Holley M. Kholi-Murchison has managed musicians, helmed after-school programs, and quite literally wrote the book on expressing yourself confidently and authentically. She’s also built a growing business by advocating for marginalized voices through speaking, coaching, and consulting—and helped other creatives find success in their fields along the way. In her new course, Creating Your Dream Career: Uncover & Apply Your Creative Strengths, the Harlem-born, North Carolina-based consultant shares her expertise, asking big questions, setting forth personal examples, and walking through the past and present breakthroughs that lead to long-term success. “Think about it like you’re building a house,” she explains. “Imagine trying to put the roof on first. This is the foundation work—this is your core structure.” Read on for a taste of her advice, and take the course for broader conversations, critical worksheets, and the opportunity to share your journey with like-minded students.

Look for patterns in your past.

From the books you read to the street you grew up on, every part of your story lays the groundwork for your next chapter. Think about each step that’s taken you to where you are today—jobs, volunteer projects, after-school activities, or relationships—and look for common threads. “All of those pieces are the core of who you are,” says Murchison. “They not only help inform what future skills and strengths you want to develop, but they help highlight what you bring to the table and what table you actually want to be participating in.”

Take inventory of your present. 

Before you can plan for the future, you have to take stock of where you are now. “Think about that both personally and professionally,” says Murchison. Consider what parts of your day make you excited to wake up in the morning, and how you’re making a difference on and off the clock. Feeling stuck? Knoli-Murchison recommends imagining what chaos might ensue if you were to ignore all of your responsibilities for two weeks. What do these duties have in common? The answer might hold clues about your strengths and talents.

Dream big for the future—and put it in writing.

If nothing was standing in your way, what would your dream career look like one year from now? “You can write your future,” says Murchison, who herself has seen opportunities materialize once she put pen to paper. “How do you want to be applying your skills and your strengths?” The clarity and focus offered by writing down your goals can allow you to better recognize potential opportunities—and tune out the noise. 

Make an action plan. 

Progress happens bit by bit. Once you set the big goals, try breaking them down into smaller steps you can execute. “The most important piece for this action plan is that it’s time-bound,” says Murchison, who recommends setting deadlines for yourself in three-month increments. Check in on your progress weekly, changing course if you recognize that something isn’t working. Along the way, celebrate what you do accomplish and keep working towards the next milestone, big or small. “The intention is for it to get you a step and a step and a step closer to the dream creative career that you’re trying to craft.

Create Your Dream Career with Holley

Uncover and apply your creative strengths in a new Skillshare Original.