“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” - May Sarton
When we find ourselves in transition, either by plan or not, there is a powerful, animal urge to cling to the familiar. Acting on instinct, we may search for what feels comfortable and safe, eschewing what makes us uncertain or anxious. By repeating what we know, so we think, we will ensure success and remain true to ourselves.
But what if “being true to ourselves” means reexamining our assumptions, beliefs, and past behavior in light of current realities? That is, in fact, what we have all done our whole lives, even if we haven’t realized it. Rather than sticking with what we know, we can take advantage of the opportunity given to us by a career transition to discover more about what we really think and want, and align our goals with who we actually are, rather than who we once thought we wanted to be.
As we discover our true selves, we are in effect creating our personal brand. It can be as simple as a collection of words and phrases that describe who we are, what we are good at, and how we can be of service to others. If we examine ourselves openly and honestly, we may even find some positive surprises, especially if we solicit impressions from those we trust.
Some questions to ask yourself when starting this process of self-discovery and branding may include:
What do I do better than anyone else?
What kinds of professional problems do people bring to me?
What am I sought out for?
What kind of projects or conditions make me feel the most alive?
Where do the companies I've worked for find the most value in me?
What are my three strongest professional traits?
Which of the three traits do I enjoy the most?
This exercise is appropriate for those at any point in their working life, and especially so for those of us faced with career changes. Many have never done this kind of self-examination, and a job transition is a great time to take control of your personal brand and make it work for you.
About the author: Adam Haus
Adam Haus has been on all sides of publishing production and editorial, and is now a content strategist. He plays bass and guitar regularly with jazz and Latin groups around Chicago, and particularly enjoys audience members who dance.