked to interview people in certain fields which is A. good for learning and B. networking. Beyond that I asked people for coffee to have a casual chat about their industry. I tried to be helpful by sharing some knowledge around mine too. I also put up a post on social to ask if people knew professionals in certain industries which helped me improve my knowledge.

Overall there’s no need to overthink things, just constantly explore, try new things, observe, adjust and repeat. When you stop being as results focused I find things naturally just line up when you get the process down.

First post of the year down. More awkwardness to ensue until the flow of this blog is truly set.

Continuing Education Resources: MindTools & Skills You Need

Last year when I was reading up on PESTLE I stumbled across this website MindTools which has an exhaustive list of frameworks you can learn about under leadership, team management, strategy, problem solving, decision making, project management, time management, stress management, communication, creativity, learning and career skills.

I recently also found Skills You Need which covers personal, interpersonal, leadership, learning, presentation, writing, numeracy and parenting skills. 

Both have free and paid content and are nice resources to check out to help you with your continuing education. 

Career Planning: Building Knowledge

Last December I finally started to write some articles on LinkedIn around career planning because uh oh, I have arrived at the stage of my professional life. 

To date I've written 'Why Blogging Can Be A Career Move', 'Career Planning: Take A Third Person Perspective' and yesterday, I wrote about 'Creating A Career Action Plan' where I identified six key areas to work on which include:

Credentials / Profile: get more bylines, media quotes, consider finding public speaking opportunities.

Network: maintain active network, do more interviews, consider coffee dates or dinners to learn more about different industries, organize events.

Knowledge: take continuing education classes, read and write more, attend classes and talks.

Storytelling: work on how I talk about myself as a professional, keep LinkedIn and other social channels polished and up to date.

Polish: avoid hipster fashion moments during professional life. Learn more industry specific terminology.

Passion: read, take classes, attend talks or watch content around things that I find personally interesting.

For today's quick and dirty post I've decided to briefly focus on building knowledge although the topic is still rather vague for me. But like all things in life, learning something new is a process. Don't let the intimidating learning curve stop you.

So let's dive in. Although it is understood we need to stay up to date with skills that pertain to our current job and industry, what is often left neglected is our continuing education needs around industries we would want to work in, in the future and the skills we need to develop if we want to progress on the career ladder. Not exactly exciting, but being in professional shape is important.  

While I haven't really decided what industry would be right for me I have tentatively decided on a few job roles and industries that I might be interested in the future which has helped develop a general education plan. While I had already considered pursuing continuing education since I didn't know what I was working towards I hadn't really made any forward progress until I completed my five sessions with a career coach.

Here's what I've decided on for now. I signed up for LinkedIn Learning in April, which after writing my January post, I learned was an acquisition of Lynda. Right now I'm mostly watching their more career oriented content to brush up on my knowledge in that area, but I'm planning on progressing to their business content and technology classes. 

I also found a market research specialization certificate program of several courses offered through Coursera by University of California Davis which I tried a class from. I was going to sign up for an online UAL Fashion Buying And Merchandising course for my current job but I kept having issues logging in and my credit card payment didn't go through so for now that's on the back burner. I also decided pay for membership with Insight Association since my top industry choice for professional growth is essentially an extension of market intelligence into market research.  While it's a slow process, I am happy I stopped being in a rut and started making a small step forward.  

What I Found Around PESTEL (or PESTLE)

Although I've been familiar with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis from my advertising undergraduate days, the coursework I took didn't cover the marketing tool PESTEL (also referred to as PESTLE). Last summer I stumbled across the framework, which I have found to be really helpful for brainstorming, researching and writing around newer sectors and less familiar consumer cohorts.

Standing for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal you find a more in-depth description at Professional Academy, which also leads to several marketing theory descriptions. 

Since all of my post college career has taken place in China, I am bit rusty on the US market so I was searching the topic online and found some great refresher videos / baseline knowledge builders from the University of Central Florida, check them out below:

The information cycle below was also nice:

And since I've been career planning the videos also led me to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Handbook, hey market research analyst and writers and authors overviews.