One of my favourite things to do is to go to the Career Guidance subreddit to read and answer questions. It’s a beautiful illustration of the way that we are all unique but simultaneously motivated, inspired and troubled by the same things. One of the most common questions I’ve seen relates to how a person chooses between career options.
Emon* is a really great example of this – at 30, he’s done a few different jobs, has a few years of post secondary education but has really never felt pulled in a particular direction. Now, he’s at a point where he needs to make a decision – should he go into auto repair with a friend or should he go into web design? His initial question intrigued me because he said that he thought “he could do just about any skilled labour kind of job but auto mechanic would be his top choice” OR he could do “web design but that he hated office politics” and was worried that they would factor more heavily into a web design job.
Or how about April*? After having worked for several years as a violin teacher and musician for hire, she came to realize that she didn’t like to teach! However, she also realized that she would not be able to survive on the money she made as a musician for hire (alone) and was wondering if she should stay with her music career or if she should go back to school to become a developer.
These are just two examples of people I have met but it is interesting how many times people seem to be at a crossroads in their careers where they feel stuck between two seemingly vastly different options. The longer they spend without making the decision the more stuck they become.
Focus on The “Right” Thing
For both Emon and April, one of the first things that drew me to want to talk to them were the fears and concerns they both expressed about making the “right” choice and not making a mistake. I immediately thought to myself, wow, you’re already in this super difficult position of needing to change your life and you’re adding to that by putting pressure on yourself not to screw it up?!” . When we come to a crossroad in our careers (or in anything really), we can sometimes get fixated on picking the right option. This is the wrong thing to focus on. It’s not that there are two equal careers sitting in front of April or Emon and that they have the ability to simply step into either with both options providing the same likelihood of success and personal happiness.
One of the choices is clearly better than the other. In order to identify which option is better, we need to shift our focus from our fear of making the wrong decision and onto what our soul or gut is really telling us.
5 Steps to Listening to Your Gut
- Stop the crazy pressure, fear, panic that you are experiencing by creating a stillness in your mind. One of the easiest ways to do this is through breathing. Here is a good breathing exercise – follow this if you find it useful.
- Ask yourself soul expanding questions. Six months ago these soul expanding questions discussed by Michael Beckwith changed my life, check out this video.
- Write. And write. And write. Write down the answers to Michael’s questions and also ask and answer questions of a more practical nature. Some questions you might consider are:
- What am I really good at in the work I do today?
- What are my favourite parts of my job?
- What does my ideal work day look like?
- Am I really willing to put in time toward training or more education right now?
- Feel. After you answer the questions, read what you’ve written, do your breathing exercises again, and sit in the stillness and just feel. Pay attention to your body, what are you feeling? Think about one of the career options – pay attention to your body, what is coming up for you? Now think about the second option – draw your attention to your body again, now what is coming up for you?
- Be honest with yourself. Take everything you’ve written and thought and put it together and you will know what is the right move for you.
You’ll notice that we haven’t talked about money. You may think, money is a hugely important part of this decision. There is no question as to the importance of money. However, what I believe is that once you align yourself with a career that is meaningful to you for more than just what you will earn in dollars – you will find a way to have the money fall into place. Am I saying ignore it completely and do something crazy like quit your job without a safety net? No (although there may be times when that might be appropriate!). I’m just saying – don’t let money fears back you into a corner when it comes to making a decision about what you’re going to do with a huge portion of your life. You can work the money out.
Freedom – The Path Forward
So now that you know what the right option for you, is, stop for a minute. Do you feel that? That feeling is the euphoria of connecting with yourself and getting clarity on the path forward. This doesn’t mean that everything from here out is easy. It means that you can put your whole heart behind any actions you take from here. Anything that has your whole heart behind it empowers you and is possible.
If you are faced with a decision similar to Emon and April – I wish you every success and happiness with it. Let me know what you are faced with?!
*Names have been changed.
I do not own any of these videos.