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Finding yourself at a career crossroads can be a scary but also an exciting time. (After all, the symptoms of anxiety and excitement are very similar).
Undoubtedly, the pandemic of the last two years has led to many questioning what they do for a living. We’ve seen the importance of putting ourselves first and realised that life is too short to be unhappy. Sadly some of us have also lost jobs and found ourselves inadvertently at that career crossroads.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry, all is not lost.
Indeed, there are benefits to finding yourself at career crossroads including the opportunity to find out about new roles and organisations, along with the chance to learn new skills and to strengthen your network.
What Is A Career Crossroads?
If you find yourself questioning what you do for a living, this could indicate that you are at a career crossroads.
Maybe you’ve climbed the career ladder, only to discover it was the wrong ladder. You may have been laid off from work or made redundant. Perhaps you have finished university with one career in mind but now you are having doubts.
On the other hand, you could be nearing retirement and want to finish your working career doing something you truly love which aligns with your values.
Perhaps you simply want a new challenge.
All of this can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and not knowing which way to turn.
We are likely to experience career crossroads throughout our working lives.
I personally found myself at one when I’d climbed the career ladder in Human Resources but had a niggling doubt that it wasn’t something that really fulfilled me.
Read more about my story and how I navigated my own crossroads.
How Do You Know You Are At A Career Crossroads?
There are a number of signs that you are at a career crossroads including:
- Feeling ‘stuck’
- Feeling bored and unfulfilled
- Finding yourself thinking that there must be more to life
- Feeling undervalued in your current role or organisation
If any of these signs apply to you, don’t despair, help is at hand!
The 3 Mistakes People Typically Make
As it can be such a scary time, people often don’t navigate their career crossroads particularly well. Here are 3 big mistakes people often make. They:
- Talk themselves out of taking action. Doubts along with a lack of self-belief and confidence can lead to us putting up huge roadblocks in our own way.
- Think they can only make a change if it’s a big one.
- Change organisations or jobs thinking that’s the answer without truly gaining clarity on what will fulfil them at work.
Why This Approach Doesn’t Work
Clearly, taking no action at all isn’t going to change a thing!
I’ve met so many people who are suffering from a kind of paralysis when it comes to making any changes in their careers.
Instead, they tell themselves ‘it’s only a job’ and carry on. The problem with this is we spend an awful lot of time working. That’s a long time to be miserable.
Jumping from job to job hoping things will be different next time also won’t work. The missing piece is gaining an understanding of what truly makes you tick, what inspires you, what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Here’s What To Do Instead
If you find yourself at a career crossroads, don’t panic! Here are my top tips on what to do:
- Create your own opportunities. Sitting back and expecting good things to come to you simply won’t work. The best way to do this is to get out there and speak to people. Feels scary? I get it. Firstly it’s important to remember that most people like to talk about themselves. Go armed with questions to ask them and then really listen to the answers. If you spot an opportunity, ask for more information or ask how you can help out.
- Spend some time considering your values and what you really want from your working life.
Audit your skills, strengths and development areas.
- Ask yourself what needs changing. Is it tweaks of your current role? Is it your boss, colleagues, environment, working hours or travelling time? Or is it something more fundamental such as a feeling that your job just doesn’t align with who you are and who you want to be?
- Get an outside perspective. A great way to do this is by hiring a coach who will have an impartial view. In addition, a coach can help you to identify your core values and complete your skills and strengths audit.
- Consider who can help you. Do your research. Look for people on LinkedIn who work in the field you are interested in. Make contact, ask specific questions. Use your existing networks.
- Take the first step. It doesn’t have to be a huge one. Be open to experimenting. Ask yourself what the smallest step is you could take and then take it. Use this approach to explore different options, it doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’.
Set yourself some goals.
- Try a visioning exercise. This can be as simple as closing your eyes and visualising your success. What does it look like, sound like, feel like? Where are you? Who is with you?
- Do your research. Look for interviews on a ‘day in the life’ (or conduct your own). Listen to podcasts, read books, attend conferences (there are some great virtual ones currently), find out about relevant professional associations.
- Say no to ‘should’. Instead of focusing on what you ‘should’ be doing, reframe this to what you WILL do.
- Try reverse engineering. Study what people you admire did to get to where they are now. That’s not to say to copy what they did, but it can help to spark ideas as to how you might subtly alter your own path.
- Update your CV and start looking at what’s out there
An additional important step is to gain clarity on what will fulfil you.
Here are some key questions to ask yourself in order to do that:
- How do you feel about your current role/industry/profession?
- What’s leading to these feelings?
- What thoughts are you having?
- Could the feelings and thoughts be due to the situation or is it the job itself?
- How positive is your current mindset?
- How might you change your mindset or your approach to things?
- What do you really love doing?
Finally, be sure to leave asking yourself questions about salary considerations until last or you may find you talk yourself out of options.
I Can Help You
I realise I’ve fired a lot at you and it probably feels a bit scary. First of all, remember how I started out this post by saying that anxiety and excitement share some of the same symptoms.
Secondly, try to see your career crossroads as an opportunity.
That said, it is a lot to process and work through. I can help you to gain clarity, provide you with protected time and space to work on yourself, and help you to get past limiting beliefs and ‘shoulds’.
Others will have their own agenda, I will focus entirely on yours.
Want to find out more? Book your free 30 minute discovery call now.
Navigating a career crossroads doesn’t have to be scary. With the right mindset and support, it can open opportunities that you may never have thought of.
To me, the key part is not to jump into anything straightaway without taking some time to reflect on your values, skills and strengths.
It’s also important to keep your options open, to explore and to network with as many contacts as you can.
Finally, appointing the right coach to provide you with support and accountability could be worth its weight in gold!
Are you at a career crossroads or have you been in the past? Let me know in the comments.