Feeling stuck or unclear as to the direction you want to take your career is an extremely common occurrence! For a multitude of reasons, many of us have found ourselves at one time or another seeking clarity about next steps in our career and what we want to be doing long-term. Here are some helpful strategies for creating that clarity:
1. Brain Dump
Open a word document or a blank page in your journal, and start to list out all of the things that you know excite you about work - different roles, topics, team structures, industries, different responsibilities, locations - anything and everything you can think of. Then start to list out all the things that you know you need to have in a career or job - benefits, salary, team, leadership. From there, start to "brain dump" whatever feels natural, whatever you know to be true about yourself and your relationship with work. Don't censor yourself here or leave anything out.
After you've gotten out everything there is to get out, go back through and start to look for patterns. Is it clear you like to work on small teams? Big teams? Do you love finance and hate marketing? Do you need stability? Or do you want to work in a fast-paced environment? See what clues you can glean from looking for themes in your writing and use this to guide your search for jobs and opportunities.
2. Pay attention to what excites you
Spend an afternoon reading different articles and listening to different podcasts. What do you notice about the themes and topics that excite you? Are you excited and voraciously consuming information about talent development? Do your ears perk up when you hear an entrepreneur talking about his or her journey? Usually our subconscious mind knows what our hearts want. Pay attention to what brings you joy and follow that.
3. Personality Assessments
There are a number of personality assessments that can give you insight into possible careers or career paths that will make you happy. They're not always 100% accurate, but they're a great place to start.
Some personality assessments to consider: Meyers-Briggs, DiSC, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram. Once you have your results from any of these assessments, do some research online. There are a plethora of websites that talk at length about each of the results and what careers may or may not make you happy.
4. Gather feedback
Often we're so close to our own stuff it's hard to get perspective on what we actually want or don't want. Gather feedback from people in your life - parents, friends, co-workers, current bosses - about your likes and dislikes. What do they notice has you lit up and excited about life? What topics or experiences has your eyes glaze over? Consider sending an anonymous survey to these people so they can give you completely open and honest feedback.
5. Experiment, but most importantly take action!
There's nothing better for deciding on a new direction than actually trying that direction out! Think creatively about different opportunities to try out different roles, responsibilities, companies, industries. Look into volunteer opportunities with organizations around your city, ask your boss to support you in exploring different career types within the company, create a shadowing day, or setup informational interviews with professionals who are doing something you find interesting.
And, at the end of the day, the most important thing in creating more clarity in your career is taking action. You can't discover anything new about yourself if you're staying in the same place, doing the same things. So get up and get moving!
CareerBloom Contributor: Hayden Humphrey
Hayden Humphrey is a professionally trained Success Coach, Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator, out to document and elevate the human experience.
As a Success Coach, Hayden works 1:1 with individuals who feel stuck or unfulfilled in life to help them redefine success and create lives they can be excited about every single day.
Outside of his private practice, he partners with organizations and teams to help them more effectively create, collaborate, and communicate through training workshops and speaking engagements. He lives in the Chicago area and is an avid improv enthusiast.