If you’re having a career crisis in which you know you don’t want to keep doing what you’re doing but you have no idea what you do want to do, the key is not to panic. The truth is, you probably haven’t worked out exactly who you are and what makes you tick. But that’s okay, you’ll get there. These ideas will help you keep calm and find the right career for you.
In an ideal world, we would all quit the job we no longer want in an amicable fashion, with our next perfect job lined up. But that’s not always how it goes. Sometimes your life crumbles around you. Sometimes you get fired. When your life has ground to a halt because you simply can’t stand your job anymore, that’s your brain’s way of telling you to stop and pay attention to your needs. Now is not the time to start frantically sending out resumes to every job you’re qualified for. Now is the time to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Whether that means booking into a men’s rehab program, or taking some time out from your relationship, the important thing is to give yourself the time and space to hear yourself think. Once you’ve had a chance to slow down and listen to what your mind and body are trying to say, you’ll be in a better position to start looking at new options.
Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
When you’re feeling unsure about who you are in this life, it can be difficult to go out there and meet new people. This will hold you back not only socially, but professionally, once you start interviewing for new jobs. Building your confidence in social situations is key, but it’s important not to rely on a false image of yourself that is not based on who you really are. That’s what made you end up in the wrong job in the first place!
So instead of feeling ashamed that you don’t have a solid sense of who you are at this point in your life, try to embrace the fact that you’re at a crossroads. Own this phase of your life by showing this openly to people you meet. There is nothing weak or shameful about being engaged in a process of self-discovery. On the contrary, people will respect you for the bravery and clear-sightedness it takes to acknowledge this about yourself and be open about it.
One of the most reliable ways to find out more about yourself is to head out into the world and get lost. Removing yourself from your normal context is a brilliant way to try on several new identities for size. Why? Because you won’t have to get over the difficulty of presenting your new-found self to the people who know you from your day-to-day existence. When nobody in your new environment even knows who you are, you may as well be you.
Whether you decide to go hiking the Italian coast or going on a rafting adventure, leaving town and meeting friendly strangers is a wonderful—and fun—way to work out who you really are. Travel will not only explode your sense of the boundaries of your life, but the much-needed break in routine may open up your sense of what could be possible for you. Why is it that you are living the life you’re in? What choices have brought you here? There’s nothing like travelling to exotic and unknown parts for showing you that a less conventional life could be yours if you want it.
Do What You Love
When you don’t have a clue who you are anymore, deciding how to spend your time in a profitable and satisfying way is not easy. Try starting small: consider the little things that you have done in your life that made you feel good, and do that. Love the beach? Head out to the coast next weekend. Enjoy having a good old sweat? Sign up for a gym membership or join a running club. Once you’ve rediscovered with the seemingly-insignificant things that you really enjoy in your life, you’ll find it easier to start considering more serious things, like what types of work will make you happy.
Enter a Flow State
If you’re needing guidance on your career, try to cast your mind back to the last time you were completely engrossed in the activity you were busy with. Reconnecting with a flow state is a fantastic first step towards understanding what motivates you. And if you work out that the thing you most enjoy doing is something you used to do but have since stopped your involvement in, don’t be hard on yourself. Losing touch with what makes you happy is a natural consequence of being bogged down by responsibility. Maybe it’s time to try those things again!
Accept That a Big Change May Be Nescessary
Most of us are first presented with the question of what you should “be” at a very young age, usually when high school is coming to an end. But the truth is that very few young people have the tools at that early stage in their lives to make such a profound choice with such far-reaching consequences. Who can really say “who they are” at the ripe old age of sixteen? Hardly anyone.
If you’ve spent time in a career that you have either grown out of or never suited you in the first place, don’t get stuck in the thought pattern that you have already fallen behind, and so can’t change track now. Many people who can find the courage it takes to make a major career change in their thirties or forties report greater satisfaction with their work than ever before. Some folks in their fifties even change careers and never look back!
If you’re struggling with the question of who you are and what exactly you were put on this earth for, these ideas will help you start rediscovering what matters to you and take the first steps towards something new.
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Word to the wise…just because you find yourself in a career that doesn’t check all the boxes or a full blown “career crisis” doesn’t mean you don’t know who you are. In fact, you probably know exactly what makes you tick, after all, you are self aware enough to know that you aren’t in the right place.