It happens. You’ve been so busy doing your job you haven’t had time to stop and ask yourself if this is really the career path you want to be on. Then one day – often whilst on holiday, or when something major happens in our lives – you finally do stop and not only are you unhappy with the path you’re on, you’ve no idea what direction to take.
You won’t be the first and you won’t be the last. It’s normal, and if anything you’re fortunate that you’re having this moment now – rather than when it really is too late.
So what to do? Time to take stock, starting with a good look at what got you here, a personal inventory. Then you might want to do some essential groundwork to make sure the path you take next really is the right one for you. Here are 6 steps and a total of 10 resources to help you do just that.
- Start with some common-sense tools. National Career Service is a great place to start doing some groundwork on your career plan with online tools to help you identify your strengths and what you want from your job. The ‘changing or choosing your career’ page also has online tools and downloadable guides.
- Read up. Get hold of John Lees’ book, ‘How to get a job you love’. This tops my list of books that help plot your career path. It’s clear, very thorough and practical – well worth working through. There are heaps of exercises to help you assess how you got to here and what alternatives may work for you in the future.
- Get clear on your values. When I hear people describing their disenchantment with their present job, it’s often the case that their values are in some way being disregarded or disrespected (whether by themselves or others). Our values are no small matter; they can be a really Big Deal, so it’s essential to reconnect with them and Mind Tools have a great step-by-step exercise to help you do just that.
- Identify your strengths. My favourite free or low-cost tools for clarifying your strengths (and weaknesses) are: The VIA survey, which has a free version and low-cost more in-depth versions. Or you may prefer R2 Strengths Profiler, a UK-based tool with 3 different versions available with different price tags. Shameless plug: you can also contact me for a Strengthscope® assessment. Doing this will help you take stock and look back at how you’ve been using (or neglecting) your strengths, the better to make the most of them in future.
- Complete some skills tests and assessments. The Psychometric Institute has free tests and assessments that can help you clarify your skills and capabilities. You can also test your skills via BBC Skillswise, though the tests may seem a little basic for some. Workplace examples can be found on CEB’s career planner and their practice tests.
- Work with a career coach. This is a specialist discipline within professional coaching, so ensure you check the coach’s credentials and membership of a professional association such as The Association for Coaching, European Mentoring & Coaching Council or International Coach Federation. Any decent coach should offer to have an initial, no-obligation phone chat with you. Don’t be afraid to ask them specific questions about how they work, how they can (and can’t) help, and how much they charge. I recommend clarifying how much work they expect you to do between sessions, as that’s often the case when you work with a coach – it’s you doing the work, with the coach supporting your efforts and encouraging you to stay on track.
Take the time to explore and work through these resources and the path ahead should start to look clearer and much more appealing.
You may also find this blog post useful: Is it really time for you to find another job?
Dawn is the author of ‘How to be Zoomly at work’, available now on Amazon and ‘The Feedback Book’, due out in September.