Starting a business or changing careers is often fraught with anxiety. We are moving outside of our comfort zone, naturally putting us in our “lizard brain,” the state of mind that resorts to impulsive and binary choices. To move clients past this state, counselors often use a tool called the ecomap to help clients reveal the rich resources at their disposal.
By taking a few minutes to sketch out the important places in your life -- work, school, gym, book group, alumni association and place of worship -- you can expand your vision of the services and people you can draw on for support. Ideally, your ecomap can empower you to navigate resources fully to make your daydream career a reality.
I use an ecomap to help career changers see possibilities in unexpected places. For example, I would start by asking you to draw a circle with your name at the center with lines radiating in four directions. Next, draw a slightly smaller circle at the end of each line. In each small circle, write the name of an organization or group with which you connect regularly.
For each organization listed (which usually extends beyond four), identify people you have met or interacted with in those places. Before you know it, you have an impressive network of people you can meet for coffee to ask for help with a job search. Among closer connections, you can request feedback on your career transition journey. Questions like “Have you ever had any thoughts about work for which I might be well-suited?” or “What skills and talents do I possess that you think I might not be aware of?” can help you make better choices moving forward and are best asked of someone who can offer you a fresh yet objective point of view.
In an upcoming blog post I will share another trick for continuing to make the most of this tool. Until then, share your thoughts on how the ecomap helped you (or ideas on how to make it more useful) by emailing me at email@example.com.