“I got laid-off in December and just want to find more purpose in life.”
“I’m looking to understand where my strengths lie, because I’m feeling unfulfilled.”
“I don’t want to take the wrong next step.”
“Corporate culture has shifted and I’m struggling to keep up.”
“I’m ready to make the next jump, but don’t know how, or where to start.”
These are the emails in my inbox, week after week, from guys just like you. They’re holding it together on the outside, hoping no one notices they’re starting to fray at the seams. What they aren’t saying, yet, is that they’re overwhelmed, scared, and at times hopeless, feeling stuck with no one to turn to, their friends are their peers, their parents don’t understand this new terrain, and their partner can’t relate to the pressure on their shoulders, and so they hold it in.
If you’re experiencing a career transition and struggling to gain clarity, find purpose, or know where you want to go, you’re not alone. You’re going to be ok. We’re always in transition and everything is always changing. We often don’t have a clear vision of what it is that we are transitioning to, or how to get there, and indeed, we can often feel stuck due to fear of the unknown. If you’re in between jobs, stepping into a new, larger position, or seeking more fulfilling work, career transitions are anxiety producing, try these three steps to have more confidence, ease and resilience during the process.
Embrace The Power Of Now
As soon as we turn to memories of the past, or projections about the future, we divide our attention between the object of our focus and the moment we’re experiencing. Often we aren’t even aware this is happening. But as long as our energy is being split, there will always be a sense of conflict, or stress in the mind. The more we can be aware of this shift of focus and sense of struggle, the more we can actively choose to be present.
So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and easily distracted, try this centering exercise:
- Slow down and notice the feelings in your body.
- Take 5 deep breaths, try exhaling longer than you inhale, if you can.
- As you do so, feel your mind begin to center and calm itself.
- Check in with your body again. Are you still holding tension? If so, repeat steps 1-3 until your body has relaxed and released the stress. Typically, you’re back to your best self in 90-seconds tops.
Recognizing this moment is all there is, the more we can choose to be present. The more we can consciously be in the here and now, where we have control, rather than stuck in the past, or the uncertain future where a lot of “what if’s” exist.
When we’re connected in the moment, we lose sense of time and are able to achieve greater results with less effort. Our energy is high and our focus clear. Research confirms that there’s a direct correlation between leaders’ mindfulness and the well-being and performance of their employees. In other words, the more present a leader is with his team members, the better they will perform.
Reconnect With Your Purpose And Values
When fears, worries, and concerns are overly abundant, we tend to focus on making sure bad things don’t happen, and we can miss opportunities to create and bring forth more of what we’d like to see.
Tuning into your intuition about who you are and what you really desire is essential to creating an energizing and fulfilling life, where you’re authentically expressing who you are and engaging with more purpose and meaning at work and home. If you’d like to achieve what you truly want in life and perform at your best, while being less fearful of people’s opinions, begin by cultivating your self-awareness and developing a stronger and deeper sense of who you are, what you care about, and why you do the things you do.
Start by asking yourself:
What are my values? What do I believe to be true about the world? What kind of man am I? What kind of leader am I? What would I do on a Saturday morning, if my schedule was clear? What kind of relationship do I want to have with my work?
The answers to these questions will serve as a compass, guiding your actions, thoughts and decisions whether at the office, or at home. Rather than becoming consumed by fear and worry, turn inward and reconnect with purpose, consciously choose who you want to be as a leader, and let this help navigate the path forward.
This practice won’t eliminate uncertainty and fear entirely, but it will help you discover clarity and thoughtful responses to the challenges and choices you face as you, engage purposefully.
Craft Intentional Goals
Intentional living sounds a bit touchy-feely, but at it’s core, it’s about knowing ourselves, and being connected to our inner truth. Easier said than done. It requires radical self-inquiry and honesty, setting boundaries, and strategically spending our time and energy on things that matter most to us, rather than the things screaming the loudest. It’s the conscious effort we make to align our lifestyles with our ideal values, beliefs, personal goals, and the person we’re working to become. Being intentional in everything that we do, we have the ability to hyper-focus on our goals, and, ultimately, get what we want out of our lives.
Intentional goals are created with our why in mind and have a deeper meaning connected to our life’s purpose. These goals are harder to abandon or deprioritize, because they’re significant to our personal growth and milestones we’d like to reach in our lives.
This is particularly relevant for people who reach their goals, and then realize they haven’t been particularly clear with why they were pursuing them in the first place. Making choices on a whim, or being reactionary, and, more often than not, abandoning their goals or getting distracted by outside influences. Maybe, you followed the path set before you, to Wall Street, or management consulting, rather than pursue your passions to a less prestigious, but fulfilling career. Or maybe you love the thrill of Wall Street, you’re built for the competition of it all. Whichever camp you’re in, you can find fulfillment right where you are, or you can tweak your life little bit by little bit. You just have to be intentional about it.
So the next time you feel like you’re struggling to gain clarity, find purpose, or know where you want to go, simply acknowledge it, take several deep, fortifying breaths in and long exhales out, and re-connect to your guiding principles and the larger objective at hand. Also, ask yourself, what do YOU genuinely want, in your heart of hearts? And, what would it be like to live from there? Importantly, ask yourself, if you were living a more purposeful and fulfilling life a year from now, what would be different?
It might be that you would spend more time with your family. It might be that you’d finally get serious about your own side hustle. It could be that you take a sabbatical and spend 3-6 months with your kids.
Wherever your heart of hearts is leading you, dig into those places. It’s worth it. Promise.
Start here, and keep pressing forward, and soon you’ll be creating a clear picture of where you want to be a year from now and identifying realistic goals to meet each quarter, rather than cobbling together a long list of meaningless goals you’d like to achieve for the year.
Greater Purpose And Sense Of Flow, More Fulfilling Work
What I’ve noticed coaching the best and brightest leaders is that beyond their relentless pursuit of getting to and staying at the top of their game, what makes high performers great is a clear sense of their operating philosophy and guiding principles. Because of their clarity, self-love, and self-acceptance, they’re more willing and able to push themselves, learn more, and embrace discomfort to achieve their purpose and mission. With a keen sense of who they are and who they’re working to become, they’re better able to tune out the noise and opinions of others and listen to their own well-calibrated, internal compass.
So the next time you’re experiencing a professional transition, give yourself time to process the change and uncertainty, reflect on your guiding principles and values, and be open to meaningful transformation, rather than be in a race to find an identical position. While that may feel more comfortable initially, five years from now, you want to be celebrating personal growth and professional milestones achieved, not asking yourself how you got to where you are, and still aren’t where you want to be.
And, if you’re considering a career pivot to pursue a passion, but you’re not ready to trade the security of a regular salary, you can profoundly alter your experience of what you’re doing now, just by shifting the lens through which you view yourself, your work, and your relationships. No matter what your job is, you can draw meaning from it and find greater purpose through how you do what you do. Perspective is everything! It has critical implications for your energy and how you show up in your life.