Are you clear on your focus?

“What kind of work are you targeting?”, I asked Mark, a young client, as part of his mock interview exercise. “Ah, I hate this question,” he replied, “I never know how to answer it.”

His response surprised me, because we’d just spent months working together to define a motivating, good-fit career focus. When I asked why he hadn’t described that in his answer, he said, “I don’t know if I’m going to actually be able to land that kind of work, and it feels silly saying it.”

I think of this as Gotta-Get-Used-to-It syndrome, where as we move into a new life phase, it feels so awkward we have a hard time owning it. Yet getting used to it is an important step, or we may end up stuck. So I nudged Mark through the messy process of absorbing a new view of himself.

“Okay, if you knew you would definitely land the work you want, what would it be?”, I asked. “A business analyst–I want to review and crunch data to be able to make recommendations to companies so that they can be more profitable and effective,” he replied, blushing and stumbling over his words…but projecting excitement and passion as well. “Again!” I urged.

By the time we finished the interview practice, Mark had described his career goal 10 times and it was flowing off his tongue with confidence. I pointed out to him that by being specific with his job-hunting aims, others would be able to help him more successfully. To say, “I’m open to anything,” can make you sound fuzzy and desperate. Yet when you describe a clear focus, others’ impressions of you go up, and they’re better able to point you in a helpful direction.

Experts say it takes repeating something we want to learn seven times or more before we start to feel some comfort with it. So if you’ve got a goal you’re working toward, and it’s a challenge to even say it out loud, find a way to verbalize it over and over. Repetition leads to confidence, mastery and results.

Photo Credit: © Marilyn Barbone | Dreamstime Stock Photos