"What do I want to be when I grown up?"
Who hasn't had that thought at least once?
(Heck it gnawed at me for YEARS. Over and over. Relentlessly!)
I never understood how some people knew what they wanted to do from an early age. I was so jealous!
As a child, if pressed, I would say I wanted to be a lawyer or a fashion designer. (But really, secretly, I just wanted to get married and have babies.) I had no clue; growing up I wasn't exposed to a lot of careers.
When I went to college I didn't know what major to pick so I choose one by default. They talk about high schools failing students by giving them their diploma when they can't read. Colleges fail students by casting them into the real world when they don't know who they want to be or what they want to do.
In our culture, so much of our identity is tied to our career because our career is tied to our earning potential, so it's a reflection of our status. (It's the lens through which our culture defines our worth). Chances are when you meet a new person one of the first questions they will ask you is:
"What do you do?"
"Where do you work?"
Not knowing why you are here or what you are meant to do can be soul crushing and leave you feeling stuck, lost, bored, depressed or worse. And you definitely don't want to answer those above questions at a networking event. To the new person you are meeting, you either come off as negative or fake.
How can you get over that stuck feeling- and get closer to finding a meaningful career?
If you work at a big company, your search for something exciting and energizing might be as easy as finding a new job (internally). Consider open positions to see if there is anything that sounds like it would be a good fit. Maybe you've heard great things about a specific manager and that person has an opening in their department? It might not be your dream job but might be a chance to be mentored by someone who can influence and shape your career. Really, it all depends on your goals and what is the most important thing to you as you grow your career.
Depending on your company culture, you may even want to talk to your boss or someone in Human Resources. If you are a great employee, they will want you to be happy because happy employees are productive! Maybe there isn't anything for you now you never know what's included in next years budget or who is leaving the company or being promoted. Your manager or HR are probably clued in to future opportunities.
>>>One Foot Out the Door
But what if you don't like your job and you don't want to (or can't) stay at your company? In order to start a career change you need to gather as much information as possible- so time to be best friends with YOU- something that many of us struggle with!
What specifically do you not like about your job? In contrast, are there aspects of your job you do like? What are you good at? The more you can get very focused and do some soul searching the easier it will be to find a new job that excites you.
Another way to figure out what you want to do next is to focus on what you are good at. What are your strengths? I recommend this free survey to find out what makes you unique. It's a good place to start so you can find out what sets you apart from other job seekers and enables you to sell yourself (your brand) for new career opportunities.
Apparently, I'm funny.Damn funny. And I am so grateful for that strength.
In the meantime, do more of what you LOVE!
Add in activities you enjoy. Take a class, start a new hobby or join a new group to meet people and grow your network.
For example, when I was feeling stuck I started getting very involved in a volunteer leadership group. I was able to gain new skills and network with a dynamic group of women. Eventually they nominated me to be President (I've never had a bigger pit of fear gnawing at my stomach then the day I said yes). This leadership opportunity gave me a unique experience to grow personally and professionally. It also contributed to my confidence and made me realize I was meant to do more. The group and new challenging experiences gave me the skills but more importantly the courage to leave my job after 14 years to chase my dreams.
If you are feeling stuck, start by taking small actions to feel unstuck! Or as I love to say....Bring the Action!
One way to do that? Attend my (free) Dream BIG presentation "What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up? Secrets To Finding The Job of Your Dreams" on Thursday, October 29th at 6:15 p.m. Click here to learn more.