Discover your journalistic USP and design the career you want Monday 20th June 2016. Blog by Hilly Janes, WIJ events chair

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Our latest workshop was hosted exclusively for WIJ by Life Clubs, the life and career group-coaching organisation. Led by its founder, Nina Grunfeld, who very kindly hosted 14 guests in the elegant drawing room of her home in Westminster, the aim of the evening was to help journalists who want to get more out of their career but aren’t sure how.

The gathering reflected WIJ’s broad membership, from those at the start of their careers to bearers of bus passes, but they all had one thing in common – the need to make a move, albeit for different reasons. Younger attendees reported being caught up in a fast and furious output of content for online sites, at the expense of longer, more thoughtful investigations or creative projects, or lacking the time to form a strategy. Older members were faced with reduced demand for print journalism or mature staff, but eager to find new directions and outlets for their considerable skills and talents.

Life Club workshops are intensely practical, with lots of exercises that enable attendees to identify their true strengths, skills and passions by uncovering the commonality of the things they love doing and reflecting on past achievements. The written exercises are tried and tested, backed up by a lot of verbal encouragement from Nina (and her fellow coach Louisa Burnand), and as the group relaxed and quickly felt at ease with each other, there was plenty of supportive discussion and sharing of ideas.

Sometimes, it seems, it takes a complete stranger to articulate something very obvious about yourself, but that you may never have realised -  what Nina calls a ‘Lifebulb Moment’. One member, for example, thought of herself as someone who avoids challenges – pretty self-limiting. But the exercises demonstrated that she embraces them – quite a life-changing discovery. Another finally admitted to herself that while her regular gig offers security, the subject-matter bores her. She’ll seek more variety, and to satisfy her love of pulling new people and ideas together.

At the end of the session, Nina asked everyone to set one simple goal that they could achieve during the week as a concrete step towards making changes. To stick to the plan, everyone appointed a buddy to whom they would be accountable.

As a taster of just how effective the workshop was, here’s a sample of some of the goals individuals set themselves:

-       Research four or five outlets to approach for possible commissions, instead of just thinking about going freelance.

-       Go to a university open evening with a view for to signing up for a career-enhancing part-time post-grad degree

-       Make more time for investigations and long-term projects instead of just churning out online content for a busy news site

-       Focus on how a talent for empathy and sensitivity can be applied to her freelance work -  by doing more interviews, for example.

 And here are some of the comments made by those who took part:

“An interesting eveningfiguring out unique selling points”

“It was a great evening and I would recommend it for anyone who is floundering and questioning their career choice, or wondering how to put the enjoyment back into their working life.”

“Indulging several hours just to think about ourselves, our strengths and our future possibilities was a real treat. Nina and Louisa from Life Clubs set the scene for intense and inspiring discussions, and deep inner thoughts. By the end of the session, the room was sparking with ‘life bulb moments’ as we shared our self-discoveries and mapped out next career steps.”   

If you didn’t come to the workshop but would like the sound of it, we will organise another one later in the year. Please contact email wijuk@aol.com to express your interest.

Find out more about regular Life Club sessions in London here @LifeClubs

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