Eight tips to get unstuck from a dead-end job

Envision a new day at a new desk

“What should I do with my life?” it is not only the most basic question we ask, but also the most essential. With many options and different careers available, are we supposed to figure out the exact right position? There is not necessarily one right answer. For those of us who haven’t been blessed with career serendipity, our best option is to undergo a process to explore what we really want to do. This journey will take time, patience, courage, openness and a good deal of thought.

1). Figure out what you don't like. To kickstart the career search process, begin with analyzing jobs/titles/duties you dislike. First write out your “Job From Hell,” before moving on to the “Job From Heaven.” Taking a close look at the opposite of something allows us to shift our thinking and enables us to articulate in detail what we want.

2). Develop a narrative. It is important to develop a narrative around our dream job which includes what we do day-to-day, who we interface with, what’s the product or service involved, what is our value system and how our values impact the work we choose. Now that we’ve crafted a picture in our minds, our role in an organization starts to take shape and becomes much more clear.

3). Envision a day at your new job. When you’ve completed these exercises, you might start to even see yourself working at your new job! Hang on to this vision and expand it.

4). Get feedback from those you trust. There’s a saying, “Oh what a gift the giftie gives us, to see ourselves as others see us.” Ask people who have your true interest at heart the question, “What should I be doing with my career?” You may be surprised by their answers. You’re not of course obligated to follow their advice, but the answers you receive may help you start the discovery process and lead you to uncover areas you never considered before.

5). Know your interests. It is not uncommon for many of my clients to have a vague idea about what interests them but confusion over whether or not the various elements can translate into an actual job. This is where an experienced coach can really help.

6). Start with intensive research. This might entail talking to other people to see what is out there, asking people how they created a unique role for themselves where none existed prior, performing job research on-line to investigate the possibilities or shadowing people who perform a job you’re interested in or a job similar to what you want to do.

7). Get rid of your negative thinking. Most people already know what they want to achieve and pursue at a deep level, at the soul level. This should be reassuring, but, unfortunately, they believe they don’t know this answer. Constrained by a “should” or “can’t”, they allow fear or lack of confidence hold them back from doing work they would love.

8). Give yourself permission to do something out of the box. One client of mine was tired of a corporate setting. His dream was to work with children with cancer and help them during a time when they felt alone and confused He wanted to bring joy into their lives and help them forget their fear over their life-threatening illness. But he needed to give himself permission to do something very different from what he had been doing. Although he had no prior experience with children, his experience in the airline industry dovetailed nicely to fit the needs of service that were required for such a role.

In the end, only you can figure out what my friend Joe Sabah calls “The song you came here to sing." What you choose to do as a career speaks deeply to who you are as a person. It is one of the most personal statements you can make to the world at large. Embarrassment and fear of not meeting others’ expectations are the main culprits keeping people from uncovering their true path. There are no simple or easy answers, but the questions to help you in your journey are relatively simple. What do you really want to do? Why aren’t you doing it?  What is really holding you back? Spend some time examining these issues. And then get unstuck and work at what you love.

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