Before I work with any client I always ask them one question:
“What is the #1 thing holding you back from career success?”
To this question I get dozens of answers. Dozens and dozens. Like way too many dozens of eggs left over from Easter dozens. But all of those answers are rewordings of one single problem. Always.
“A clear focus on what I want to do/should be doing.”
I hear you. So loud. So clear. Trust me when I tell you I know the frustration. The feeling that somehow everyone else has been let in on some secret that you’re not cool enough to know.
The secret though? That’s bullshit. Most people feel the same way you do!
Why? What the hell man?! It’s because we’re not taught how to manage our careers. We’re taught what to know to get certain jobs and sometimes how to get jobs, but rarely, if ever, how to manage our careers once we’re in them. We are left to our own devices and frazzled HR directors who have no time to have a career growth chat because they have to run payroll, get the new benefits system up and running and talk to Joe about not wearing his daisy dukes even on casual Fridays.
So what then? What are you supposed to do?
For starters, you absolutely don’t have to figure out your career all by yourself. Below is a roundup of some resources you might find helpful:
You could start with career blogs. There are so many talented people out there writing and offering help, to you, for free.
Want someone to do the heavy lifting for you? Leverage recruiters and even temp agencies! Their job is to analyze your skills and place you in a job you’d thrive in. You could try some national agencies like Premier Staffing or Robert Half.
You could try taking a few tests. I personally am not a fan of these and I don’t use them in my practice but many people really like them and find them useful. There is one called Strengthsfinder that many companies rely on. Once you know what your strengths are you can make sure you are focusing on those in whatever role you’re in because working to your strengths = happiness.
Oprah apparently has an awesome (and free) career assessment test too!
And of course there are career coaches. Now I know private coaching isn’t an option for everyone - but it truly IS the most comprehensive option. That said, many coaches offer lower cost group programs or self-paced online courses. There are so many amazing coaches out there - you just need to do a little research to find the best one for you.
See what I’m getting at? Don’t feel like you’re left to your own devices. Try one, two or a few - whatever feels good to you. But don’t leave your career to chance. Figure out what you love to do, want to do and make a plan.