Sometimes in your career, just as I was, you are faced with nothing, nada, zilch, zero. In my case, it was the train crash that absolutely trashed my financial advice career and left me with no way back. For others, it may be the failure of a business, having to change direction to survive or even trying a new venture but not being sure where to start. Here are some tips on how to get going:
The value of trying
Not everything is the right choice of direction but unless you try, you'll never know what is. Maybe you have a hobby you are passionate about? Could it be a business? Was there something you always wanted to learn...but you basically drifted through school doing the minimum? Now is your chance to recapture that excitement of learning a new skill and feeling like you have achieved something. OK so if you are facing financial ruin, your focus is getting a job, anything that pays the bills. That doesn't mean you cannot launch yourself in a totally new direction. Work at that coffee shop, then go to evening classes, night school to learn a new trade or skill.
The liberating thing about having nothing is that anything is possible- it's a clean slate and all possibilities are open (well perhaps not being an astronaut...). This is the time to let your imagination run riot and consider all options.
Make a plan
Having identified your goal, you now need to do the nitty gritty planning bit. I can hear the groans. Planning is not very exciting- but it can be and it most certainly is crucial. I always say start at the end and work backwards. What does your dream job/life/enterprise look like? What needs to happen for it to come true?
Do an overall big picture plan of the main steps needed to achieve your goal. Think in terms of resources; money, time, people, professional advice. What and who do you need on board at each stage? There is a lot of free advice out there- it takes longer to access than paying someone to help you but then you are balancing time vs money.
Now fill in the smaller details. What is very important is to think in terms of critical actions. This is called critical path analysis in business and engineering circles. Basically, can you do tasks B, C, D without task A being done? When you are trying to move towards a goal there are always critical tasks that impact on you being able to do anything further. An example is - you cannot sell your services online without some sort of web presence and merchant account. So, make sure those tasks are done first.
Assess your progress
More groans from the audience...If you don't track your progress how do you truly know it's working? You may hope and sort of feel it's going in the right direction, but you could be dreadfully wrong. Tracking your return on investment is a must do. Have you made progress against the timescales in your original plan? Are you getting distracted by petty tasks that don't move you forward? Are you spending quality time on your goals or too much time posting on Facebook about them, not enough action?
Finally - persist, persevere, don't give up
Tenacity is the key. Yes, you will experience setbacks, minor and major. You must push through and keep going. Countless people give up on their goals just as they are about to make a breakthrough. Be realistic about this- if you have properly tracked your progress you will know if this is a dead end and you should start again. However, mostly you are just experiencing some discouragement and perhaps a bit of loneliness. Pursuing your goals can be lonely so try and create a network of support to help you maintain momentum. Paddington changed my life, but now, I am far more than just a train crash survivor. I picked myself up, dusted myself down and started all over again- so can you.