A Genogram Focuses Career Exploration

In a world of endless possibilities, infinite choices, and a drive thru mentality it's no wonder we may have a difficult time understanding who we are, deciding who we want to be, and knowing how to do it.

We have access to watch every dream followed through on TV and social media. The smorgasboard of cop shows, doctor shows, food shows, reality tv, veterinary and adventure shows, etc. teaches us the possibilities are endless and our choices are infinite.

The issue is we live in a fast paced world. The demand to have it now, conditions us to believe that we can take a semester of classes and become [fill in career here] overnight.

The work ethic to become what we want doesn't always match up with the fantasy in our heads.

Hard work and grit needs to be taught young. When you ask a kindergartener, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" pay attention what intrigues them. What inspires them? Begin building this narrative around the talents and gifts of the child. Cultivate and encourage their desires. Observe what they do well in school or outside of school. As they grow older talk to them about building contingency plans.

Chances are, if you're reading this then you are not a kindergartener.

You have most likely lived a good portion of your life and are still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. You may be looking for a second career.

That's ok! It's never too late to begin.

However, wasting time moving forward isn't the best option for anyone. You need to plan out your future based on your talents and gifts. In order to do that you need to understand your past and the role of family work patterns and values.

This is where a career genogram can get you on track! Career genograms help a client's career development and inform about familial and historical career legacies, self-motivational factors, work values, and lifestyle interests to name a few.

I am going to use my example of a Career Genogram. I am a 44 year old female with 3 children as indicated by the circled purple triangle outlined in turquoise. My father's side of the family (on the left) has minimal post secondary education. This is the family that raised me on a daily basis. They valued hard work and ambition, which they put into the multi-generational family business. The idea that Higbies "pick themselves up by their bootstraps" was gospel.

On the maternal side of the family were the Morrills. They value hard work and the value in earning an education. Every person, starting with my Aunt, earned at least a Bachelor's degree. Most of them received a Master's degree. They empower their children, encourage each other and carry a positive mindset. Their familial career motto is 'help someone else on your way up'.

Although I did not live near them, this side of the family impacts my value system to this day. They taught me that education is the great equalizer and an investment worth making in yourself.

As I process the takeaways of the Genogram exercise, I realized why my career exploration has halted at times. My family of origin didn't know how to navigate career and college exploration.

This makes me second guess every choice I make. I wasn't prepared or had all of the information to be successful. At times I was on the right path. Then I would end up persuaded to go a different way altogether.

Despite it all, I stayed in the lane built on my strengths and personality. I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology-a field I felt the most home in after shifting through 5 majors in college. Not being able to be a counselor with a Bachelor's Degree, I became a High School teacher. I burned out after 15 years of shuffling standardized tests scores in education. I enjoyed students, but deep inside felt I was doing harm with more focus on test scores and little focus on the hearts and minds of my students.

I took the jump out of a very safe plane with a parachute strapped to my back. I always had a strong desire to earn a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling so I enrolled at Rollins College.

I was elated, free falling out of the plane the first 2 years of the program. Yet, at times free falling was uncomfortable because I needed to learn new lessons and make character changes. The degree afforded the reflection for both.

Then year 3 came and I had 2 major life changes which included the death of my mom and the birth of my daughter. My parachute flies open, my whole body jolts up and my shoulders scream bringing the speed to a screeching halt.

What I have learned is these are the challenges in life. I remind myself life would have dealt its cards even if I wasn't chasing my dream and making big moves.

It isn't going to be easy to make career moves if you have been thinking about doing so. But I promise you it will be worth it. You have one life to live. Make it into something incredibly special and unique to who you are.

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​© 2019 by Audacious Life Coaching, LLC.

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