How do I identify a clear career direction?

Your question

I want to change career direction but I’m struggling to identify my goal. I can’t seem to get any clarity by thinking about it independently or by talking to friends and family. How do I get ‘unstuck’?

Our answer

Don’t worry the first thing you need to remember is that you’re certainly not alone – in fact according to a recent survey as many as 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs (Deloitte Shift Index Survey 2012). So based on my experience coaching hundreds of clients over the past 10 years, here are my top tips to help you gain the clarity you crave.

1) Trust yourself

First and foremost – you really need to start trusting yourself. Although it can sometimes be helpful to talk to friends and family, it can also be very confusing – because any suggestions or ideas they come up with are inevitably geared towards what they might do, rather than what is right for you. Instead trust your instincts and remember that you know yourself and your life better than anyone else.

2) Define exactly what you want

Start with the basics and define exactly what you do and don’t want from a career. Be as specific and detailed as possible – for example, think about size of company, culture, financial reward, working hours, flexibility and length of commute. Some people find it easier to write down what you don’t want and then flip it over into what you do want instead. For example “I don’t want to work in a big, impersonal corporate environment” could become “I want to work in a small to medium sized business where I can make a real difference.”

3) Picture when you felt most fulfilled

Thinking of a time when you were happiest or feeling most fulfilled can be a good way of defining what you want going forward. Try not to simply default to “I’ll do anything as long as it fits around the kids.” If you have any passions or interests – for example in a particular field or industry – then don’t ignore this. It can provide useful clues on possible career paths.

4) Understand your key motivators and skills

Be clear on what motivates you at work as well as the skills you enjoy using. These are two of the most important things to understand before settling on a career direction. If you need help defining this, then hire a career coach who will have the practical tools to help you work this out quickly and effectively, saving you valuable time and energy!

Answered by our career agony aunt Fiona Clark from Inspired Mums. If you have a question you’d like Fiona to answer, please email her or call her on 07789 597209. If you feel you’ve lost your sense of career direction or lack confidence, contact Fiona for a FREE 30 minute 1-2-1 consultation.

Need more advice? Download Inspired Mums’ free e-book For mums stuck in a career rut – 8 steps to finding work you love on their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter