Have you ever been miserably unhappy in your career, but have no idea what to do instead? The only thing you’re sure about is that you want out now.
John Steinbeck said, “to find where you are going, you must know where you are.” I love that. You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going, or even how you’re going to get there, but to get started you do need a reference point. You need to know what it is you’re moving away from.
As you explore the reasons you’re unhappy in your current situation, you can use what you discover as a guide for moving toward work that would be more fulfilling. Here are a few suggestions to help you move on from a negative situation:
Pay attention to your resistance
A favorite writer of mine, Barbara Winter, wrote a delightful blog post pointing out that most people do know what their dream is, but they’ve somehow shoved it aside or even buried it. If you’re unhappy but not sure where to go next, look at what you’re avoiding. According to Winter, the stronger your resistance is to something, the closer you may be to your dream. So try listening to your resistance and use it as a clue to more satisfying work.
Enjoy the journey
Getting on the road and moving forward without a clear destination isn’t such a bad thing. In the process of reinventing yourself you can discover what’s important to you. As Ursula LeGuin said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”. And maybe you’re “running away” from all the right things – things like corporate cubicles, 9 to 5 sameness, office politics, long commutes, and work that compromises your values. As you identify what you don’t want, stop for a time and think what it is you are looking for. Before long, you’ll discover your path.
Create your own reality
Try thinking outside the box. Many believe that the old job market is not coming back, and that we’ll be seeing new ways of making a living emerge out of this recession. In the future, instead of working in “jobs”, we’ll be creating our own businesses. If you’re tired of feeling like a cog in someone else’s wheel, maybe that’s a clue that you would prefer to be more in control of your work and would enjoy having your own business.
Be content with a good fit
Don’t get hung up on the idea that there is only one true career out there for you. I often talk about finding the work you were meant to do, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to one particular job. How you express your unique blend of talents, strengths, and values can take any number of forms. It’s often a matter of finding what fits you best at a given point in your life.
Allow yourself to envision what you want
An important part of the career coaching process is visioning. Give yourself permission to picture where you’d like to be. What you’d like to be moving toward. Use what you’ve discovered about what you don’t want as clues. Then, starting from where you are now, figure out the steps you need to take to get there. Change involves a combination of inspirational vision and practical action.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Does the answer sound frightening? Too big? If it does, then you’re probably getting warm.
Are you running away from what’s no longer working, or moving toward something that’s a better fit for you? And is there really a difference?