A reader asks, "I'm feeling 'stuck' in my job, and would like to see what other options may be out there. Where do I start?"
My response: First of all, I want to acknowledge the fact that you are proactively exploring your options in finding a meaningful career. It takes courage, but finding employment that feels fulfilling and challenging will be well worth going out of your comfort zone.
Here are three tips to help you gain clarity on where you go from here:
1. Do Some Self-Assessment
If you haven't already, do some self-assessment and introspection.
How long has it been since you really took the time to ask yourself some important questions about what you want to do for work? If you're like most people, it has probably been quite awhile. Getting reconnected with yourself and your goals is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself - it's the gift of introspection.
Ask yourself questions, like:
- What have been the patterns or career themes in my working life so far?
- When and why have I been most successful?
- What is the environment I most enjoy working in?
- What are things I need my work to include?
- What are my key skills? Where in the marketplace are those skills needed?
As you ask yourself these questions, really take the time to listen to your responses, from your head and your heart. I recommend writing them down, as putting pen to paper gives you an opportunity to review your responses, and it helps set the intention for this change.
2. Do Your Research
Once you have an idea of the kind(s) of work you may be interested in, roll up your sleeves and do some research. Arranging informational interviews with people currently doing the kind of work you'd like to do or working at a company you are interested in is a great way to get the inside scoop. Ask them what they love about their work, what the challenges are, and where the opportunities lie. Take notes, and be sure to thank them for their time with a thank you note afterwards. There are also online resources available that can provide information on typical tasks and skills needed for a particular job, as well as job growth and trends. O*Net, a website run by the Department of Labor, offers a wealth of information.
3. Get Connected
Think about how you have gotten your past jobs. Most likely, your personal and professional connections played a part in your getting some or all of your previous positions. Reach out to friends, family, parents from your kids' schools, and fellow community members. Let people know what kind of work you are looking for. Talk with former supervisors, colleagues, business partners, vendors, and clients. Share with them what your goals are and ask if they have any advice for you.
Feeling "stuck" in your job is not a great feeling, but I believe that feeling can be a gift - one that can push you to stop and reflect on what you really want. If you devote time to figuring out what's next for you and do the legwork to uncover opportunities, I'll bet you'll be "un-stuck" sooner than you think.
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