Where Is Your Career Compass Pointing?

career mindset Mar 02, 2020

I was going to call this article “How to find your Career Direction”, but I thought that if I did you might think it is just aimed at students and young people looking for their first career step.

However, this blog is applicable whether you’re just starting out or already part (or even a long) way through your career. Whether you’re mid-career or yet to start, you might recognise that feeling of uncertainty, discomfort and perhaps some anxiety about what to do next.

You may experience it several times during your career.

Read the map, know the landscape

It's a thing that you can no longer ignore. Way back when, people used to make a career choice as they left education and for most it was a choice for their whole working life and some even stayed within the same organisation for the whole of their working life. There’s nothing wrong with that and some of my clients have been in that situation and had hugely enjoyable and varied careers within one company.

HOWEVER, the reality today is very different. If you look at the world of work map today, you see that jobs last on average 3-4 years, that most people will go through redundancy several times, and that those same people are likely to have three or four different careers in their working life.

When you understand this landscape, you realise how important it is to have the skills to navigate this world: to understand what an ideal job is for you right now (a mixture of your transferable skills/qualities and work values), to know how to network, to use all the routes to the job market, to interview well, etc. A key part of that is knowing your direction, being able to use your career compass to help you navigate that landscape.

Use your career compass

Those of you who’ve been following me a while will know that my experiences of adventure in some of the wild and wonderful places on our planet have led me to make some great analogies between expeditions and the world of your career. Just as the compass is a key piece of equipment on a mountain expedition, so your internal compass is to your career.

With a real compass on a real mountain, if you don’t know how to use it or even if you just forget to use it, you can end up seriously adrift. On a real mountain you might fall off a cliff edge. In your career you will live with the consequences, good and bad, of your career decisions.

Where is your career compass pointing?

So, do you know where your career compass is pointing? Take a look at where you are now! What you’re doing, seeing, hearing and feeling about your career. That tells you where it has been pointing.

The question is, where do you want to point it to next?

Have you thought about it, or are you just seeing where it takes you?

There is actually nothing wrong with either option, as long as it’s a choice you’ve consciously made for yourself. Sometimes we want to see how things pan out and we’re prepared to deal with whatever happens and move forward from there.

Sometimes, perhaps more often, we need to know where we are heading and be able to navigate that path.

Getting it pointing where you want

There are some key areas that you should look at to decide on your direction and make it happen.

  1. Understand what an ideal job is for you by knowing that combination of skills, qualities and values that make up your ideal role.
  2. Know the lifestyle you want (your personal goals) and then think about what needs to happen at work to support that.
  3. Know what you are passionate about and use your network to explore how your role or career can fulfil that passion.

Networking is a key skill to help with this.


  • My 9 Days to Career Success course will give you some great tools to start reading your career map and aligning your compass in the direction of career fulfilment. It’s FREE so you’ve got nothing to lose – unless of course you’re going to leave your future up to chance and other people. Get started here: 9 Days to Career Success
  • Refer to last week’s blog, 5 Steps to Start your Career Change for tips on keeping your career on track.
  • If you are at the stage where you think a career change is in order, remember to check out SortYourFuture which I mentioned last week.

As George Bernard Shaw said: “Take care to get what you like, or you’ll be forced to like what you get”.

And remember, it’s ok to have fun and enjoy your work. In fact, I think it’s something you should be actively seeking it out.

Wishing you success and enjoyment.


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