This may be nowhere more evident than in your career. You may have been furloughed or made redundant, or perhaps you have simply taken the time and space that lockdown provided, to check in with yourself, and realise something isn’t working.
Enter Tracy Timm stage left.
Tracy, 30, is an author, speaker, career coach and career clarity expert from Texas, who has made it her mission to fix exactly these kinds of fears and uncertainties- because she’s had them herself.
“My first job after I graduated was in Wall Street, and I hated it,” she says, “I was just really frustrated, and it was there I felt the reality of that Einstein quote ‘everyone’s a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will always feel stupid.’ I was a fish and Wall St was a tree. No matter how hard I worked, it just wasn’t my best opportunity to succeed at the highest level.”
Unless you had shares in Zoom or Peloton, you’re probably somewhat fed up with how the past few months have turned out.
Let’s face it, 2020 has not been a great year for much.
Tracy knew she had to do something to address this. Her unhappiness with her job was spilling into other aspects of her life- notably her health.
“It really beat me down. Two and a half years in I was a shell of myself. I was anxious all the time,” she remembers, explaining that- after she quit- the journey she embarked upon is what led her to her current career.
“What I do now is all about what I learned from my own journey.This all developed into a methodology. I realised it was replicable,” she says, “I wanted to turn it into a clear model for going from stuck to unstoppable. It was the basis of the book.”
Her book, Unstoppable, is released on 29 September and details the methodology Tracy created in the five years since she left her dream, six figure salary job. It took her two years of soul searching (on a programme called Semester at Sea, no less) and three years of human capital advisory work to crack her own code. Her work is centred on the idea that – not only is it possible to find work you love – but that there is a proven formula to finding it.
She calls it The Nth Degree- and while it’s initially easy (as a Brit, of course) to dismiss this as motivational speaker guff- it actually makes a ton of sense.
The idea is to work through several stages to get a handle on the exact reasons why you are unhappy at work and how best to combat that. The initial stage is the Discover phase. You then work through to create what Tracy calls a “value stack” as a professional.
“We make sure people know what their values are and then we make them go a level deeper and turn those values into commitments. That foundational level makes sure that – at the very least- you are living within your values,” says Tracy, who explains that understanding your core values are a crucial component of attaining career clarity.
“When you have a job you hate, most of the time that feeling of tension comes from being misaligned with core values,” she says, “So if you value family but you’re working on the weekends and at nights or you value integrity but you feel people at your work are lying, there’s always something that breaks down to a value.”
Once you have determined your values, you can use the knowledge to build up that stack. You layer on an understanding of what you are good at- and why- and what you have learnt, what skills and experiences you have accrued.
“It’s basically….find out what is core to a person, layer on their natural giftings and then their collective experiences,” she says, “That should make you an Olympian- but at your sport. The event where you have the best chance of succeeding.”
She runs an Nth Degree 30 day programme, as well as her various talks and her book, in which these stages are worked through alongside advice on networking and pragmatic guidance on how to navigate the job market.
She has spoken to hundreds of concerned workers and her programme has guided many in unexpected ways. Some have changed their mindsets about how important money is to them, others have realised that they had the skills and experience to apply for jobs they had never dreamed of. With their new found career clarity, they had finally gained the confidence.
The pandemic has led many to seek Tracy’s help.
“Covid19 is just one example of the fact that life is uncertain. It just so happens that we are all going through it at the same time..” she says, “To me, it’s a wake up call- we have a collective set of hands shaking us awake. This is your chance to sit back and think- are you where you want to be or not? It’s a chance to be super introspective. It’s a chance to get clarity. “
TRACY’S ADVICE FOR GETTING CAREER CLARITY
You will never regret doing something as much as you will regret not doing something- there are two types of regrets – regretting something you did and something you didn’t. Regrets of omission are an unfinished story, and that creates that lifetime of ‘what ifs’- its tackling those that I think are important.
Have a ‘nothing is wasted’ mindset- don’t think of anything as wasted time. If you quit a job you hated, don’t think of that time as wasted. Always frame it as a time in which you learnt something- always find something to take from an experience.
Understand your fears- write down your fears and logically work your way through them. Is your fear of being homeless if you quit your job a rational one? How will you actually deal with that situation- what is your plan? Approach your fears with logic. You may find a lot of fears are baseless.
Check in with your core values and align them to your career– you need to know ahead of time what is important to you and if you don’t know what is important to you ahead of time then the world will dictate that to you. Check in with your values now. Never live by someone else’s values. Then try and match your values to your job- do they align or contradict? In doing so, you will find what work suits you best.