The Aid Worker’s Perennial Question: “What’s Next?”

by Shana Montesol Johnson

“I’m not happy at work. I know something needs to change. But I’m not sure what I want to do,” confided Angela (not her real name). When she first took a job at a large international organization, she had had high hopes for making a difference and learning from respected colleagues. But she was drained by her jam-packed work days, in which she put out fires, most of them related to bureaucratic issues. She had no time to work on the projects that really interested her. Angela’s health was also suffering — she was sick all the time. She felt stuck.

Angela participated in the “What’s Next?” group coaching program that I led recently. Through this 6-week program, each participant took a good look at themselves — examining their strengths, core values, personality, priorities. They reviewed what they had loved and loathed in past jobs. They got clear on what they wanted to bring forward into the future. And they started taking action.

“No wonder I’m unhappy in my job,” remarked Angela a few weeks into the program. “What I do all day does not match up with who I am, what I’m great at, or what is important to me.” Not only did she realize that her unhappiness at work made sense, she also saw that she had contributed to it herself. It wasn’t entirely her boss’ fault or her colleagues’ fault. As a result of her participation in the “What’s Next?” program, Angela took ownership of her own unhappiness. And decided to do something about it.

She finally had a conversation with her boss about her role on the team — the one she had been avoiding for months. She started networking within her organization, and elsewhere, to create opportunities to use her strengths and skills.

Halfway through her participation in the program, her friends started commenting on a difference in her demeanor. “There is a different energy about you now,” one friend remarked. “A lightness and joy that wasn’t there before. Okay, maybe it was there, but it was obscured by the frustration and sadness.”

By the sixth and final session of the program, Angela reported feeling empowered, more confident, and excited about what the future holds. She may not have figured out exactly what she wants to be doing in 5 years, but she credits the “What’s Next?” group with helping her to turn a corner.

Can you relate to Angela’s story? Are you feeling unhappy in your current work situation? Are you feeling stuck? Or maybe your job is okay, but your contract will end soon, and you’re unclear what is next for your career or life?

If you would like to get unstuck, get clear, and take action in 2012, please consider joining the “What’s Next?” group coaching program. In early 2012, I will offer the program again. In fact, I will offer two additional rounds of “What’s Next?”: (1) an in-person program for folks living in Manila (where I am based) and (2) an online group coaching program via Skype/webinar. For the online version, you can participate from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection and a headset.

The group will be limited to 8 people, to keep it small and intimate. What we discuss and share will, of course, be confidential. We’ll meet weekly in an intensive and supportive 90-minute workshop, where you’ll get great coaching and support from me and from the group. At the end of the 6-week program, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of yourself and what you want, and will have taken solid steps forward to make powerful changes in your career and your life.

Registration closes on January 27, 2012.  (And early bird pricing ends on January 12, 2012.)  Check out details here:

If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you (just email me at shana (at) developmentcrossroads (dot) com).  I have seen powerful results come out of the “What’s Next?” group coaching process, and if it’s right for you, I’d be thrilled for you to be a part of the program.

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