I never was that clear on what I wanted to do growing up. I studied economics, but it wasn't until I found startups that I really started honing in on what I wanted.
Actually, it wasn't until I actually ran a startup that I figured out the career path I'm on today.
On my second or third path today, it's felt more like shedding, rather than an arrow to a target. But it feels much more settled into what feels like "home" for me.
Other than the Doctors, Lawyers, and those people who knew what they wanted to do their whole lives... and so most people will have to face changing careers at least once.
Maybe you feel like your career "just happened" to you.
And so, despite getting farther down this path, either via promotion or having more responsibility, things are getting less exciting, not more.
The problem is that if you don't want to get to the place that you're career is heading for...Success will be just another step on a path you don't ultimately want to go down.
What I've learned, instead, is that small, incremental steps, even failure, down a path you truly want to go down, feel better than larger levels of success on a path you don't.
And I get it, there is a lot of fears that emerge at a career transition point:
- What if you jump and end up someplace worse?
- What if I disappoint the people who got you here?
- What if I get rejected?
- Will I be able to handle the unknown?
On the other side of this transition though is the dream that maybe someday, you'll be in a place where you are excited about the steps you are taking again.
You know you have agency. It's hard to bear not using it.
You can get what you want, all of it.
Just not all at once, and not yet.
Most people don't even know the path they want to be on.
And here lies the trouble.
It's in this place that, despite your desire to change, it's hard to find the time.
And, despite the lack of enthusiasm for your work, you find it beats jumping into the unknown without any sense of clear direction.
You don't want to just leap and drown. Why would you?
If this is you, the good news is you can do something about this. It might not take you all the way to where you want to be immediately.
What to do next?
What's missing is excitement and energy for work, and this may or may not be related to the path you're on.
You can start by find the connection to what genuinely excites you again.
Excitement is the antidote to burnout. Without the current of excitement to ground you on your path, you risk checking out and drifting.
Excitement and agency go hand in hand.
The question to ask yourself is,
"What do I have energy for?"
The answer to this question is what your compass is pointing you towards. It's the work that gives you the energy that is sustainable and fulfilling.
Ultimately I think this is what people are really looking for: Sustainable work, that is energizing and fulfilling.
The Best Place to Start? Take Some Space.
You don't need to rush this process. Start by identifying those things that really make you light up again. You can ask and answer these questions:
1. What about your current role does excite you?
2. What about your current role bores you?
3. What work moments excited you most in the past?
Once you've started to find where your excitement compass is pointing, you start to get some themes. These are the areas you are great at, that you enjoy.
Start by seeing how you can get more of that, today.
How can you begin to take steps towards having more of that in your life? Is there a project at your current work that looks more like this? Is there a background project you can start that gives you more of this today?
By tapping back into what gets you excited, you actually start to feel that energy come back. Once you start to feel that connection again, you are establishing a path for yourself to have more of that.
You start to orient and position yourself for opportunities that allow for more of that type of work. You start to use your agency to develop new opportunities, rather than just accepting them.
Career transitions happen step by step. Jumping into the unknown, out the escape hatch is one way to do it. However, this is hard-mode, where you are fully in the unknown without a parachute.
By taking some steps today, taking the space to start to get a feel for where your energy is at, you begin to develop the raw materials for a future career that will emerge over time.
It might not be all at once, but it will be more sustainable.
Good luck, and as always, let me know if I can help,
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