WHEN I wrote an article about careers in crisis, I received e-mail from people who were at a similar career or financial crossroads.

An e-mail message from Mr C, in particular, moved me. He had lost his job and had been unable to find another one since. He believed that his age (he did not give it, but I presume he was in his 50s) was one of the reasons employers were overlooking his applications. His prolonged joblessness and lack of an income were seriously affecting his mental and psychological health.
I also heard from a woman who used to be a director of sales in a major hotel. She earned a great income, but decided to leave her job a few years ago to start her own business, which eventually failed. Today, in her 50s, she is in poor health, unable to find another job and bitter that she is without support or help.

As a career and life coach, what can I say to people who find themselves in such circumstances, or to those who are at a career crossroads?

Here are some suggestions on how you can move forward:

1. Become your own coach

Imagine what advice a real-life coach would give you at this point in your life. For a start, you need to get out of the “poor me” mode, so remove all negative thoughts and emotions from your mind. Stay objective in this self-coaching exercise.

2. List your goals

Make a list of what you really want for yourself in the next year and the next five years. Remember, no negative thoughts.

You are not allowed to put yourself down, so don’t think: “I don’t even have money to buy lunch, how can I be financially free in five years?”

These are self-defeating thoughts that will get you nowhere. Your job as your own coach is to visualise the best for yourself. Let your imagination take flight and don’t worry at this point how it is going to be done.

This is a really crucial part as most people stop here before they even get started. Let the Law of Attraction take action. If you are always thinking negative thoughts like: “I’m too old to get a job” or “I have no support” and so on, you will project negativity and a lack of confidence, which can affect your chances of finding employment. You will be a victim of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, go ahead and list what you want to achieve. As the Rabbit said to Alice in the story, Alice In Wonderland, when she asked for directions: “If you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter very much which road to take.”

3. Review your strengths

What are you good at? What are your past experiences? What have you done well before? What are your past achievements and successes? No matter how mundane they seem, just write them down so you can build as long a list as possible. So your list can include things like, “Make a good cup of coffee”, “Good listener” and so on.

4. List people who can help you

Don’t just name those who will help or rule out contacts: “Forget about Brian, he won’t want to help me!”

5. List people you can help

Think of how you can use your strengths and abilities to help other people. For example: “I can help to encourage and motivate others who are at a crossroads like me.” Or “I can coach young people who are less experienced than me in my field.”

The importance of doing this is to move away from the mindset of taking to one of giving. There are just too many people who are always thinking: “I want to get a job that gives me…” and too few who ask: “What value can I offer to this company?”

I have interviewed countless job seekers in my years as a manager and business owner, and I can tell you the majority of them are in the “taking” rather than “giving” mode.

One recent example is a young man who walked into an interview for a marketing executive job and promptly asked: “How much are you paying?”

I was stunned and almost retorted: “Can I first decide whether you are suitable for the job?”

Finally, as motivational guru Zig Ziglar said, you just have to go as far as you can see. Lay down an action plan, start talking to the people on your lists, and go with a win-win approach. Focus on how you can help someone first, rather than on what you can get out of him.