When your career has been turned upside down, it’s difficult to figure out what to do next.
At this point in a career, the biggest mistake I have seen people make (and I’ve made myself) is to move too quickly.
During my early career, one of my bosses decided that a single mother whose child contracted chicken pox was too big a burden for his business. He didn’t fire me, but he made life difficult enough that I decided to look for another job.
I applied, interviewed for, and landed the first job I found that I wanted. Or at least I thought I wanted it.
The hiring committee made a big deal out of how much they’d love it if I’d redesign all of their marketing material. I was enthralled because my salary would just about double, and I’d still get to write and design for a living.
The thing they didn’t mention – maybe they figured I would just know – is that it was a sales position, not a marketing position.
I hadn’t done my homework, or at least not enough to know what I was getting into. I let my desperation and wish for a better salary get in the way of due diligence. I lasted only 18 months in the job and hated every minute I was selling or avoiding selling.
Lesson No. 1: Know what you want.
I was still young enough and starry-eyed enough that I figured I could do anything. In my advanced years, I now know that I probably can, but I choose not to. Sales never has been and never will be my favorite thing. It’s not even in the top 10. Had I known more about the position, I would have chosen not to apply.
Lesson No. 2: If you don’t know what you want, find out.
I knew it was important for me to write. That is what I had been educated to do, and it was the one pursuit I loved more than any other. The problem was, except for the job I already had, I didn’t have a very good idea what else a job that included writing might look like.
If you also don’t know another job you want, ask yourself what you would do if money weren’t in the picture. If you could do anything you wanted to, just because you wanted to, what would that be? You don’t have to make a living. You don’t have to argue with your dad about whether it’s an honorable profession. You don’t have to justify the change to your husband. Just because you want to. What would it be?
Next, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and picture yourself having a perfect day, THE perfect day. Who are you with? What are you doing? Where are you? What is it that you’re enjoying so much?
If moving on is still a stretch for you, you might benefit from career coaching. I provide a program called Career Exploration that helps you decide what you want to do next. Every single person who has finished the program has made a decision and moved on in that direction.