Why do I feel lost in my career?
If you’re feeling lost, disappointed, or frustrated with your career, you’re not alone. For hundreds of years, work was viewed just as a paycheck, but today’s culture values work so highly that you build a significant amount of your personal identities in your career. You used to work to live; now you often live to work.
Don’t wait for your calling; find it.
Some lucky folks appear to be born knowing their calling. But contrary to what you were taught, knowing your purpose is not an innate trait you either have or you don’t. If you’re not sure what your calling is, you may assume it will hit you like a lightning bolt from the blue, or not at all. That’s what the culture tells you.
But these are myths. They perpetuate the idea that finding your true calling is a passive process out of your control. You think that if you just follow your feelings, you’ll find a path and make the right choice. You are taught that this is the way it works so when you see others around you fulfilled at work, you think you are missing something. You berate yourself for not measuring up, for being behind.
Being stuck is a cultural condition. Getting unstuck is a personal journey.
Career crises are really common in the modern world. A career crisis stems from a disconnect between what you’re doing and what you want to do. But knowing what you don’t want isn’t the same as knowing what you want. You may know that what you’re doing feels wrong and yet not know what steps to take.
Or if you do know, sometimes parental influence and or the expectations of others can keep us from pursuing what we really want.
You struggle to free yourself from a career crisis because you’re busy and afraid. Sunk costs can make a move or change feel impossible, slow, humiliating.
You look at others to see what success looks like, but when you fall into the comparison trap, you only see a person’s highlight reel instead of the struggles it took to get to the top. You can’t benchmark your success against others because all the variables are different.
No one else can define what success means to you other than yourself. But how do you do that?
How can I get clear and make a change?
In order to articulate your preferences, you need patience, structure, and persistent intent in your thinking to uncover the root.
First, you need to define what you are really looking for. You need to take the time to check in with your gut, interrogate these preferences, and figure out both what you want and what fears are stopping you.
You need to investigate your fears and see how much truth there is to them. You need to create systems rather than goals so you can build habits and circumvent your own sloth.
You need to carve out time for this process and find people who can hold you accountable when you get tired. You also need someone to call you out when you get distracted to help you stay focused.
By doing this, you build confidence in yourself and you free yourself up to explore previously unconsidered possibilities.
You free yourself up to find work that is an expression of who you are rather than something that defines who you are. It’s also important to get a clearer picture of your identity outside of work so you can bring more of that into your work. By finding your value outside of your job, you’ll find more value in the workday itself.
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