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The Mid Career Pivot: Where to Start When You Don’t Know What You Want to Do

3 August, 2022

“What do I do when I don’t know if I like what I’m doing anymore?” 

“Am I at the right company?”

“Am I in the right career, or should I change direction?” 

“But if I don’t pursue this career path anymore, what on earth would I do?” 

Let’s be honest: At one point or another, we’ve almost all asked ourselves these questions. 

We’ve felt stuck, lost, unsure ,unmotivated, or unfulfilled with our careers. So, what do you do when this happens? Where do you start when you don’t know what you want to do anymore? Is a mid-career pivot possible? 

That’s what we discuss in today’s blog and podcast episode, so be sure to read on or listen in where you like to listen to your podcasts!

Before we start working out what our next career move is, I think there are a few other questions we need to get clear on first. 

Step Back and Ask Yourself these Questions as A Starting Point

Often when people come to me for career coaching, they come with the feeling, “I feel stuck, I feel lost, I feel unfulfilled”. And my first question to them is usually: “If you were feeling unstuck and if you were feeling motivated again, what might that look like?”. 

Cue the crickets. 

It can be really difficult to define what great looks like when we’ve found ourselves stuck below the line and in that negative way of thinking for too long. We are really clear on the fact that we are unhappy, but we aren’t sure what it could be like if we weren’t this way.  We’ve not given ourselves permission to reflect on what great could look like. This is the first thing I encourage clients to start to think about. 

In parallel with this, it is also really important to get clear on whether our current frustrations are with the job or the career. 

Make a List

Sit down with a piece of paper and put a line down the middle. The column on the left is for the things you enjoy about your current role. The column on the right - the things you don’t. Ask yourself - What are the things about your current role and job that you enjoy? What are the things that currently frustrate you or make you feel unmotivated or unfulfilled? When you’re having a great day, what were the things you were doing? And when you’ve had a day that you’d just rather forget, what were the kinds of things that caused you to feel this way about it? 

Then, I want you to look at your list and analyse each item. Are the things you enjoy related to the job? And similarly, are the things that frustrate you related to the job. For example, if you’re seeing things on your “don’t enjoy” list, such as “I don’t like the culture,” “I’m frustrated by the bureaucracy in play,” or “I don’t like my manager” – these are factors that are related to the current job and organisation itself rather than the actual career pathway that you’re on. So, in this case, you might actually just need to look for similar job roles, but just in different organisations more aligned with your values.

If, however your frustrations are more related to the projects you are working on, the day to day tasks you have to engage in not lighting you up anymore, but perhaps you actually love your team and workplace - then maybe this is an indicator that the issue may be with the career pathway, not just the current job/workplace.

A lot of people end up in the careers they are in because it is what they got a degree for, what they are good at, or what they can make money from. But it is important we also ask ourselves: “Can I see myself doing this for years to come?”, “Do I have a genuine passion for this?”, and “Do I actually enjoy this work, or feel like I am making an impact?” If this is the case, you might have to step back even further and really get clear and intentional again on what actually brings you joy. What are the tasks you enjoy doing? What are you good at? These questions may help you define your next career calling.

Starting the Mid-Career Pivot journey can be scary. But here are four pieces of advice to help you keep moving yourself forward: 

Get Curious

Get curious about yourself. What are the things people ask you for help with? What do people come to you for advice for? And do you enjoy that they come to you for those things, or do you find it burdensome? What are the kinds of things you enjoy doing with your time outside of work? What makes you laugh?  GET CURIOUS about yourself. 

Loosen the Grip

We are often so terrified about taking that next career step because we have fixated so much on it having to be absolutely perfect that we are actually not prepared to let go (even though we think we are). We say to ourselves that unless we can guarantee that this next step is without risk and nothing could ever go wrong then we aren't prepared to take it. We need to loosen the grip on perfection, or we will never move forward. 

Don’t fall into Paralysis by Analysis

Don’t just make and analyse your list – actually act on them. Yes, there’s a place for research, reflection, and introspective thinking but don’t get so caught up in just that, that you don’t actually take any action. Otherwise, you’re going to live in a constant state of “once I’ve finished all my research, I’m going to do this” – and while you’re in that mentality, you’re going to continue feeling stuck and unfulfilled.

Connect with People

Connect with people, not just job boards. Get out there and talk to people! Ask them questions about their roles, about their passions, about their dreams, about the skills that they use in their day to day, and what lights them up. When you talk to people and connect with people about their job roles, you’d be amazed at what you find.

The Bottom Line

Don’t be a passenger in your own life. If you want to get back into the driver’s seat of your career, start with asking yourself what is important to you  – then ask yourself where you can go from there. 

If you’re ready to take action on your career, reach out and see how I have already supported hundreds of women (and men!) find career and leadership positions that they love! Let’s chat. 
Listen to the full podcast where I dive deeper into this topic.

Much Love,
Keen advocate for helping you get out of your own way!

Author
Claire Seeber is a self-proclaimed travel addict, mini-sausage dog mumma, avid blogger, a lover of a good glass of pinot noir and believes a solid belly laugh should be part of your every day.

She is also a professional coach, speaker and People and Culture consultant. Claire started her business in 2018 whilst working full time as General Manager of HR for a large retail business. What she loves the most about the work she does is being able to work with passionate, motivated and courageous people who genuinely want to reach their full potential and are ready to put the hard yards in to get there.

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