That’s so normal.
What next move to take in your career is one of the most common conversations I have with clients. I get it because I had the same feelings throughout my career.
It first started when I worked at Arthur Andersen. There was a dilemma going on in my mind and I was inches away from quitting. And, surprisingly, the entire firm collapsed.
Then, when I worked in the Deals practice at PwC, my body was screaming at me to stop with the hectic pace. So much so, I developed a case of shingles across my forehead which felt like a hammer hitting my head.
When I returned from my very rare sick leave, I could see the fast pace and high expectations weren’t healthy for me. So, again, I was about to quit.
Suddenly, a three-month special project arose and I thought after it I’d quit. Well, that went on for years and eventually led me to helping with a setup of a new PwC company in India and taking the role of CFO. A complete shocker to my system.
The next career move was different because I had a set end date to my assignment. Most importantly, I changed and, slowly, a vision of something new began appearing in my mind.
Also, I’d been working with a coach who asked a lot of thought-provoking questions, and I started to self-coach myself. This radically changed my thinking.
All those times before, I knew something wasn’t a fit yet I had no idea what other direction to go. Totally in limbo. So I kept doing the same thing because it was familiar to me.
What put a halt to all of this was getting clear on what I valued and where I wished to go. And, a profound realization came of the deep dysfunctional nature of what I’d been doing.
By no means was this perfect.
Yet, I did finally have a heartfelt set of criteria of what my next career would look like. I could see it.
This criteria was gold for me because it allowed me to make major life decisions with things like my career with ease and clarity. Deeply knowing why I was doing what I was doing.
And, because of my spiritual practice, my unhealthy attachment to my work and achieving decreased considerably. (I can’t emphasize how fundamental this has been to my overall happiness and peace of mind).
If you feel in limbo too, here are a few tips to help you move forward calmly.
3 Tips for Overcoming the Career Limbo State
1. Slow Down and Reflect
Take your pace down to a slow walk. For a small moment in time, pause and let yourself settle. And, sit in that for a while even if it feels a bit unusual or uncomfortable. This will help you see what is actually happening around you. As it’s easy to see from my example, I kept doing the same thing over and over and over. It was clear what was going on.
Ask yourself some important questions. I’d encourage you to get a notebook out and start writing out some thoughtful responses to the following. Look through the eyes of wisdom not self-judgement.
How did you arrive at the point you are now? What’s worked well? What hasn’t worked? What’s been missing? Why do you do what you do? What are you proud of? What themes can you see? How does this work align with your deeper purpose in life? What is your deeper purpose? How do you envision yourself 5 years from now? What holds you back?
2. Get Clear on Your Values
You’d be surprised how easy it is to get clear on your values when you put some concentrated effort into it. You’ll wonder how you made a decision before without doing this.
Identify your top 8 core values and rank them in priority. Then, for the top three, consider how you’d know that you were expressing these in your career. What would you see, hear, and/or feel?
3. Set Heartfelt Criteria
In India, one of my big responsibilities was procurement. We’d always “shortlist” vendors based on agreed-upon set of criteria. If we can do that for buying chairs, it’s definitely worthwhile to do for major life decisions.
I can recommend a few that are generally common to most people which are that your career is aligned with your purpose/vision and values and has a positive impact on your close circle. Of course, there are also the normal go-to considerations of time commitment, financial requirements, and so forth.
Taking these three tips into consideration, you’ll feel far more confident and comfortable moving out of limbo toward that next career decision. And, your momentum will increase and it’ll be easier to take some initial steps.
Please remember though that there is no such thing as a perfect job, dream job, balanced work. It’s the mind it comes from that creates that environment. If you suffer from a high attachment to work for your happiness, there are many things you can do to relieve that stressful experience.
I’d love to hear which tip you feel you can put into action the easiest. And, I’m here if you’ve got questions because personally I had no clue of my purpose or vision until a few years ago. You would have caught me with a blank stare asking me that.
Enjoy the process.