Are you stuck, bored, or burned out in a career that you no longer love? If so, the #1 thing you must do first is to decide what do you want to do next.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just decide. Unfortunately, it isn’t easy at all. And the stakes couldn’t be higher! We’re talking about your life, after all.
When I faced my own career crossroads a few years ago, I was stumped. I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I had reached the highest point that I could go in my previous job. (I served as President of the Virginia Education Association from 2008-2012.) I had earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership in 2007, but I had never been an administrator..nor did I want to be.
I have two Masters’ degrees, but neither of them offered a prospective job possibility
I also had 33 years experience as an educator. But I was too tired to return to the classroom.
That meant a career change for me. But what to do? Where to go?
I certainly had not planned to retire so early. When you cry every time you consider a prospective idea, however, I think that is a clear sign that you need to think of something else. That’s where I was. Every time I thought about going back to the classroom, I teared up and experienced a profound sense of dread. I was just too tired.
I eventually decided to take early retirement and take some much needed time to rest up. I thought I would feel better if I could take some time for myself. And the rest was wonderful. But I didn’t help me make a decision around the future of my career.
I stayed stuck for months. I tried to write my own resume, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I hired a professional resume writer but was unhappy with the results and felt like I had wasted $400.
I finally found a career coach who offered online advice for a reasonable price. I took her online course which opened my eyes to all the mistakes I had made so far in my search.
Here is the thing about job searching. You don’t know what you don’t know, and what you don’t know, in this case, can hurt you. There is an old saying that “What you don’t know cannot hurt you.” In job hunting, what you don’t know will hurt you. In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss.
I made the same mistake that a lot of job seekers make when they start out to change their job or career. They write their resume first based on all the things they have ever done since they started to work. They include everything because they want to display all their experience whether it is relevant or not.
That approach might have worked in years past. Today, recruiters and hiring managers are not interested everything you have ever done. They want to see what can you do for them NOW. They care about your unique blend of skills, experience, education, talents, and aptitudes. They want to know how you can help them solve their current and future problems. How can you save them money or make them more money? They are much more interested in the bottom line. What can you bring to them? And how well will you fit in with their team?
You can’t write a resume that conveys your value until you decide what it is you bring to the prospective job. And you can’t decide that until you have decided what the heck you want to do with your career? You have to answer the question, “What do you want to do next?” You may be crystal clear on all that you don’t want to do, but the clarity needs to be around what you want in the next phase of your career.
Here was my list of wants: I wanted a flexible schedule. I wanted to work for myself instead of someone else. I preferred to work from home. I wanted to work in a way that provided service to people. I also wanted to stay in touch with my teacher colleagues because I know teachers. I love teachers. I understand teachers because I have walked in their shoes.
What resulted from that list of wants was the idea of coaching, but I resisted that idea for months. I didn’t believe that coaching was a real “job.” I didn’t believe I could make any money coaching. I didn’t believe I could support myself as a coach. I was afraid that I would never convince anyone that I had anything of value to offer.
Yet, the idea would not go away, and at the end of the day, I had all those “wants” that fit the profile of coaching.
I talked to my coach about it after I heard a presentation on the topic of “Follow Your Passion…Find Your Next Job.” I decided to try on the idea of coaching, at least. So, I asked her what she thought. Her response was perfect. “If you feel called to coach teachers who are feeling the kind of burnout you have been feeling, you should go for it.” That was all the encouragement I needed.
I started to look into coaching programs. I learned that coaching is one of the fastest growing industries, and it has not leveled off yet. Many Boomers are turning to coaching. They want to help their younger colleagues with some of the challenges they face. After all, Boomers have a lot of experience and expertise to offer.
So, it turned out that coaching was next for ME.
The question is, what is next for YOU?
If you don’t know what you want to do next or what your next steps are, then I encourage you to find someone who can help you figure it out sooner rather than later. You will waste valuable time and money if you fail to answer the simple, yet not so easy question, “What do you want to do next?”
You can’t ignore the question. In fact, your life depends upon your being able to answer it.
Until next time.
Photos by Depositphotos.com.