I once had a client who we’ll call Jacob. He came into my office looking pretty stressed out, telling me that he needed help landing a job in the engineering field. I proceeded to ask my usual battery of questions, such as:
The most telling answer Jacob shared with me was that he originally majored in mechanical engineering because his parents told him to. His dad was an engineer. His mom was an engineer. Therefore, there was this unspoken expectation that he would follow in their footsteps.
After talking with Jacob for 20 more minutes, I learned that he had a tremendous passion for creative writing and comedy. He dreamed of being a stand-up comedian and/or writing for a TV show. But he knew his parents would disapprove. He was also scared of what his friends would think.
This means they have taken the time to assess their core strengths, interests, personality traits and passions. Advice and opinions from others are not the guiding force of their career destiny.
Conversely, the way I know a client might be on the wrong career path, or a path that is not congruent with who they are, is if they are completely externally focused.
If they’re primarily concerned with how much money they can make or what their friends or family or society thinks, I know they’re on the wrong career path. Or perhaps they chose a path just randomly without giving it much thought and hoping it will somehow work out (fingers crossed!).
Now, I realize times are tough and there are many people who have been laid off due to the pandemic. There is not always that golden opportunity to follow your dreams and passions.
Sometimes you need to just put food on the table and pay the bills. However, if you are not currently in a job that aligns with at least a couple of your core traits, you will likely burn out at some point in the near future.
If you’re currently in a job that is not a good fit for you, it’s important not to beat yourself up. You can often learn so much about yourself through doing work that you don’t like.
Every job provides you with the unique opportunity to acquire new skills, meet new, interesting people, and gain new information about yourself. Take that information and use it to take the next step in your career journey.
The next time you go to apply for a job, try these next steps.
Take the time to do some internal reflection before sending out your resume. What are your current job “must haves”? The things that you simply cannot be without at this stage of your career? Is it flexibility? Creativity?
Take a look at your innate strengths. If you’re not sure, ask people closest to you to share what they see are your core strengths. Then ask yourself if you actually enjoy using these strengths.
Reflect on your personality. For example, if you are in a role that requires you to talk to people for a good part of the day, but you are a strong introvert (i.e. you get energized by working on projects mostly alone), you might need to ask yourself if you want to stay in your job long-term.
If you take the time to self-reflect and if you operate from more of an internal vs. external frame of reference, you will eventually find yourself on the right career path!
This article was written by a Fairygodboss contributor.
Lee Cristina Beaser is a career coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and founder of The Career Counter, where she empowers women to achieve happiness and fulfillment in their careers.