It’s completely normal to experience times when you question what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Often it can be around a milestone birthday or a particular life event – births, deaths or marriage can all make us question our choices in life so far. Listen to your inner voice – is it shouting ‘Is this it? Is this all there is? or ‘what am I doing with my life?’ This existential exploration can be described as a crisis, where we feel everything must change, or as a glitch where we need to tweak things a bit to get more satisfaction. The key is to turn either the crisis or the glitch into a career opportunity.
Questioning where you are is good!
If we didn’t check in every now and then with where we are heading, things can become stagnant, and your career can plateau. So don’t beat yourself up about the fact you are questioning your direction of travel, instead praise yourself for taking a moment to reflect on where you are and what you want.
To avoid rumination and overthinking ask yourself the following and write down the answers. Writing things down is a very positive way to manage your thoughts and keep things in perspective:
- Where am I right now in my career – what’s working and what’s not so good anymore?
- What are the 3 accomplishments that I am most proud of? (this is a good question to ask as it helps to get perspective and also spot your key strengths)
- Where do I want to be – when you imagine yourself in the future what do you see?
Check in with your values
Your values are your compass and help you navigate your choices, both in life and career. What is important to you?
Your values are evident in the way you do things. Values can range from a belief in hard work or punctuality to deeper principles such as self-reliance, concern for others or harmony with the environment. Consider autonomy, freedom, creativity, achievement, family, independence, security.
Being true to your values makes you authentic and helps you stand out from the crowd. You become like a magnet, attracting people who hold similar values, whether they are employers, customers, colleagues or suppliers. If you feel like your career and your values are out of line then think about what it would take to address this? Is it salvageable or irredeemable?
The answers will reveal whether what you’re experiencing is a glitch or more of a crisis. This is important as it will determine the level of change you need to make – a full blown career change, a move to a new organisation or approaching your current job in a different way.
Turn it into a career opportunity
Having had time to reflect and examine your career, now you can plan what action you need to take to achieve your ideal career. It doesn’t matter whether you are considering a radical pivot or a shift in your existing career, you are going to be moving, changing or doing something differently. The certainty is is that nothing will stay exactly the same. And taking action will reduce anxiety over any change you need to make, and help you feel in control of your situation, rather than it controlling you. Of course, you may need to enlist some help here, either a coach or a trusted friend, or work through the following on your own:
- What goal(s) am I setting myself for my career? – break these down into 3 year, 1 year, 6 months, 3 months and 1 month
- Who can help me? Identify the key people who will support or assist you in achieving your goal
- What are the first steps I need to take to begin?
- What is the difference my changes will make to how I feel about my career? This is important to tap into your motivation ad understand what will drive you forward.
Your career matters – it gives you a sense of identity, purpose and confidence. Don’t underestimate the value of doing work that gives you meaning and satisfaction. It’s worth a period of introspection if the outcome is a deep feeling of fulfillment and joy in what you do!
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