What should I do with my career?
“I have no idea. Should I quit my job, seek a promotion or suck it up and keep grinding it out?”
We’re all faced with these questions. I’m faced with them right now. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do. Your mentors try and tell you what they believe you should do. All of the opinions end up swirling around our heads like an out of control tornado.
No decision ends up getting made in this state of mind and so you never take a risk and stay in that job you hate.
It’s your choice.
That’s the harsh reality. Only you know what the right career choice is and your former boss or the Internet can’t make the choice for you.
In the last few years, there’s been a lot of research done into gut reactions and the connection to your brain. When faced with my own career decisions I tend to pick the one that makes me slightly anxious (which helps us grow) and the one I get a strong gut reaction to.
Avoid bad advice.
Things such as:
– Wait for the right time – it’s never the right time.
– Keep thinking about the decision and you’ll figure it out – no you won’t.
– Find people who are more successful than you and ask them – they don’t know you like you do.
The three tips above don’t work.
Only you can make the right career decision and no amount of time, thinking or numbers of successful people can change that. If something feels wrong in your career, fix it. Quit waiting for things to get better and take action.
What’s holding us back from that big career decision?
Not knowing what you want. You have to get clear about what you want in your career. A great exercise to try is designing your ideal workweek and figuring out what activities and tasks you love doing.
Often when we don’t know what we want it’s because we let fear into the driver’s seat of our life or we’ve ignored our gut reactions for so long that we’ve drowned out our own internal voice.
“Suppressing your thoughts and emotions and telling yourself you’re happy with your career only makes things worse”
Honesty with yourself makes career decisions easier.
The current career you have may suck, yet each day you wake up and think it’s good because you have cool work colleagues, earn lots of money, like the nice office or because it’s close to home.
All of these attributes of your work are fantastic but if you hate the work you do, no amount of nice furniture or good colleagues is going to change that.
These things are short-term incentives. In the long-term, if you don’t make the right career decision and do something you love, you get old and realize that you have a bucket load of regrets. This makes you feel even worse.
“You can’t avoid your dream career forever”
Warning signs in your career.
Are you pumped to go to work on Monday morning?
Do you obsess over how quickly the weekend comes around?
Are you fussing over the weather?
Are you waking up late for work?
Do you count down the minutes to lunchtime?
Do you shy away from taking a promotion or applying for the next role?
Do you constantly dream about starting a business?
These are all warning signs that something needs to change in your career. In other words, you need to make the right career decision instead of taking the easy road you’ve been driving down for years with cruise control enabled, your hand out the window and no cars in front of you.
You can ignore the warning signs for a while until you’re forced to make a major career decision. Either you’re not performing well enough, there’s a company restructure, you lose your job, you get demoted, etc. Eventually, you have to make a career decision that is right.
If you wait too long, you’ll be forced. Making a career decision because you want to instead of being forced to, is less stressful to manage. Avoid the warnings and you’ll have one of those dreaded career meltdowns – eventually.
My current career decision story.
I’m sharing this story with you to remind you that everyone (including a viral blogger) has these same issues. All of our problems are the same. Remember?
A few months back, I started looking for my dream career. I applied with four different recruiters, worked the LinkedIn Job Centre, met with all of my main business contacts and even sent cold emails.
It took about three months and I was down to five options. The option I wanted the most had been something I’d thought about since 2013. The company had always been on my radar and at the same time I was looking, they contacted me.
Now I’m not going to get all spiritual and say it was “The Universe.” Let’s just call it good timing for now. After a few calls, it was clear that this career opportunity was going to be a viable option.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was blinded by doubt, anxiety and the belief that I couldn’t do it. All the faith I had in myself died away.
That’s when I used some of the techniques in this article to get to the bottom of the issue. Upon a lot of analysis, I realized a few key things:
– My gut reaction said do it
– It felt right regardless of the enormous growth required
– My current career had hit a plateau and I’d been with the same company for 6 years
– The people I was dealing with felt like family and honesty was at their core
This self-reflection made me realize that the right career decision may not be the easiest. It sounds obvious and most good advice is. It goes deeper than that. I realized I had some limiting beliefs about who I was and who I could become.
Once I addressed these and realized that no one has all the answers when they embark on a new career, I started to convince myself of what I had to do. The very fact that I didn’t have all the answers is what forms the new blank canvas I was so desperately seeking.
Not knowing everything is a gift. It means I have to grow and learn to find the answers and the human mind loves a puzzle.
We’re making things too complex.
In the story I just told, one of the challenges I realized we all face is that we try and make career decisions really complex. I’ve found that the right career decision is made up of these simple components:
– Doing something you love
– Being forced to grow
– Getting uncomfortable for a while
All of the other factors we bring into the mix cloud our judgment and force us into overthinking mode.
You must decide.
“The career decision you must make is the one you think about so often”
Maybe you’re lucky and you don’t have these thoughts. If you’re in that 1% bracket, then ignore this advice. For the rest of us, we must turn these thoughts of what we want our life’s work to be into a reality.
The quicker we make the right career decision, the sooner we can get on with the job of being passionate day-to-day. Your career can be something that you love and not all about making money.
I’ve learned over the last few months with my own career decisions that I am the puppet master. Making the right decision sooner will relieve a lot of the wasteful thoughts you have.
Doing something you love will change the way you treat people, how you react to negative situations and even the time you spend with your family.
Being pissed off because of your career is not normal. Acknowledge if that is you and do something about it.
The right career choice is just around the corner.