'I'm doing X. I've done it for years. I'm fed up with it. Should I now go and do Y? Or Z?'
That's what a lot of women ask.
My answer to that is: 'I don't know.'
Because I don't.
And actually, I think it is the wrong question. Or rather, it's the right question, but asked at the wrong time of the wrong person.
Worse, it's actually one of the reasons you get stuck!
You see, when you're in a job you want to get out of you're looking for simple solutions. A way out.
You think you have to start by finding the solution. And then work your way towards it.
Because that's how you've been doing it at work. Name the problem. Identify a solution. Work towards it.
Simple as that.
Except that it isn't. Simple, I mean.
What it is, is trying to jump your way to an answer.
What it also is is trying to skip a profoundly transformational journey, that ultimately leads you to YOUR version of Career Freedom and career happiness.
You see, the reason I can't answer your question for you, is because I don't know you. And also because- ultimately - it is not important that I know you.
What's important is that YOU know you.
And make the decision that is right for you.
But before that there is a whole journey to go through.
A journey of discovery.
The journey of discovery - and why you don't want to miss it
When I was contemplating making changes to my career what I did instead was this. I changed jobs. I went to another organisation. And did the same job.
Not once. Not twice. Not even when I was made redundant and got a nice pot of redundancy money.
I thought that moving to another company would mean I could start all over again. A clean slate. New opportunities.
What I forgot was that wherever you go there you are.
You always take yourself with you.
Which means that old habits, things that bothered you at your old company, are likely to bother you again. And again. And again.
In other words, for you to understand why you're feeling the way you're feeling you're going to have to start there. With you.
Not only to understand what is making you go round and round in circles, repeating the same pattern over and over (and over and over) again.
But also to start the journey of self-discovery that has led you to find yourself here, on this crossroads.
To give yourself a profound understanding of the person you are. What makes you uniquely you.
It's an upside down view of how we normally go about making changes to our career. Where we look at what's available, and then squeeze our unique self into a standard job description.
Instead, now that we've come this far, you're not going to want to settle for squeezing yourself - yet again - into a corporate box. Are you?
No, for you to be happy, you need to KNOW what makes you happy.
How reconnecting with yourself and what you want is going to make you feel
Years ago someone said to me 'your head is stronger than your body'.
It's true. To a point. You can ignore all the signs. Carry on regardless. You can keep finding new jobs, moving to different companies. In other words, you can keep doing the same thing and expect different results.
Until you can't.
At which point the question is NOT 'should I do X or Y'.
The real question should be:
Who am I, and what is it that I want?
And - believe it or not - that's not an easy question.
Because when we started out in our career we conformed. To what our parents thought. Or the people around us. To what was an 'acceptable' career. What was 'realistic'. We were formed by what we believed was the way to make a living. We got busy. Had a family. Hardly had time for ourselves.
To the extent that sometimes women say to me 'I don't even know what I like doing anymore' (and if that's you you may want to have a look at my Do What You Love call right here: CLICK)
What I say though is that you do. Know what you want. Know what you like doing. Know what you'd like to do.
And I'm also going to make a prediction. That the moment you say this out loud to yourself. Or write it down. Or even discuss it with your partner. Or your best friend.
That you will be overcome with a wave of energy. That you will feel as if your body is made of bubbles. That the top of your head will fly open and ideas will burst out. That you will want to sing and scream. But most of all, that you want to make plans. See if you can make what you want into reality.
THAT is how I think you'll feel. I've seen it with my clients. I've felt it myself. And it's the most powerful feeling in the world.
The power of taking inspired action
'Hang on!' I can hear you say. 'That's all well and good. But how do I know?'
How DO you know. A good question indeed.
Because determining what you'd LIKE to do and actually KNOWING that that's what you'd like to do are two different things.
Which is where the inspired action-taking comes in.
Because you've got to test it. To find out if there are people who do what you want to do for a living. How they got into it. What they like about it. And what they don't. You may want to try it out. For a day. Or a week.
In other words, you may want to test out if what you want to do is actually for you.
You see, sometimes we have these dreams of things we'd like to do, that don't match up to the reality. But by taking real action you can check if this is the case for you. Risk-free (because still in a job).
The other benefit? Certainty. That, YES!, this is the job for you. Or no, it isn't, but - actually - through talking to people I've found something else that interests me.
Real action. Meeting real people. Doing a real experiment, or real work experience. Giving you the answers you need. And giving you a truckload of confidence along the way!
So, go on. Ask the question! Should you go and do Y? Or Z?
You can now answer your own question!
When I was in your position I wanted to skip straight to the answer. But it's like skipping to the last pages of a detective novel. You're skipping the best bit!
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.
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