Yesterday, I blogged about the Career Rut. Today, I’d like to continue with some thoughts on escaping it’s hold on you and moving forward successfully.
The big challenge for many is once having come to the decision that they want something different than what they are currently doing, the immense challenge becomes WHAT to do. The only thing that’s become clear is what is no longer wanted.
This is a period of flux, of uncertainty and should be both anticipated and embraced. After all, you’re stepping away from what you’ve done in the recent past (or perhaps present) and you’ve been using skills you’ve mastered and understand to do the work you no longer love. As your energy has previously been poured into that work, it may have drained your energy reserves sufficiently that of consequence, you’ve not been able to look with enthusiasm at what might come next.
When we were children and in our emerging teen years, if we were fortunate, we had parents and role models who encouraged us to do different things. They exposed us to arts and crafts, sports, reading, music and took us places to see interesting things. Simultaneously, they stoked our imaginations with the idea that we might be anything we put our minds to; the world was ours to explore.
How ironic it is that now as adults with expanded skills and experiences behind us, that we feel diminished in our choices; conventional thoughts limit our options, and we tell ourselves, “I can’t do that!” Those same role models of our past now worry that we’re going to make some regrettable decision to quit our stable employment for the uncertainty of something new.
What you know however, is the mental anguish, strain and stress of your current unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. To save yourself from growing increasingly bitter and despondent, change must happen. And I say, good for you! Save yourself!
If you know what you want to do then by all means get going! If the career you have in mind requires additional education and retraining, go for it and consider your time preparing for this new role as an investment in yourself. Well done.
If however, you’re feeling just as stuck, now wondering what it is you should do, there are things you can also do to move forward. One key thing is to assess not just what skills you have, but determine what skills you have THAT YOU WISH TO USE NEXT. These are highly probable to be transferable skills; ones you can apply to various occupations and jobs such as organization, punctuality, communication and interpersonal skills. You may have job specific skills you decide to either leave behind or take with you too. These are the skills you acquired and developed in your past role such as a software program, driving a specialized vehicle or teaching a specific subject. Complete an inventory now of the skills you have and emphasize the ones you want to use moving forward.
Now it truly depends on your mental state as to your next step. You might be very well served in looking for a short-term job rather than a career, that stimulates your need for something new. One that you can handle well and be successful at to reinforce your self-worth, yet one that you can walk away from when your longer term career objective reveals itself. Purely as an example, suppose you look to drive a school bus. There you would use communication skills, punctuality, organization and certainly interpersonal skills; the very transferable skills you earlier identified you want to use moving forward.
The thing is to look at a variety of jobs and envisioning yourself in those roles, determine what might be appealing. Driving your bus would distance you from the overseeing, micromanaging boss you want to avoid. It might give you that independence to work, yet still come with responsibility and perhaps the gratitude from riders and their parents would fill a void you only dreamed of in past roles where you were unappreciated.
Breaking free of the rut you’re now in is exhilarating, uplifting and liberating. You’re free!
Next up, you may decide that your short-term job turns out to be just the answer you wanted. Equally possible, you may decide that with your mental crisis of being in a rut over, you can now see with greater clarity what you might truly like to move to next. Had you stayed in your previous role, that clarity would never have come about.
The right time to leap forward and find new employment shouldn’t be determined by the market, when your mortgage or car is paid off or after the kids are all in University. The right time is when your inner voice that you’ve been listening to for some time finally gets through and tells you this is the right time.
Career Counsellors and Mental Health Counsellors are options you might want to have conversations with. Share what’s on your mind with people you trust because you might find that sharing illuminates possibilities.