No matter if you are in your first job or your last, at some point we’ve all been there. That hellish place between where we are and where we want to be. I call it career purgatory. Does this sound like you?
-I’m not sure what I want to do next and I don’t have the time to think about it.
-I’m afraid that the grass is not greener, so I think I’ll just stay for now.
-I’m comfortable, but I’m bored to tears and not growing.
We often forget when we feel this way – no matter where we are in our careers – it’s a CHOICE. Maybe we stay because we’re afraid we can’t replace our income and if we do, it will negatively impact our families, or the commute is close to home (or we may even work from home), or we’re afraid to disappoint our team or boss or we’re not sure our skills are transferable to something new.
No matter what your reason, when you find yourself in career purgatory, you must decide between one of two strategies:
Stay and Grow or Leave and Go!
The question is, how do you know what option is best for you. Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself to help you decide what’s right for you:
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
Is the company’s culture and values aligned with your own?
Do you like and believe in your leadership?
Do you enjoy the people you work with?
Are you paid competitively?
Is there room for advancement?
If you answered YES to most of the above questions, I would suggest strategy #1:
Strategy #1: Stay and Grow
Start by talking to your boss (if they are a good leader -they will appreciate this) – and tell them where you’d like to grow, skills you’d like to develop and specific roles you think you’d like to learn more about. Suggest giving yourself 30 days to spend some time exploring and put a date on the calendar to come back together and discuss what you’ve learned and ask he/she to do the same.
Ask for 30 minutes on 5-10 people’s calendars, and ask them questions like:
-What is your day to day job look like today
-What does a typical week look like
-What do you love doing /dislike doing
-What frustrates you most
-What keeps you up at night
-What challenges lie ahead that they are trying to solve
-Who do they need great relationships with to be able to get their job done
-What is it like to work for ___________ or _____________.
Give yourself the time to evaluate multiple people’s points of views.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, one of the first people I called was my friend Al Cato who had just finished treatment for melanoma. He was much older (and wiser) than I was and I trusted his opinion. One of the best pieces of advice that I received from him was to meet at least three oncologists and get multiple opinions.
Anxious to get started on treatment, I gave myself the time to meet multiple doctors
I knew which one was the best for me but if I would have gone with the first doctor, I would likely be facing breast cancer again – because even though my doctor was one of the most respected breast oncologists in Atlanta, his treatment plan was not right for me.
So – take your time – and really evaluate your stay and grow options with multiple people doing the same job or if that is not possible, are part of the same group. Be careful not to listen with “happy ears” – but instead listen with intent and even record the conversations if possible so you can go back and review what each person said multiple times if needed.
If the answers to the questions you asked above are mostly NO, it’s likely time to explore strategy #2:
Strategy #2: Leave and Go
Let me start by saying this – not matter how scary leaving it – In the words of Rachel Hollis, YOU WERE MADE FOR MORE!
I say this all the time, but one of the biggest mistakes women make is to try to develop a network when they actually need one – like when you are ready to make a career move. If this is where you find yourself, this exercise may take you longer (60-90 days is realistic). And believe me, you are not alone. About 80% of the women I know in career transition find themselves with a limited or non-existent network (I’ll write more about this soon).
Whether you have a rich network of high powered people on speed dial or you are starting from scratch, we all start in the same place.
Start letting people know you are looking.
Start with your inner circle of close friends
Call your favorite recruiters who you’ve worked with before
Leverage relationships with friends, family, previous co-workers or members of organizations you below to.
Ask for help. Ask for introductions. Ask for connection to the people on their LinkedIn or Facebook. If this is “not you” and asking is uncomfortable or you don’t know where to start, here is an email below that you can use (or modify) for your liking to get you started:
SUBJECT: Need your help…small favor to ask (this subject line is GOLD!)
I hope this email finds you well. I have began thinking about making a career move and am interested in talking to a few people you are connected with on LinkedIn. My intent is to (select the one that fits best):
-talk to them about their companies or maybe the companies they have worked for in the past
-learn more about the role they are in as I’m interested in a similar role for my next step
If you could assist with a quick email to introduce me, I’ll take it from here and let you know how it goes.
Thanks in advance for your help!
ACTION TRUMPS OVERWHELM
I truly believe action is like kryptonite for overwhelm.
So just get moving – TODAY. And keep your mind focused on the outcome – being in a thriving career you love, in a company whose values are aligned with your own, doing work that makes you happy.
Timeblock your next steps – get 5+ meetings on the calendar this week with target people – and you will be one step closer to getting yourself OUT of purgatory. You deserve it!
Want to live your purpose and create a thriving career or business you love? Need more support and accountability to make it all happen? Hire Tricia as your coach: www.thrive-her.com/4sessions
Looking for your next speaker for your business resource group, conference or event? Email Tricia at [email protected]
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