Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Jo Green of Jo Green Coaching.
Sparky moments – we all have them. They happen when we cross paths with someone or something that connects us to what matters most. Sparky moments light up our eyes and prick up our ears. They lead to losing ourselves in fulfilling work or absorbing hobbies. They can shove us onto our soapboxes and inspire us to act on the things we most want to change.
In a world full of demands, distractions and choices, it can be hard to transform these tiny bundles of inspiration and energy into something more sustainable in our busy, complex lives.
My own career change was sparked and shaped by five things: coaching, psychology, sustainability, research and social enterprise. Mention a solution for reducing plastic usage and I’m with you. Watch out if you casually bring up Brené Brown or ask me about coaching at a dinner party! Check out my Facebook followings and you’ll find dozens of ethically driven businesses and brilliant social enterprises.
As I career coach, I love watching for my clients’ sparky moments. Often, they’re a brief flicker nearly snuffed out by what someone thinks they should be doing. Sometimes they flare up as an idea someone has cherished for years, but hasn’t been brave enough to follow.
Find and fan your sparks
Finding and fanning your sparks can help you understand what makes you tick and where you naturally want to spend your time and energy. Ultimately, they can light up the place where a fulfilling job might be hiding.
If you’re keen to kindle your five strongest sparks, here’s what I suggest:
1. Capture the moments
Carry a notebook or start a list in your phone. Note down every time you get on your soapbox, read an absorbing article, pick up a new book, watch a clip or film, go to an event. Any time you lose yourself in an activity or bore your friends over dessert and coffee, record the topic.
2. Sort your sparks
After a few weeks, take a look at your list. Which topics repeat? Which themes are clear? Get specific. Choose your top five sparks then refine your focus. For example, psychology is high on my list. However, I’m not interested in clinical psychology; I’m sparked by investigating how we deal day-to-day with keeping well and building healthy relationships.
If writing is on your list, does writing theatre reviews or haiku or tax advice spark you? If cooking fuels your sparky moments, are you happiest baking killer brownies, creating classic French dishes or exploring green cuisine?
3. Find what fuels you
Explore your motivation. How do your sparks light up your values and beliefs? Why is that sparky topic important to you? Ask yourself, or better still get someone else to ask you, why these spark-worthy topics fire you up.
In my case, sustainability matters because I’m driven to combat the impact we are having on the planet. I want to find and use effective, every day solutions to living in cleaner, simpler, more earth friendly ways. I want to use my spending power to support businesses making a difference. I investigated this as a career change idea, but decided it wasn’t right for me. That said, because it is so important to me, it threads through the way I live my life and conduct my business.
4. Fan the flame
Take your refined list of your five most sparky topics. Does knowing them make you rethink how you want to spend your time, energy and money? What do they tell you about future career and lifestyle choice? I’ve found it useful to add them to my Wheel Of Life, so I regularly check in on whether they still feel important to me and how much time I am spending on them.
Take these flickering sparks and see which ones you want to investigate and fan more. You might have uncovered the beginning of a bigger fire within.
Jo Green, career change coach
I know how it feels to be lost in your career. That’s why I coach, to create learnings, action and help others get stuff done. Changing your career can be lonely and confusing, so I’ll walk alongside you, be your cheerleader and help you figure out what meaningful work is for you.