It has been a mystery to me how some people know at an early age exactly what they want to do as a profession and then actually follow through with their goal. As a child, I dreamt of being the captain of the Starship Enterprise. Back then, I had no concerns about the impracticalities of my ambition.
The closest I came to taking the ultimate seat of command — Captain Kirk’s chair — was during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center where it, and other Star Trek memorabilia, was on display.
A far cry from space travel, I spent the bulk of my career working in financial services both in human resources roles and in leadership positions within two of Canada’s largest insurance companies. In some ways it felt like I was charting a course for unknown territories, but it didn’t feel like my final frontier. For me, it was my quest as a life-long learner that led me to become a professional certified coach, business consultant, and a graduate student in the field of counselling psychology.
A Shoe That Doesn't Fit
While some people find their ideal career path early in life, others meander from job to job never believing the fit is quite right. It can feel like wearing a pair of shoes that are just a little too small. They look great, but aren’t comfortable to walk in for long.
If this describes you, I want you to know that you’re in some pretty fabulous company. From Aristotle to Mozart and J.K Rowling, some of the greatest and most creative minds bounced from role to role feeling unsure, depressed, and like a failure before reaching their unique potential.
The Art of Blooming Late
Kevin Evers wrote a brilliant article for the May-June 2019 issue of the Harvard Business Review called The Art of Blooming Late. Evers reminds us that it is never too late to become yourself and that as we mature, we gain wisdom. I happen to believe this comes from trial and error and that self-fulfillment, as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, just takes time.
The good news is that through small daily habits, a focus on self awareness, and by seeking input from people you trust and respect, you’ll find clearer ways to chart your course for a professional adventure that aligns with your strengths and unique talents.
Comparison is the root of suffering. For you to find your unmistakable self, it is going to take time, effort, and a willingness to dig deep. It is a process worthy of your attention and energy.
Baby Steps Forward
If you’re feeling stuck in a career that doesn’t fit you, don’t let uncertainty hold you back. Take some baby steps forward and consider these ideas.
Describe your ideal day. This is an exercise that seems quite easy on the surface, but one that when you give yourself permission to really think about what your perfect day could hold, it may prove a little more difficult to imagine.
Why is this a challenge?
My experience has shown that people get caught up in the obstacles and reasons they can’t have their ideal life and so they don’t focus on the specifics of what it actually would be like. Check out this Huffington Post article called The Life Transforming Magic of the Perfect Day Exercise or Barbara Sher’s Perfect Day Exercise.
Spend a few hours outlining and then fine-tuning exactly how you’d like to spend your ideal day. This exercise will provide some powerful insights. Revisit it until you can start to see paths to make aspects of your perfect day a reality. It is a process that can reveal ways to become more innovative and creative about your life.
Complete a self assessment. Being more self aware is a way to become more conscious of your attributes, behaviours, tendencies and preferences. Many assessments are online and free. If you need help figuring out which one is right for you, email me at [email protected]. As an advanced assessment practitioner, I’ll be able to provide you with some helpful options to consider.
Find a mentor or a coach. Think about the values and traits you admire in your personal or professional community. Then, seek the support and input of someone who is impartial and will keep your conversation in confidence. Have a few keys questions prepared before you meet to ensure you’re making the best use of time for both of you.
Commit with purpose and intentionality. As we say in German “Ich werde” or “I will”. Even if it is the smallest step forward, take action, “beweg dich” and get going!