Whether you're just starting out, stuck in a job you hate, are working in a toxic environment, or you're just not a good fit where you are, it's never too late to start over and discover a career that you love.
When you're not happy at work, the stress can negatively impact your productivity and ultimately contribute to job burnout, which can have an effect on your health and well-being. The reason we struggle so much with finding meaningful work that brings us joy is because for too long we've looked at work as a something we had to do, instead of something we get to do. This boils down to the difference between necessity and choice.
So, if you're like so many and have a nagging feeling you're meant to do more, want to do something different, and feel stuck trying to figure out what you want to do, let me assure you that you're not alone and it's possible to choose a happy and meaningful career.
The truth is you may very well know what you want to do in life, you just need to give yourself permission to figure it all out. Here are five essential things you can do to get started:
1. Asses how you got here.
What was the motivator or driving force behind your current career choice?
2. Reconnect to what matters to you.
At some point our childish clarity, on what we wanted to do when we grew up, faded as we began listening to the world around us. We ignored our values and what we wanted and our careers evolved around expectations set by others, not ourselves. So, in order to get back to what truly matters, we have to reconnect to our values, interests, and gifts.
Spend some time getting to "know thyself" absent from societal ideals of what you should do and who you should be. Identify your unique gifts and strengths and then mine through the experiences of your life to develop the themes, patterns and vision of your future.
3. Manage your inner chatter.
Make no mistake about it, as you begin to explore what you want, negative chatter will emerge telling you, "you're crazy," or "just get back to work," or "how can you possible do anything else," or the big one, "you're going to go broke."
We all have a constant stream of chatter that has formed mental models of our reality and how we thing the world is. But these are merely stories we've been fed or constructed that can be changed or re-written. To step in a happy and meaningful career, you're going to have to get rid of the old way of thinking to open the doors to create something new.
When you can start to let go of words like should, can't and how, you'll start to see what's possible for you.
4. Start identify careers you like.
Now that you've allowed yourself the space to explore what interests you, start making a list of potential careers that you feel would be right for you. By now, you may have identified a few careers that interest you. Whether it's something new or something that you place on the back burner years ago and are now revisiting, don't eliminate any options right now.
It's important that you include everything that interests you, regardless of what others say or what they may feel about your list. Write out what gets you excited and work that seems meaningful for you. This simple exercise will help you to start to see new possibilities for your life and career.
5. Take one step at a time.
As you go through this process, pay attention to what you’ve learned about yourself and what really energizes and interest you. Then create a plan to do something every day to move you closer to what you want. Build a new network of colleagues and friends, propose a few changes in your workload, start volunteering, suggest a new initiative, or take a seminar or course. Look for paid or unpaid internships to get new valuable experience.
What ever you do, don't make big leaps and don't burn any bridges. This is a process, not an event, so give yourself the time, support and space to create small changes with big momentum. You're at a crucial stage in life. Making a career decision that’s right for you is critical to your happiness. So take the time to focus on each step of the equation. You owe it to yourself.
Need to translate all of this into a strategic action plan to pivot into a meaningful career? Click here and apply for a complimentary discovery session and let's create a plan of acton for you.
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