A perfect storm

In 2008 I suffered through a perfect storm. The GFC had just hit, I lost my job and my divorce went through. I lived in Toowoomba but, after my divorce, I knew I had to start my life over again. So, I moved back to Brisbane. Though I found some temporary work, it didn’t last long as the GFC was affecting so many industries. At one point I had to move back in with my parents, which was not the most confidence-building thing to do when you’re 30 years.

It was terribly sad and incredibly frustrating time.

Applying for jobs became my full-time job. I felt so much vulnerability and shame with that because I had spent most of my life helping other people get jobs. Now I suddenly found myself in a situation where I couldn’t get one. All the processes and systems for traditional job-seeking simply weren’t working for me.

At one point, I remember sitting at my mother’s dining table and she said to me, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s not working. I think it’s time you had a chat to Centrelink.” It wasn’t that I was too proud. I was quite happy to go and talk to Centrelink. But I couldn’t help but think, “This just doesn’t seem right. There must be somebody I could work for?”

Finding my vision

I thought, “If I’m going to collect the dole, I might as well see if I can even work for someone, even if it’s for free. I’d rather just be busy doing something productive. I’ve got good skills. I’ve got really good referees. I know I work hard. There has to be someone who I can help.”

But at the same time, I knew that my mum was right – it wasn’t working. So, I thought, “Okay. I’ve got nothing to lose, so what am I going to do?”

I realised then that I needed to get really clear about what my ideal role would be. My dream role. If I couldn’t get any work, I decided I might as well dream big, because nothing else was working. So, I sat down and asked myself what type of work would I like to be doing? And at the time, I decided I wanted to run the training department in a large retail company. I wanted them to have a real commitment to training and learning and development. And they needed to be in Brisbane.

Extending myself

I started asking around. Instead of throwing my resume around everywhere, I started asking people who they knew or who met that criteria of what I was after. And everybody said that I needed to speak to the CEO of a company in Brisbane at the time. They were going through massive growth, had 10,000 staff and were still going through major acquisitions at the time.

So, I approached the head recruiter and asked her if I could have 10 minutes of her time to go and see her, and explain why I thought I might be a good fit for them, even if they weren’t recruiting. She said, “Of course. Nobody ever does that. Come and see me.” So I went to see her.

I thanked her for her time, explained what I understood about the organisation, why I thought I would be a good fit, how I thought I could help, the experience that I had, the values fit, and based on what I’d noticed on what they were doing, what I thought I could contribute. In the end, she gave me a bit more than 10 minutes, and though they didn’t have any jobs at the moment because of the GFC, she asked if we could stay in touch. She said, “I love everything you said and you’re spot on. If something comes up, I’ll let you know. I really appreciate you coming and talking to me.”

It wasn’t a traditional success, but to me, it felt like a huge success. I thought, “Thank God I got to talk to a human being.” And it was motivation to keep trying.

So, I went home and started to have more conversations. And two weeks later, I got a call from her. She said, “We’ve just had a resignation and we really need someone really quickly. Are you still interested?” And I said, “Absolutely. When can I start?” She said, “Well, you can stop tomorrow if you want.” So, I started the next day. I had just landed my dream job.

How to Get a Clear Vision For Your Future

Don’t wait!

The GFC was a bad time for job hunting – in fact, 250,000 Australians lost their jobs during the crisis. While it was not nearly as bad as the situation we’re currently finding ourselves in (over 700,000 Australians are estimated to have lost their jobs since March due to COVID-19), as someone who had always been employed, my confidence was shot. Going through a divorce and starting over added to those vulnerable feelings. I was certainly in a bad place in my life.

And that’s an important lesson. We so often wait until things are really bad before we work out what it is that we want. I wish I’d been much clearer on my vision much earlier. Of course, after going through a divorce, and starting over, the vision that I’d had for my life before had become muddied I’d lost my purpose. But it wasn’t until I found my clarity again, that I found my vision.

As the psychologist and thinker, Carl Jung said, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

See the opportunity

A clear vision of what you want helps you to see the opportunities and possibilities around you. If you’re a job seeker or you’ve lost clients or whatever it might be, don’t waste the opportunity. Instead, take the time to think about what you really want. The opportunities are out there, and if you get clear about what you’re after, you’ll be more likely to attract them. You’ll be more specific, and you’ll have more conversations with people who can help you along your path.

Extend yourself… and set boundaries

A critical ingredient for clear vision is knowing what you are willing to do to achieve your goal, and what you are not. Sometimes you have to get yourself out of your comfort zone to get what you are looking for. In my case, I had to stop using traditional job-hunting techniques and try a face-to-face approach. You may need to do something similar.

But the other side of the coin is also knowing exactly what you won’t do to achieve your vision. As humans we need balance, and we need to understand where our personal and professional boundaries lie.

Next Steps

  1. What experiences are you having now that may be helping you get a clear vision?
  2. What opportunities are there?
  3. How can you extend yourself to achieve your vision?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…