What to do when you don't know what to do


From time to time we get in a situation with our careers where we just don't know what to do.

I often see it when I work with people who are recently out of university or have reached a point where they are just fed up with what they are doing right now.

There are many things that we put in our own way that stop us making progress in this situation. 

It's not forever

One of the biggest pressures people put on themselves is that whatever decision they make  is for the rest of their life. 

I remember working with a student at a London University who was highly distressed because she'd been told she had to choose a career from one of the five things she liked and forget the rest.

I've seen people midway through their career experiencing similar conundrums. 

You are not making a decision for "for the rest of your life"

You are making a decision about what your first or next career step will be. It may be you decide to follow that path for the rest of your life, or it may be that at some point you drop into Base Camp, reassess, and choose a different path to follow. 

When I explained this to the student, I could visibly see the stress disappear from her body. Her posture changed, her face lit up an her voice was full of relief.

It was wonderful to see.

Four positive actions

If you don't do something, you are choosing to stay stuck. Nothing is going to change unless you take actions: 

Action 1: Work out what all of your transferable skills are: check out "Remind yourself of the skills you already have" in last week's blog.

Action 2: Write a list of what's important to you about work and prioritise it: what is essential, what is "nice to have" and what do you want to avoid.

Action 3: Generate a list of things you enjoy or that interest you: include job titles, industries, environments, organisations. If it's a long list, whittle it down to your top three or four so you have a manageable number to start researching. 

Action 4: Research using online resources and your network (that second bit is really important) to explore how the skills you want to use and things that are important to you will be met by each option.

And then?

Then you can start to create your CV, apply for roles using your network and recruiters and start interviewing for roles that really interest you. 

If you don't know how, invest in professional help: that's me or someone like me.

Don't leave it to an amateur who claims to know what they are doing, find a professional that does. Search the official UK Register of Career Development Professionals.

Contact me to find out more

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