Pick up your cards on the way out…

When you leave a job, don’t forget to collect your cards. No, not those cards, I mean your now-redundant business cards.

One of the most inspirational sites I’ve come across recently is Cards of Change, where laid-off employees are encouraged to deface their old business cards with messages letting the recipients know what they’re doing now. Many of the messages are so inspirational you wonder what they were doing in those unsatisfying, energy-sapping, thankless jobs in the first place.

If you still have some cards left after defacing them try turning them over and writing on the backs. You can use the blank sides of business cards for a variety of career-planning activities. For instance, they can help you assess your life priorities.

Using a marker pen, write one life priority on the back of each card and lay them all out on a desk or table. If you’re like most of my clients, you’ll typically have about 40 – including cards for family, career, dreams, ambitions, qualifications, health, relationship, home, holidays, spirituality… I’ve even seen a designer wedding dress, a hotter sex life and a pink VW Beetle convertible among clients’ priorities.

Next, arrange your cards in ranking order. Be strict: don’t allow yourself any equals, don’t-knows or groupings. The strength of this exercise is in the fact you have to make difficult decisions. Reflecting on how you are reaching those decisions is a critical part of the process.

Think about what is important to you and why. What or who is influencing your ranking? Are you still holding on to priorities you formed a long time ago? Many people find they haven’t truly questioned their priorities since school, or since graduation, or since they married, or since they joined their employer. This exercise offers an opportunity to reassess.

Once you’ve got an initial prioritisation, leave it for a day or two and then revisit it. If you have the luxury of privacy, leave the cards out on the table and re-read them as you pass them during the day. Add to, or move the cards around as you think of different things. You’ll be surprised at how your priorities change over the course of a few days, simply because you’re giving yourself permission to question your existing patterns of thinking. You may also be amazed when you realise what you’ve duplicated or left out. The whole process can be a revelation.

You can use this same technique to identify where you’re spending your time, in order to help you sort out work-life balance. You can even use it to brainstorm and prioritise your experience, skills and abilities (extending the process to identify potential groupings and linkages) to help you work out new career options.

February 13th, 2010 | Category: between jobs, career change, career changer, career goal, objective, priorities, work-life-balance | No Comments »

Leave Comment