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Where next? Beyond the top of the corporate ladder

5 steps to get unstuck and create a career & life in alignment with who you are

Photo Credit: Denys Nevozhai via Unsplash

This is the time when many of us are coming back from holiday. Often with a real wish to make a big change in our working lives.

Maybe that’s the case for you, too?

We spend so much of our time working hard to advance our careers but what if you’re feeling miserable at work despite all of the success you’ve achieved and can’t stop wondering “What’s wrong with me? Shouldn’t I be happier / more grateful / more fulfilled…?”.

Or, maybe you realised that this is no longer what you want to do for the rest of your life but have no clue what’s next and feel paralyzed because of it.

You are not alone. According to a report by the Conference Board 52.3% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs, and a similar figure has been reported by the CIPD in the UK with more than 1 in 4 actively looking for a change.

Finding yourself stuck in your job can be very frustrating, disheartening and energy draining. And, focusing on outward things isn’t making you happy in the long-run either. 

And, the assumption that we have to choose a single career path and stick with it from the time we leave university until retirement or that you can’t have a career and life you love are simply untrue. 

We are constantly evolving, what mattered most to you when you were 21 won’t be what matters most to you in your 30s or later in life. 

So what gives us meaning and fulfillment is constantly changing, too. Which is why we’ll eventually find asking ourselves: “what’s next?”. 

Through my own journey of leaving my “safe” corporate job behind, changing careers and creating success on my terms, here’s what you can do to get unstuck:

And, focusing on outward things isn’t making you happy in the long-run either.

Identify the problem

The good news is that your feelings of unhappiness and unfulfillment are actually a blessing in disguise. It’s a signal that you’re learning more about yourself and getting clear on what you want and don’t want out of your life and work. 

Once I had realized why I felt so unfulfilled and unhappy in my investment banking career, despite the money and the senior exec position I held, I knew it was time to figure out what was really important to have in my life and work before deciding on my next move.

Start by making a list of what is and isn’t working in your life and work. This is the first step to finding clarity about where you want to go.

Get clear on what gives you purpose

Contrary to popular advice “follow your passion and everything will fall into place”, research shows that those who “follow their passions” statistically have a lower probability of finding long-term career fulfillment.

Instead get clear on what gives you purpose and meaning – your “WHY”, your values, your motivation and deepest desires – which is the true driving force behind your life, what will propel your career forward, and for finding long-term fulfillment and happiness.

It will also give you the clarity on what you want to create, be able to make empowered choices and decisions about your life and career that will help you lead your life in alignment to create sustainable success.

Taking the time to get “reacquainted” with myself and what my WHY’s were gave me much needed clarity and was one of the key turning points on my journey towards doing work that I love and that gives me meaning, while at the same time it allows me to lead the life I craved. 

So make sure you know your “WHY” before you start running toward a new job opportunity or start your own business – it will make the process much more connected and aligned that makes anything possible. It’s all about staying true to who you are, what you stand for and remaining connected to your desires. 

Not only will you lead an inspired and empowered life by aligning to your purpose but also inspire others to do the same.

Create a vision for your WHOLE life

Once you know your purpose and what you want and don’t want in your life and career going forward, it’s time to create a compelling vision for your whole life.

Most people who are unhappy with their careers that want a change often want to go straight ahead and start looking for new opportunities. But starting with the strategy should be the last step on your path, not your first.

The first question you should ask yourself is what you envision for your whole life in a detailed way that captures what you want out of your life and career and how you want to feel, so you experience what if feels like to have a holistic view point of how you want all the elements of your life to work together.

Once you have a clear vision, you will attract the right strategy and goals to create the life and career you want. 

This was also true for me. By the time I knew my WHY’s and had a clear and detailed vision of how I wanted to live my life and the impact I wanted to make with my work, working out the steps to get me there was crystal clear. 

So take that time to creating a vision that is in sync with your heart’s desires, makes you feel both excited and shows you where you are headed. Having an inspiring vision will empower and motivate you to take strategic action to reach your goals.

Stop doubting yourself

Become aware of how capable you are of achieving your ambitions and don’t fall into the trap of letting your fears and beliefs limit your thinking of what’s possible. 

When I was first thinking about the possibility of a career change, I had all sorts of fears come up around throwing my career away that I worked so hard for and what else can I even do. But what helped me work through those fears was becoming more conscious of all my strengths and talents and the fact that I had lots of transferable skills and valuable experience that I could leverage.

Start by becoming more aware of your unique skills, strengths and talents, and what you have to offer so you can move forward in an empowered way. Otherwise, you’ll keep coming up with excuses for why you have to stay in your job.

Take action

The final step towards bringing your vision to life is to stop dreaming about your ideal life and career and start taking consistent action.

The most successful people in the world are leading their desired life because they create it. They visualize it, write it down, set goals, commit, and take action. 

On my own journey, there were plenty of times where my fears and beliefs almost got the better of me, but having a vision of the life I wanted to lead that inspired me kept me taking action anyway – even if it was just reconnecting to it and remembering why I’m doing all this.

It’s all about learning (and adjusting when necessary), taking action and responsibility towards your vision and goals. If you don’t love what you are seeing in your career and life, own it and change it. And, remember: strive for progress, not perfection.

It’s only normal that when you find yourself digging deep into what it is you really want that self-doubt and fears will come up but by taking action nevertheless, you’ll not only be able to progress towards creating your desired life but you’ll also grow tremendously as a person. 

So don’t wait for someone else to give you permission to pursue your dreams, vision, and goals. The only one who needs to give yourself permission to go after what you truly want is yourself, don’t waste your life feeling miserable and stuck in a job. 

Wanting to change careers is not a failure, it’s about making a deeply personal and empowering choice that realigns you with who you are and what you want, and taking ownership of your whole life and the impact you want to make – this is true leadership.

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