Feeling stuck in your career and wondering what to do next?
Getting clarity on your next career step doesn’t have to be hard, and it can be fun. It starts with throwing away the expectations that others have of us. Expectations drive us to hold a fixed view as to the job we ‘should’ do. However, accepting a role just because we ‘should’, isn’t likely to make us fulfilled and satisfied.
1. Know your career drivers
When identifying your next career step it’s best to do this in the context of what you want out of life.
This is because how people view their career differs. For some it may be merely a job that pays the bills. While others may see work as central to their identity and so be seeking a job that’s fulfilling and challenging.
Because each person’s career aspirations differ, so too is what motivates their career choices. For example, you may be seeking a career that is:
- Highly stable and secure, with set working hours and high flexibility; or
- Well paid, senior level and highly challenging; or
- Provides learning opportunities and overseas travel
Identifying your career drivers and parameters helps to set the scene for the environment you want to work in.
2. Don’t lock in too early
Be cautious about getting fixated on one thing and locking yourself in too early. When you do you can inadvertently close yourself off to other opportunities. You often find the alignment between your passion and what you are really good at by trying lots of different things. Be willing to experiment with options. Volunteer to get involved in different activities. Seek new learning.
Life if all about experience, and so too is your career. The more you travel, network, are involved with groups, test and try new things the greater your ability to see the world and the opportunities it offers in a different way. As well, by talking to a diverse range of people about the work they do you’ll gain insights into new areas which will help to expand your field view. This is all about expanding the range of what’s possible, so you can discover what may be a good fit for you.
3. Take a risk
Pursuing your passion and dream job often comes with a ‘risk’ tag attached. It can be easier to go with the flow and to follow what everyone else is doing. Taking a path that others around you haven’t taken means you need to get comfortable with ambiguity and also believe in yourself.
There will be people around you who question your choice and challenge your thinking. Don’t let their fear of failure stymie your progress. The more you are willing to take a risk and to ‘have a go’ the more likely you are to find a career that is rewarding – on many levels.
4. Make the trade offs
When I made the decision to leave corporate I walked away from the security of a high paying corporate salary into the unknown of running my own business. I was willing to take that risk and make the accompanying trade-off so I could pursue a career change that aligned with my aspirations.
Life is a series of choices and often to do one thing, requires you giving up something else. For example, you may be willing to accept less money initially because the role is a great learning opportunity, and provides the stepping stone for your next big career leap. It’s your career, so you get to choose.
Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.
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