Dubai, UAE

Take Control of Your Career Development in 4 Surefire Steps

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, we now spend nearly 50% of our waking hours working. 8.56 hours a day during the week. And an additional 5.48 hours on a weekend. And for many, it’s much more than this. Considering we spend so much of our time working, it seems almost paradoxical only 15% of people enjoy their jobs. With the other 85% feeling demotivated, stressed or even depressed by their career development.

It was 2011 when I decided to take control of my career development once and for all. I’d been a recruitment consultant for 6 years and I was burnt out. Emotionally, physically and mentally. Working in a job so far removed from my strengths and values was exhausting! Every day felt like an uphill battle. It was when I started to experience extreme anxiety at the end of every weekend, I knew something had to change.

Believing nobody would ever hire me for a job outside of sales, I felt stuck. It was only when I decided to work with a coach I got the clarity I was looking for. Throughout the coaching process, I rediscovered my strengths, passions and values. I identified what careers would motivate me and which ones wouldn’t. Funnily enough, as is often the case, I ended up going full circle and coming back to my original passion: personal development. The great news is if I was able to take my career development into my own hands – you can too.

If you’re not happy with your career development, you have two options. Either you wait for someone else to make a decision and direct your career development for you. Or you take control and start driving it yourself. If you decide to go for the latter, here are 4 surefire steps to taking control of your career development – starting now:

Step 1) Get clarity on what you want

To stay motivated in your career, you have to know what you want out of it. Otherwise, you’ll simply be stuck in a pattern of taking a job just to get away from the pain of the current one. It is unlikely you will ever find genuine job satisfaction if you continue this way.

The only way to experience fulfilment and success is to get clarity on what you really want. You can start this by answering the following questions:

a) What is really important to me in my career? What are my career values?

Examples could be creativity, leadership, contribution, innovation, helping others, charity, design, technology, teamwork, freedom, financial security, nature, health, emotional well-being and so on.

Write a list. This list will serve as your “check list” for any career decisions you make moving forward. And you might find some hints in there too about the types of careers that would really motivate you.

b) What do I enjoy?

c) What am I passionate about? (Think about industries, people, environmental or world issues, activities, hobbies, discussion topics etc.)

d) What am I good at? (Think both technical and soft skills)

e) What would be purposeful and meaningful to me?

f) What problems do I want to solve for people, companies, the world?

If you’re finding it hard to answer the above, write a list of what you don’t like in your current job. And then ask yourself, “What would I like instead?”. Take the opposite and write that down.

Answering all of the questions above, you will start to build a list of criteria for your career development.

2) Where am I now?

Before you can begin to plan your career development, you must be completely clear on your current situation. If you don’t know your exact starting point, you won’t know what you will need to achieve your goal.

For this to be most effective you MUST be brutally honest with yourself. You will need to do a full self-assessment. Consider your skills, experience, knowledge, current location, finances, time, energy, responsibilities, commitments, network etc. You must also take an objective view of your current mindset and behaviours. What fears do you have? What behaviours are impacting your relationships with others? What limiting beliefs are present? Success is 20% mechanics and 80% psychology. If you don’t have the right mindset, there’s a chance you will never achieve your goal.

TIP: sometimes we’re not aware of our gaps or our behaviour. Listen to the feedback you have received from colleagues, ex-colleagues, bosses, friends, family members etc. Or ask them for feedback. Until you know how you might be holding yourself back, you won’t know what’s within your control to change.

3) What do I need to do to make this happen?

Now you know where you’re going and where you are now, you can start to assess the gap. More importantly – what you need to bridge that gap. Think about everything you will need to reach your goal, externally and internally.

Externally: qualifications, experience, relevant network, change of location, time, money, a new CVLinkedIn profile, soft skills (e.g. communication) or leadershiptraining, an effective job search strategy, etc.

Internally: developing a success mindset is key. Personal development books, online courses, workshops as well as individual life coaching, career coaching, business coaching, NLP coaching etc. can all help.

TIP: Always start with the question, “Who do I know that could help me?” Either practically or with valuable advice and insights. Or “Who do I know that could at least point me in the right direction?”.

4) What actions can I take to make this happen?

This is where many people get stuck. They start to see making a career change might not be as easy or as quick as they would like. They look at everything they need to achieve their goal and feel overwhelmed at the journey that lies ahead. Instead of being brave and going for it, they start to talk themselves out of it. And their career development stalls.

Yes, in order to achieve your goal, you might need to make some sacrifices now. But if you can appreciate that one, two or three years of ‘sacrifice’ could mean a lifetime of success and happiness, then I promise you – it will be worth it. Focus on the long-term gain and not the short-term pain, and you’ll be where you want to be in no time.

So – what action, big or small, could you take today to bring you one step closer to your goal?

If at any stage in the process, you stop taking action, chances are you are focusing on the pain of leaving your current role (the stress of job-hunting, lack of certainty, lack of financial security, job interviews etc). Write down all the positive things this new job or career will bring you and focus on that instead.

How did you find a career that you loved? Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts below!

Want to take control of your career development once and for all? Email me at or visit to find out how I can help you!

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About the Author

Zeta Yarwood is recognised as a leading Career Coach and NLP Life Coach in Dubai, helping individuals across the world to achieve success in all areas of their lives. With a degree in Psychology and over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – working for multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Zeta is an expert in unlocking human potential. Passionate about helping people discover their strengths, talents and motivation, Zeta lives to inspire others to dream big and create the life and career they really want.

For further information and inspiration, please visit or follow on Twitter @zetayarwoodLinkedin or Facebook

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