Career in Your Suitcase
A practical guide to creating meaningful work... anywhere

Creating Your Career

This is a preview to the chapter Creating Your Career from the book Career in Your Suitcase by Jo Parfitt.
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In Chapter 2 — Find Your Passion you obtained a clearer picture of what you love (passion) and in Chapter 3 — What Can You Do? you discovered all the things you can do (skills and talents) as well as ways of using those skills. In this chapter you will generate personally meaningful and creative ideas of how to apply your skills and talents and express your passion as well as explore the different ways of working.

What Do You Believe?

The beliefs you hold about the world and work, and the rules you think guide how they operate, are very important considerations. They are beliefs about what constitutes work and a career. They are beliefs about the world and how it works. For example, believing opportunities come to those who work hard will have an impact on the effort you are willing to put into achieving your goals. The beliefs you hold about yourself and your own abilities will also have an impact on what you see as an achievable and realistic goal for yourself. They can provide energy as well as drain energy. They can lead to opportunity or they can put up barriers to opportunity. You may have touched on some of these themes when completing the Family Inheritance exercise in Chapter 2 — Find Your Passion.

Take some time to journal some of the beliefs you hold that impact your career, and challenge the validity of these beliefs where you believe useful. Our tendency is, unfortunately, to generalise some (often negative) experiences and form a belief based on this generalisation. Challenge yourself to see where you are generalizing and look for stories (your own and other people’s) that contradict this generalisation. Breaking through some of these beliefs can help you to recognise and respond to opportunities you may otherwise miss. If you discover a belief, and its resulting pattern in your life, that you wish to change and you are not successfully able to change it on your own, enlist the support of your Blue Sky Team or a professional.

Career resilience, an essential skill for expats and those creating a portable career, is defined by career coach Carole Pemberton as ‘holding the beliefs that enable flexibility in thought, behaviours and actions when facing adversity’. Adversity can be seen as any situation which challenges your ability to come up with solutions and alternatives. According to Carole, career resilience is about holding onto the beliefs about yourself that allow you to maintain the flexibility needed for resilience.

Think about the life and work experiences you’ve had and the lessons you have taken from those experiences. They can be about how hard work will or will not be rewarded, working in teams and formal organisations, whether or not you will find support when you need it, and much more.

For example: In this economic climate no one is looking for new hires. I won’t apply because who needs all that rejection? Or: My education and experience have prepared me for only one career path.

1. What are some beliefs you hold about the world and work?

2. What are some of the rules you believe apply to finding work that’s right for you?

Go back and underline any words in number one and two that locate the control outside yourself. Rephrase them in a way that gives you a choice as to how to respond and deal with them.

For example: With all the cutbacks, reorganisations and mergers...

First draft: no one is looking for new hires. I won’t apply because who needs all that rejection?
Rephrased: there are new unplanned opportunities being created for someone just like me somewhere. I will keep looking to find those opportunities.

3. How can you rephrase any beliefs that do not serve you, so they produce a more constructive, helpful and resilient perspective? For example, self-reflection is essential for me to understand what I need to learn to make good choices in my work and life.

4. How will you use these rephrased beliefs and rules to better serve your portable career?

Changing how you think about the way the world and work operate will change the results you generate. Make sure your beliefs and understanding of what rules apply are well informed, positively formulated and give you the control of choosing a response that serves you. Gathering this information and challenging your beliefs as necessary can reduce the amount of frustration you may experience in your career travels. The Blue Sky Team you have created to work with in the last chapter may also help you find the beliefs you hold which need to be challenged, as they are usually easier to recognise in someone else. You will be able to do it much more easily for someone on your team than yourself. Having done this exercise and reflected on it, write down the beliefs you will use to guide you towards your portable career in Your Career Passport.

A Changing World

As the world continues its shift to a truly global economy, new kinds of leadership are required. According to some, this new leadership style will use many of the skills traditionally associated with women. Experts agree that women’s focus on relationships, comfort with diversity, refusal to compartmentalise skills, talents and lives, innate scepticism of hierarchy and, most importantly, desire to lead from the middle (not from the top) are all key attributes required by tomorrow’s leaders. These are leadership skills women have traditionally used to keep families together and to organise volunteers to come together to positively impact their communities, according to Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, the World YWCA Secretary General as quoted in New York Times’

Business and technology writer Daniel Pink in his book, A Whole New Mind says we are entering the ‘conceptual age’, a time when right-brain skills such as design and storytelling will become far more important. He says transformative abilities like empathy and creativity are not so easily outsourced and will be key employability factors.

The talents, experiences, attitudes and skills women bring with them are precisely those needed in what Seth Godin calls the ‘connection economy’. According to Sally Helgesen, author of The Female Advantage, this confluence of abilities and required leadership capacities is creating unprecedented opportunities for women to play a vital role in leading transformational change in organisations and communities. Management and training consultant Mary Farmer notes that women are better at seeing the human side, quicker to cut through competitive distinctions of hierarchy and ranking, and impatient with cumbersome protocols.

Mary goes on to say that bestselling author Esther Wachs Book, who wrote Why the Best Man for the Job is a Woman, defines ‘new paradigm leaders’ as those who combine many of the managerial talents traditionally attributed to men with many of the stereotypically ‘weaker’ female skills. In detailed interviews with 14 of the top female managers in the USA, Book concluded that new paradigm leaders achieve success for three main reasons:

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What else is in the chapter 'Creating Your Career'?

Manage your Expectations

Transitions involving career changes and physical relocations can often have an impact you weren’t expecting. Uninformed and unrealistic expectations are one of our greatest sources of discontent. Manage your expectations ...

Cultural Considerations

Operating in a new culture asks two different things of a person: ...

Influencing Factors

These things are so important to your wellbeing that without them you could not consider a position, even if it is based on your passions and uses your top skills. ...


Be aware of the purposes your career will serve. They can be economic and relate to having the money to do what you want, when you want, providing security for ...

Your Career Evolution

What you based your first career choices on may have shifted in the past number of years. Take time to consider the evolution that has taken place in your career. ...

Getting Ideas

There is no denying it can be soul-destroying to have spent years training for one occupation only to find you cannot practise it in your new environment or learn that ...

Blue sky dreams

From the moment you picked up this book you have shown your interest in finding the perfect portable career. The blue sky featured on the book’s cover is no accident. ...

Ways of Working

In addition to thinking creatively about how you will mix your skills and passion to create opportunities as you have just done, there are also many diverse ways of ...

Researching Options

It is important to also look at the different occupations that exist in order to spur yourself to uncover new ways of using your skills. Perhaps you will find a ...

Evaluate Your Options

One way to consider what style of working will fit your situation best and what option looks like it has the most potential for your portable career is to ...

Living Your Mission

Setting goals ...

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