What To Do When You Lack Career Direction

Do you ever feel lost in your career? Have you been bouncing from job to job without the faintest idea what your real “passion” is? Do you know you want to be your own boss, but haven’t a clue what kind of business to start? Most of us have felt a lack of career direction at one time or another. Although it’s possible, it is rare for someone to “just know” what they want to do with their lives. The majority of us have to work at it. Here are some ways to take charge of your career and discover what you’re really meant to do with your life.

Consider new paths

Careers are no longer linear. Rather than counting on moving up the corporate ladder, there are new directions to consider including:

  • Lateral: these types of career moves involve changing the job, but not necessarily the pay, status, or level of responsibility.
  • Enrichment: growing the position you currently have is an option that many people overlook. According to the book, Love It Don’t Leave It, it is essential to look inside before you jump outside.
  • Realignment: this involves moving downward in pay, status, or responsibilities. Diya Jolly, Chief Product Officer at Okta, is the perfect example of this. At three points in her career, she took a step down and accepted a lower title and salary. While it may seem counterintuitive, each move helped her achieve greater long-term success. By ignoring the fancy job title and challenging yourself to learn new skills, you could be better positioned for future career growth.

Invest in yourself

Investing in yourself when you lack career direction could be one of the best ways to break out of your rut. One way to do this is to focus on learning and professional development. Depending on your role, you could consider taking a course in public speaking or team management to hone your skills. Are you in a profession that would benefit from additional certifications, like HR or IT? Now might be a good time to pursue them. Hiring a coach or mentor may also help with finding career clarity. A coach is like a personal trainer for your career. They act as a champion, advocate, partner, and sounding board. A great coach will also challenge you and help you overcome your fears so you can confidently step outside your comfort zone.

Explore the possibilities

Finding career direction also involves exploring the possibilities. Are you keeping an open mind? So many of my clients make the mistake of unnecessarily limiting themselves. For example, many people have a misconception that large companies are more stable, secure, and offer higher salaries than small to mid-sized companies. In most cases, this is a fallacy. The right employer will fight for you and provide an attractive salary and benefits if they really want you. Especially in today’s competitive environment. Don’t hesitate to go as far back as your childhood to uncover what you enjoy and are good at. Think about what talents people compliment you on. These are all potential signposts that can guide you to your dream career.

Write down your ideal job description

Writing down your ideal job description is a great way to find career direction. Imagine your perfect role. Do you work for yourself or someone else? If you work at a company, what is their mission? How does it align with your values? What is the work environment like? Is it casual or more formal? Are you working in an office or remotely? Does the job involve travel? Are you working by yourself or as part of a team? What does a typical day or week look like? Be as specific as possible. Once you craft a detailed job description, you can start to find companies or opportunities that fit your vision.

Create your dream life

They say if you can’t find it, create it. Have you been struggling for years to find the right corporate position that fills you up? That could mean it’s time to strike out on your own and create your dream life. The reason I say “dream life” and not “dream job” is because this is about more than just a job. When you work for yourself, the first thing to consider is passion. Find something that you are genuinely passionate about—that activity that you enjoy so much you’d do it even if people didn’t pay you for it. It’s that thing that you can’t stop thinking about. The idea that won’t let you go. Then find a way to monetize it. Remember, the bigger the dream, the crazier people will think you are. Ignore them. Look at Suzy Batiz, the founder of Poo-Pourri. Everyone thought she was nuts. Then she found herself 13 years later on the Forbes Richest Self-Made Women in America list. Luck? No. Hard work and passion? You bet.

When was the last time that you really examined your career? Now is as good a time as any to take the first step to a life of meaning. As Gandhi said, “Every moment of your life is infinitely creative, and the universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request, and everything your heart desires must come to you.”

Thinking about a career change but not sure what steps to take? Check out my free guide: 7 Steps to Career Clarity.