The world offers more opportunities than ever. This is great news when it comes to thinking about your next career steps - how you want to grow professionally. The number of possibilities to progress your career also generates stress and overwhelm. Since career paths are not linear anymore but rather a combination of different experiences in various fields, organisations and roles we're increasingly responsible for managing our own career growth paths. The choices are yours. So in which direction do you want to be heading?
The vast number of options to progress your career can feel confusing and consuming. And having a million questions in your mind doesn't help to gain clarity. What excites me? What am I good at? What are my exceptional skills? How do I want to develop professionally? How do I want to help people and make a difference in this world?
When you find the essential questions to answer in a logical order you'll notice confusion shifting to clarity. Clarity boosts certainty which feeds confidence to pursue your meaningful path. But how do you manage your career growth feeling more excited than exhausted?
I collected these five tips that helped me to a good start. Having faced the challenges myself, I know what it takes to explore, plan and undertake actions to develop a career to find a fulfilling path. Therefore, I want to help you to overcome overwhelm and find certainty by sharing my lessons with you.
"If you don't know where you're going, you are likely to end up somewhere else" - Laurence Peter
Even exciting changes can feel like a burden and a mountain too high to climb. I've taken up promotions, looked for new challenges and increased responsibilities to keep growing professionally to meet my interests and goals. Sometimes I've paid the costs of being tired and overburdened of giving so much of myself to my work. Yet, I'm feeling most alive when I get to be challenged. So, I want to keep growing professionally but in a sustainable way. By this, I mean having to stretch myself to create and learn.
I'm not the only one. The main reason talents are looking for a new career direction is due to feeling stuck professionally. Employee growth should interest also their employers as it's ultimately the biggest driver of organizational growth and innovation. Yet, 95% of employees are currently considering leaving their jobs and the number one reason employees move on is lacking growth opportunities (a survey by Gloat). One-third of employees said their company wasn’t utilizing their full potential though studies show that employees would be nearly 3-times more engaged when they see opportunities to learn in their job (LinkedIn).
These results concern me. And companies. Supervisors are trying different approaches to improve their employee satisfaction and engagement so that their key talents would stay. Still, the record-high resignation wave doesn't seem to slow down. People normally want to avoid changes but now they don't care about how consuming it might be - they initiate changes
Knowing what it takes to make career changes, even major career pivots like transitioning to a new field, becoming an entrepreneur and pursuing a mission as a business owner, has made me passionate to help other professionals towards flourishing career growth and companies to support their talent's in their career growth management with more ease and less stress.
So, how did I turn my career planning from panic to empowering planning? Let me share these five essential phases in my career planning to guide you navigate your career direction. Let me know how these helped you to unleash feeling stuck and find career clarity.
1. Follow what makes you happy
This sounds fluffy but do hear me out.
I'll rewind a few years to give you the whole picture. I really enjoyed my previous career phase and the growth opportunities that were given to me as a marketing professional. I took the most of the freedom within my budget responsibility to develop our marketing efforts while challenging myself to create something new and unforeseen. When my personal situation changed (I met my husband 🥰) I knew that I needed to look for a new career direction to feel happy in my life. So, I started the exploration by thinking about what was making me feel the happiest in my work - what was the most rewarding for me.
I came to the conclusion that it is working with and for people. More specifically, the most rewarding in all my previous marketing roles was to bring people together, facilitate their learning and networking, provide inspiration and useful ideas to thrive in their role. I was using the power of gathering to create memorable experiences to enhance their professional flourishing. I felt happy and the most successful when I received feedback from the customers on how useful and unexpected the events were that I had put together for them.
2. Strengthen your strong side
I received mostly great feedback on the events I can say I was pretty good (not to brag but 'the event exceeded my expectations' rate by hundreds of participants was between 3.5-3.8/4 😁). Creating these kinds of useful and memorable experiences requires understanding the audience, how to move them and serve them. So, I identified another skill: social intelligence.
On top of that, I was well experienced in communications and delivering my ideas and messages across to different people, stakeholders and groups. My mission to help others shine and thrive in their work resulted in many successful projects and partnerships.
According to the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, using your strengths increases not only happiness but fulfilment; "You go into flow when your highest strengths are deployed to meet the highest challenges that come your way" describes Seligman.
3. Let go of old desires
I was good at my job. I had enjoyed the freedom, flexibility and responsibility I had in my position. So why would I look for something new?
Like Seligman explains human flourishing and well-being, I wanted to be challenged in a new way. But it didn't help my overwhelm when I looked at open markets in London (where I was moving). To my surprise, there were more than 7,000 open Marketing Manager positions on just one job-search site (when in my hometown, there would be a dozen open marketing positions).
I kept brainstorming options within the field and even thinking of starting my own business related to marketing and event production. I also thought deepening my expertise in some speciality areas and mapped out study options from Masters to MBAs. I just didn't feel it, the tickle, the excitement. Continuing my career in marketing started to feel distant.
It also felt scary to even think about leaving a 10-year marketing career behind. I had a lot of 'What if' questions feeding my uncertainty. This doubting was not serving my mental health. Raising panic made all options look unsuitable.
Despite my doubts, I wanted to trust my instincts. And my inner voice was telling me to keep exploring options where to direct my career. Little by little, I become comfortable with letting go of my previous career. Appreciating the past opened capacity to see beyond the old.
Now that I look back, I've noticed how essential it is to be able to let go of the things that are now supporting your current needs and interests anymore. You release a lot of energy that would be going into circling and worrying. Only after I accepted to pivot from the previous career that I had enjoyed for a decade I could enjoy creating the new phase.
4. Get ready in your own pace
Don't force it. If you're going against your preferred pace, can the results be good for you?
If you feel that you need or should do something instead of wanting to make the change, you might miss something vital.
I believe that when you're not in a hurry you have more time to explore different options and plan a path that would meet your true interests instead of taking on a new job just because it would be an escape from your current situation.
My clients have also made successful career growth plans and landed dream jobs or started their businesses when they've taken time to do a full 360-degree career planning from profound self-exploration and career design.
5. Nourish what feels natural
I noticed I'm going back to my roots - what comes naturally. The means of facilitating learning, growth and change are the same but the tools are different. Now I'm using the power of coaching to help professionals to increase their career happiness through meaningful professional development.