Careers

Former Google career coach shares 4 secrets for figuring out what to do with your life

Former Google career coach Jenny Blake shares her best advice in "Pivot."
Source: Mark Hanauer
Former Google career coach Jenny Blake shares her best advice in "Pivot."

There's a science to achieving your goals, and Isaac Newton's law of motion does a good job of summing it up: Objects that are at rest stay at rest, while objects in motion stay in motion.

And as former Google career coach Jenny Blake tells CNBC, "Being stuck in one place for too long is not going to work."

Blake personally helped more than 1,000 people advance while at Google and lays out her wisdom in "Pivot: The Only Move that Matters is Your Next One." She says there are specific strategies any professional can use to stop feeling stuck.

Here are methods ways she suggests for giving your life and your career a boost:

1. Draw a "mind map"

A "mind map" is a visual diagram of your interests and goals, and drawing one can help you recognize what's important to you.

Write the year in the center of a piece of paper, and then draw spokes with different themes that are important to you. Your spokes, for example, could include personal life, career, health and fitness or skill building.

Then, for each one of those themes, add additional spokes for specific goals in that area.

"It's my favorite way to brainstorm," says Blake.

2. Think of personal or work projects you could start

If you're lacking a sense of excitement or challenge at work or in your personal life, create it.

"Start asking, 'What projects am I most excited to tackle in terms of what I can learn the most from?'" Blake tells CNBC.

Personal side projects, or "pivots" as Blake likes to call them, can be starting a blog, reading a list of books on a new topic, taking a course or building something from scratch. Work pivots can be taking on a new responsibility in your current role or asking your boss if you could explore a new opportunity.

Doing these small projects will give you a sense of purpose and add fun to your life, she says. They also take the pressure off of feeling like you have to have one all-consuming passion in life, which many people don't.

3. Focus on the skills you'd like to have

The days of landing a great job simply by rising through the ranks of a company are in the past, according to the career coach.

"A career is not a ladder anymore," Blake says.

Instead, the best way to continue to rise in your career is by building a cache of skills that make you valuable. For example, if you know you need to know more about a certain subject, or improve your collaboration, writing or technology skills, find a way to learn that skill either inside or outside of the office.

Pursuing even one skill to develop will give you a sense of personal or professional progress.

4. Don't stay stuck because of fear

The biggest mistake people make in their careers and in their personal lives, the career expert says, is not doing anything because they are scared.

If you're worried something, figure out a plan to address it. Whether it's having a conversation with your boss, asking for help or making more time for yourself, moving is better than staying still, Blake says.

"A lot of people ask, 'What if I make the wrong move? What if I make the wrong decision?'" she says. "But almost no one — in fact, no one — that I spoke with regretted their pivots."

Check out what Blake's advice for what to do if you've hit a career plateau