Whether you recently quit your job, were furloughed, sold your company, closed its doors, or you’re a recent graduate looking for future career opportunities, it can be hard to find clarity. So often it feels as though a next career move must be dependent upon what’s currently available. But, that’s not necessarily the case. Clarity simply means you have certainty that you’re choosing what’s best for your long term vision, and it also feels exciting to you right now. You have the power to create this clarity and a new vision for what you want your next career move to be, rather than trying to fit your vision into positions or freelancing gigs that may be available.
For some, this comes as a sudden epiphany. It isn’t always that easy, though. If you’re feeling lost and nebulous on your next career move, try these four things before you settle for something. After all, our careers are one of the biggest parts of our lives. We deserve to find something we truly love.
Gaining clarity and helping people transition between careers, especially to start an online business, has been a specialty of Balazs W. Kardos, who shared the 4 biggest tips for someone going through a transition.
How To Find Clarity When Your Next Step Is Uncertain | Stephanie Burns
1. Take Inventory Of Your Life
Although it may feel like you’re starting over in a way, you’re not. You have certain life experiences, past jobs or relationships where you have learned a thing or two about yourself. What you like, what you don’t like, your strengths and weaknesses, etc. “When you’re looking for direction, the most important place on a map is where you currently are,” reminds Kardos. “You can only plot a route to your destination if you first know exactly where you are currently. This requires an open and honest assessment and being clear about your current results and reality of your life.”
What were your key findings from past experiences? Did you ever see a problem that needed fixing? Did you ever notice that someone in another department at your old job seemed to have the best job ever? You have more than you think in your own experience – draw on that.
2. Visualize Your “Dream Day”
Deep down, you know exactly what would make your ‘perfect day.’ Don’t think of the oft-referenced what-you-would-do-if-you-had-24-hours-left-to-live type of scenario, but rather, what would your perfect everyday look like? Try to visualize it! What time do you wake up? What does your day consist of? If you start with the end in mind, then make sure your career/business choice allows you to live this way, you’ll surely find more fulfillment than trying to chase a specific career and “hoping” that the lifestyle of your dreams can fit in around it, or worse, betting on the fact that you’ll live long enough to be able to enjoy that lifestyle at some distant point in the future.
Visualizing is great to do just by sitting with your eyes closed then letting your mind wander, but if you become restless or you’re having a hard time focusing, take pen to paper. Executive leadership coach Cynthia Corsetti shared with The Muse that she has clients “write a story that describes in detail what they want their future to look like—down to the pictures on the wall of their office. Adults learn by using all their senses. By writing the exercise they are using their thoughts as well as the physical activity of writing which seals the idea and makes it more concrete.”
3. Network And Meeting People To Form Alliances
Once you have more clarity, use this honed focus to start to talk to people who are doing what you want to do. You can glean many insights from their experiences and thoughts that can help you craft an accurate picture of what a day in the life of their career is like. Begin by thinking about who you know who does what you want to do – and ask friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues if they know anyone. Ask for introductions. Writer Elana Gross advised, “Don’t limit yourself to people you know or are connected to in some way. Go on LinkedIn and read people’s job descriptions or go online and read interviews and articles about people you admire.”
See if these people have podcasts, blogs, or have ever been interviewed so you can learn from the content they already have available! Attending (in person or online) industry events and conferences that will introduce you to new circles and build relationships with key alliances can fast track your path to fulfilling your ultimate vision. The key is to be of service and be a go-giver not just someone who takes. Do they have a course or perhaps even a mentorship program that they offer? Kardos explained that “the concept of ‘paying to play,’ can often help get your foot in the door to be able to get mentorship.”
4. Show Your Worth
Finally, if you come up against a hiring freeze because of the pandemic or you aren’t totally sure that your clarity is, well, clear – consider asking to shadow someone for a little bit. Gary Vaynerchuk gives the advice to ask someone you really admire and look up to if you can work for them for free for a certain amount of time, and then overdeliver once you’re given the opportunity. This may or may not work for you depending on your financial situation. But it’s a savvy way to get your foot in the door if you’re pretty sure it’s your dream job – and it stands out far brighter than just a standard resume and cover letter!
Besides, if you have truly followed the first 3 tips, a couple months of internship under the right mentor will yield far greater return than any lost wages.
Ultimately, finding clarity has to be done by taking action. Beyond visualizing, talking, and thinking through past experiences, get out there – get your hands dirty and see what brings you to life in the most energizing way possible. It’s possible to find – or create – your dream job.