During the last three months of the year I hibernate into reflection mode.
While January 1 marks the start of “new year resolutions” for most, the real planning for what’s next begins October 1st.
This year, these three months are particularly nostalgic. In 3 months, on January 15, 2023 I turn 40. It wasn’t until I began reflecting on the past decade, and where I was in January 2010, a struggling non-tenured teacher facing layoffs and exploring other career options, that I realized during this decade I went from being a struggling classroom teacher, to consultant in the EdTech space, to the corporate world with Apple and Wix, to creator launching my own company Designing Schools.
There’s no arguing with the advice – we overestimate what we can do in a year, and we underestimate what we can do in a decade.
Using Design Thinking to Turn Career Challenges into Opportunities.
These past three years have turned our lives upside down, and as we emerge and find a sense of stability again, amidst economic, political, and social uncertainty, we’ve all emerged with a stronger comfort with ambiguity.
It has resulted in us asking questions that we may have never considered before.
- Do I have to do things the way I had been doing them?
- Do I have to work 9-5 in a specific location?
- Does what I do bring me joy?
- How can I do what I love and make money?
These are the exact questions that benefit from using the design thinking framework.
Aimlessly answering them leaves us feeling more overwhelmed, confused, and unable to take action.
Over the past three years if there is one question I’ve been asked weekly it’s how did you make these transitions?
This year I’ve decided to dedicate my content in these last three months of the year to answering that question out loud with you, not for you.
You can anonymously share your questions here using this link, and I’ll answer them, and use them as inspiration for this series.
Reflection #1: The One Non-Negotiable: Leadership and Social Influence with a Personal Brand
As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
As I reflect on the answer to how I have made transitions, how I’ve built that trust within myself, there’s one theme that each transition story shares – the power of a personal brand.
Not one transition began with an application being submitted online with the hope of a callback.
Every transition began with a conversation with someone I met through something I had shared. These conversations reinforced why I should trust myself. It began with documenting my work, taking initiative, and showcasing my skills and strengths. Documenting my work forced me to reflect and reach conclusions that reinforced my trust in myself.
It’s not just me who feels this way. In the Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum they now list “Leadership and Social Influence” as a trending skill for 2025.
The number one mistake I see most people make:
Not using where you are to get to where you want to go.
As a struggling teacher in 2010 I thought exiting education was my only hope. For some of you it might be, however we often neglect the many different avenues that exist within the industries we are in.
How to Make 2023 Your Year
In October 2021, as I began thinking about what I wanted in 2022 I quit my job at Apple and launched Designing Schools with two goals for Q1-Q3.
Whether you are getting started as I was in 2010, or you’re making a career transition as I did in 2014-2017, or you are looking to define and strengthen your personal brand as I did in 2018-present make the decision now to let 2023 be the year you took action toward your goal.
Don’t let 2023 be another year that goes by where your goals, and dreams remain stagnant because you didn’t know how or where to start.
And definitely don’t let fear be the reason you don’t take action.
If you’re ready to invest in yourself then I invite you to subscribe to this series, and at the end we’ll come together for a complimentary 60-minute workshop where I’ll share how to take what you’ve been learning and thinking turn it into a plan for Q1 – 2023.
Have questions? Use this link to anonymously submit your question.
I believe that the future should be designed. Not left to chance.
Over the past decade, using design thinking practices I've helped schools and businesses create a culture of innovation where everyone is empowered to move from idea to impact, to address complex challenges and discover opportunities.