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A parent says to you as a very young child “That is an apple… a…pp.. le. Apple” and you know and believe to be true that that red, shiny thing is an apple! A parent says to you “Shoosh- you’re too loud/enthusiastic/opinionated (insert your own words here)” and you know and believe to be true that you are too loud or what ever that thing is- and that stays with you for life, as clearly as the sky is blue and an apple is an apple.

Map Your Career


I’ve been putting a lot of thought lately into how we get our career start in life and what influences our decisions. I have two sons- one is 13 and the other 16. Both are of an age where they are starting to think about “what they want to do” in life. I find myself struggling to help them. I hear myself saying…

You can do anything you want to do, if you put your mind to it.


The jobs of tomorrow may not have even been thought of today!

and realise that this is actually not being helpful at all. In fact I may as well say nothing at all, for all the good this is to them.


Then I hear myself saying-

Well if you don’t get off that “i” device, you’ll get no education at all, have no social skills and end up being a garbage collector! Is that what you want? (tone rising to a cressendo!)

OK- so that is the desperate, I am losing control of things version of me speaking. And the response it gets is an “eye roll”!

What or who influences our decisions and beliefs as a teenager and adult? Why do we make the career choices that we do?

Can you pick the common career theme here? Farm hand, scientist, medical researcher, veterinarian, community development, grants management, economic development, program development, human resource management, (with community volunteerism sprinkled amongst this).

This is a summary of my career journey so far! What a ride!

I went to school with a girl who knew she wanted to be a doctor all her life. She studied hard, got into medicine and became a doctor. I don’t know what she is doing now, but I hope she is still practicing medicine and loving it. I really envied her. How lovely to have a sense of purpose at such a young age.

However for most of us, we didn’t have a clue. We were being asked to make subject choices at school that could limit our choices later on, yet no framework for this decision making.

In hindsight, without really knowing yourself (and how many teenagers really do) or understanding your unique gifts and strengths, how can you possibly know what you want to
“do” in life?

I had very little support and guidance in my teenage years, and no clear vision of my strengths and gifts. No one ever gave me the gift of “reflection”. A simple statement like-

Jeanette- you have a real empathy for people and a great capacity to learn. You are insightful and funny. You have natural leadership qualities. People are inspired by your vision. You are creative and love the outdoors. Be yourself. Always.

…would have changed my life.

I was often “shooshed” and glared at for being loud and opinionated and forthright, and soon learnt to mould myself to others expectations in order to fit in. Sometimes I mucked around in class, amusing my fellow students. Actually I did this a lot. The teachers thought I was just being naughty, but really I was bored. Underchallenged.
Ironically, I felt that there was always someone smarter, faster, funnier, and more creative than me, so I never felt good enough. Underchallenged, not fitting in and comparing yourself to others all the time is not a happy combination.

No wonder I couldn’t work out what I wanted to “do” or “be”- I had no idea of who I “was”.


So what I believe to be true, is that the career choices we make throughout our lives are a reflection of what our understanding of ourselves is at that time (and our understanding of what opportunities exist for us).

By mapping the career paths we have taken, we learn a little more about ourselves and what we knew about ourselves when we made critical career decisions (or failed to make them).

With the benefit of life experience and by knowing ourself more fully today, we can make better career plans for the future.

With that in mind- can you now see my common career themes?

If you think mapping your career path for a better future  is just what you need right now, then you are in luck!


I am pleased to be teaming up with my long time friend, career and life coach Dana Hughes of Dana Hughes Career and Training to present a workshop called Relaunch Your Career”. And, you guessed it, one of the things we will talk about is mapping your career journey! Click on the flier for more information.

Dana is an amazingly warm and insightful human being who will take us on a journey of reflection and discovery and help you plan for a better future.

Relaunch Your Career is on Saturday 21 June 2014 at the beautiful Knockwood Estate in Mossvale Park, Berrys Creek, South Gippsland. Go to  for more information.

I would love to meet you there. Register today. I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

Post Script:

You will be pleased to know that I am learning to reflect back to my boys, the strengths, gifts and talents I see in them, because, if nothing else, perhaps they will know themselves a little more than I did at the same age, and make decisions that align with their true self.