For many of us, we arrived where we are today by choosing from the options that were presented to us.
Perhaps you graduated from college, received a few job offers and chose the one that seemed most likely to fit your aspirations. Depending on the company, the typical progression is either up within your function, or across to other areas where your skills will be valuable or where the experience is essential to advancing your career. As long as you perform well, such options continue to be presented to you and that cycle continues. Eventually, you might find yourself in middle or upper management.
There’s nothing inherently bad or wrong with this path – particularly if you’ve chosen well and have been offered appealing options. If you love what you do and where you work, you probably feel like you hit the jackpot!
I often work with people, though, who face an inflection point in their careers and realize they’re craving something more or something different. Questions quietly begin to gnaw at the edges of their consciousness:
Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?
Am I making a meaningful difference with my life and my work?
What happened to the vision I had of being a … or working with … ?
Is this really what I want for myself right now?
We all have something valuable to contribute – be that in our communities, at work, to a cause or within our family. You might know, in your heart, that there’s an intention or purpose within you that needs to be explored. Maybe dynamics at work have changed, leaving you wondering if this is a good time to consider your options. Or it might be that the track you’re currently on conflicts with how you want your life to look because of other commitments related to family or elder care, well-being or personal goals.
And yet, it’s oh-so-easy to play it safe and stick with what’s in front of us.
I recently caught up with a past colleague, Colleen, who faced such a crossroad. Colleen was a company’s dream employee: An experienced and effective leader with a track record of delivering fantastic results, and with people skills to match. Yet, even with financial rewards and the promise of promotional opportunities, she noticed a void growing within her and felt increasingly dissatisfied with the notion of continuing up the ladder into executive leadership.
With a shadow of a plan and a willingness to take some risk, Colleen resigned to take time off and explore her options. This wasn’t a vacation. It was a process of resurrecting her interests, passions and dreams from decades earlier that had gotten lost as the rest of her life and career took shape. Through volunteering, making connections outside her usual network, and extensively researching news, trends and events related to her interests, she has defined the path she wants to take and is creating a future more aligned with what she now knows is her purpose.
Not everyone is in a position to leave their jobs and explore as Colleen did. Not everyone feels a calling towards something specific.
Our coaches at McLysaght Consulting regularly support clients in this discovery and action planning process. The end results can range from sweeping change, to a staged approach over a long-term period, to re-setting priorities within today’s routine in order to create space for something new.
If you’re feeling unsettled with your current state or what your future seems to hold, you owe it to yourself to invest some energy and attention into identifying all of the paths that lie before you – not just the obvious ones.
If this sounds familiar, let’s connect for a brief consultation to determine if working with a coach would support your goals. We look forward to hearing from you!