Do you ever feel like life just happens to you? One job leads to another and now you find yourself five, 10, or 20 years later in a career that is not especially fulfilling. Maybe you feel like you arrived there by accident—never making time to deliberately think about what you’d like to do or how to get there. Essentially you feel stuck. Sometimes this is the result of what career theorists call “career compromise.” One theory, Gottfredson’s career theory of circumscription and compromise, suggests that for a variety of reasons, people may wind up in careers that they perceive as compromises. What makes people view their careers this way includes a complex combination of factors including gender, upbringing, socioeconomic status, academic performance, expectations set by others, and one’s ambition and need for achievement. If you feel like you’ve gone down the wrong career path, it’s not too late to make a change. Here are some steps to break free once and for all.
Invest in self-exploration
- What are you good at?
- What do people compliment you on?
- What activities that you used to enjoy have gone by the wayside over the years?
- What are some things about your current career that you do like (there must be something)?
- What activities can you focus on for hours and hours, yet it seems like no time has passed?
- What are some career ideas that you dismissed early on because you felt that they were too “impractical” or “unrealistic”?
Open your mind
Many people find themselves in unfulfilling careers because they have made choices based on what they “should” do instead of what they “want” to do. Most likely if you feel stuck in a career that isn’t a good fit, you’ve been operating mainly from your “head” and not your “heart.” Making that shift from head to heart is critical to finding fulfillment. Operating from your heart allows you to be open to new opportunities and new ways of looking at things. Let go of society’s expectations. You don’t have to be a doctor, lawyer, or have a fancy degree to be successful or feel fulfilled. Often, we end up making career choices to impress other people so we can feel validated. In the process, we lose sight of what makes us truly happy. As a result, the higher we climb the corporate ladder, the more unhappy and unfulfilled we feel. In today’s world, there are so many options that it’s more possible than ever for you to design your own life (according to your own rules). Open your mind and explore the possibilities! Don’t think about what you’re qualified to do. Think about what you really want to do and then develop a plan to get there.
Find uplifting people
Tony Robbins said it best,
If we surround ourselves with people who are successful, who are forward-moving, who are positive, who are focused on producing results, who support us, it will challenge us to be more and do more and share more. If you can surround yourself with people who will never let you settle for less than you can be, you have the greatest gift that anyone can hope for.”
Once you identify that ideal career, seek out people who are successful in that field. You would be surprised how many of them would welcome a conversation with someone aspiring to follow in their footsteps. Don’t be shy. At the same time, evaluate your current social and professional relationships. Do you feel any of those people are holding you back? Do they share your desire for more in life? If not, it may be time to release yourself from those connections and elevate your standards. Clearing yourself of negative energy so you can let optimism and positivity enter your life can be transforming.
Take small steps forward
It’s never too late to make a career transition. The key is to know yourself, open your mind, find support, and take small, consistent steps. What you want exists—don’t settle until you get it!