19 Mar 2012

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Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is

Last time, I explained that the term ‘stopping the tide’ was a manoeuvre ships used during the sail age to preserve their progress in a storm. As I also mentioned, our business and career dreams are also at the mercy of the tides of life.

Today, let’s explore some steps we can take to stop the tide knocking us off our desired course.

1. MAP OUT YOUR GOAL- A lot of times, the reason why some people are easily tossed around by the tide of life is simply because they have no defined destination. Imagine a sailor putting his ship on the sea without a definite destination in mind, what will it matter whatever direction the tide blows it?

Our long term goals is what we call the ‘big picture’ only with it clear in your mind can you like a sailor monitor your progress in life.  You can’t make just one big leap to get there, remember that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Only with a big picture mentality can you map out the small steps you need to get to your desired destination, rather than hoping every road will lead there- it is a tragedy travelling the thousand miles facing the wrong direction, so start by writing down your long term goal and be clear about it. 

The next thing is to figure out the steps you need to take to achieve this goal. Please don’t follow the crowd; research to make sure your choice of action will get you to your destination- it doesn’t always have to be another degree! When I decided on a career in coaching, the first thought that came to my mind as a Nigerian schooled in the art of going to school (hope that makes sense) was a university qualification.

After only one module being ‘lectured’ by a PHD in lieu lecturer, I knew that a university qualification would not give me the skills I needed to practise- I don’t care about critical analysis and book references! All I wanted was the practical skills and enough knowledge needed to help people break out of their limitations and unleash their potentials.

I dropped out and chose a non academic provider that gave me just that. It was more expensive, but by the time I finished my training and got my first paying client, I had done so much assessed practice during my training gaining confidence and skill, that it seemed I’d been coaching for years.

2. PAVE THE WAY –Once you’ve decided on the path you want to take, learn as much as you can about your field- whether your interest is paid employment or self employment. What skill/experience/attitude is required? For example, if you are following a career in customer service, you have got to have a friendly nature and tactful in speaking (in an ideal world). If it’s a business idea, do you need a licence to practise? How long does it take to get one? In business we do what is called a PESTLE analysis to prepare/forestall for eventuality.

A friend of mine was moving from banking back to pharmacy which was her first degree and rented a shop to run a pharmacy.  Because she had been out of the field for a long time, getting a licence to run the pharmacy took longer than expected.  While she was waiting for her licence, somebody else opened a pharmacy next door to where she had rented, knocking her plan off course because the law says two pharmaceutical shops cannot be in close proximity.

One good way of getting needed work experience on your CV is taking up unpaid work-volunteering. If sustenance/survival is not a priority for you, ask to work as an unpaid staff in a company/organisation which you believe would equip you with the skill/experience you need to boost your career plan. When you go in, let the manager know what you want from the work experience and always look for opportunities that will advance your career.

Such an opportunity would set your CV apart from someone else with either same or more qualification than you, but with less experience. Someone wrote about her unpaid experience, “It was amazing how much I had done and how much I knew by drawing on things I would not have ordinarily thought of as ‘work experience’, such as extensive volunteer initiatives through my church.”
An important thing you need as you put together your big picture, is a financial plan.

In a business plan it’s called a ‘survival budget’ but it’s also useful if you are considering changing jobs or career.
Do you have enough financial resources/backup to support you in the early days or if you run into a storm along the way? I know some people reading this might be saying, “That’s exactly the problem! I don’t have any means of surviving if I dare change course.”

If your ‘why’ is convincing enough, you’ll find your way around the ‘how’. You would be shocked the jobs I have taken up to keep my dream alive- just think of the prodigal son and the pigs! YUCK!

You can also consider relocation.  I know people who have been forced to leave Lagos to go back to places like Ilorin after years of unsuccessful job search only to find out their skills are in high demand back home.
Today I hear that a lecturer in a private university in Iwo earns about =N= 130,000. Compare his returns with someone earning even triple in Lagos or Abuja.

Gbonju Akintola is a UK based certified professional personal & business performance coach, facilitator and international speaker.  She qualifies through the Chartered Institute for Personnel Development (CIPD) and the Coaching Academy. For more information on how you or your organisation can benefit from her services, visit or email

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