How to figure out what you want next in your career

Knowing what you want next in your career can be a daunting task. Whether you’re starting out or you’ve been in the same role for years, it’s important to take the time to reflect on your goals and aspirations.

How to Figure Out What You Want Next in Your Career.
How to figure out what you want next in your career

By Sushma Sharma

The desire to progress and grow is an innate trait in humans that pushes them to achieve bigger and better things in life. For some, the drive to move forward is motivated by a sense of restlessness or dissatisfaction with the current situation while for others, the impetus to seek out the next step in their career may be more practical in nature, like seeking better pay or benefits. Whatever the reasons may be, figuring out what you want next in your career requires courage, commitment, and a willingness to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. 

Whether you are contemplating a complete career spin-off or reinventing your current role, one thing that needs to be understood is that your career is a journey, and all your decisions are going to create milestones in that journey.

Why is taking the next step in your career crucial?

Do you remember a time when you were so engrossed in something you loved doing that you lost track of time? Maybe it was playing an instrument, baking, or playing music. Whatever it was, you were completely absorbed in the activity and felt a deep sense of fulfilment and joy. Now imagine feeling that same level of passion and joy in your career. While at the initial stage of your career, most of us feel this passionate love towards our career, however, with time, this passionate feeling might fade away, and that’s completely normal. According to a survey conducted by ClearCompany, 74% of employees feel that they are not reaching their full potential in their current roles. At some point in your career, you may find yourself feeling stagnant and uncertain about what you want next. This feeling is normal and can be a great opportunity to reassess your career goals and make a plan to achieve them. 

Knowing what you want next in your career can be a daunting task. Whether you’re starting out or you’ve been in the same role for years, it’s important to take the time to reflect on your goals and aspirations. We will arrive at our next natural step when we converge on our intellectual and emotional clarity. When both are aligned, then the objective becomes clear and alive. Most of the time, the decisions taken in a career are irreversible. Hence, decisions need to be taken from a space of intellectual and emotional clarity. 

Skill development: One of the main reasons for feeling stagnant in a career is a lack of skill development. In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving job market, it’s essential to keep learning and updating your skills to stay relevant. Upskilling and reskilling by taking courses, attending workshops or seminars, and reading industry-related material can enhance your knowledge and expertise, and help you figure out what to do next. 

Embrace change: The fear of change can hold you back from achieving your professional goals. In today’s rapidly changing environment, it’s important to be adaptable and open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Learn to embrace change and view it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Clear career goals: Without clear goals, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and lose motivation. To overcome career stagnation, set clear and achievable goals. Self-discovery is a critical aspect of setting clear career goals. The better you know yourself, the clearer your career goals will be. Taking the time to reflect on your values, interests, strengths, and weaknesses can help you identify what you want to achieve in your professional life. This process can also help you understand what motivates you and what type of work aligns with your values and interests.

How to figure out the next steps in your career?

First and foremost, one needs to understand the need for progress. By advancing in your career, you can enhance your financial stability, increase job satisfaction, and broaden your skill set. By being aware of what you’re looking for and going in search of it, you can redefine your career success story. 

Define your purpose

Broadly, the purpose of a career is financial stability. However, there are many other underlying factors that influence one’s career choices – environment, growth, stability, opportunities, and more. Defining the purpose of your work life may seem daunting, but it is a crucial step toward a fulfilling and meaningful career. At its essence, purpose involves two key elements: identifying the group of people you want to serve and empower, and determining the methods by which you will do so. Fortunately, discovering your driving purpose need not be a complicated process. A useful starting point can be reflecting on moments when you felt invigorated and proud of the work you were doing, despite the fact that the project was far from completion. Such experiences often occur when you are fully aligned with the mission and values of the work you are undertaking, resulting in a state of seamless flow. Identifying your purpose can enable you to move towards a career that is both rewarding and meaningful. Personality tests can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, which can give you a broader perspective towards your purpose. By understanding your personality type, you can identify the skills and abilities that come naturally to you, allowing you to focus on honing those skills. 

Define whom you are working with

The people we work with have a significant impact on our personal and professional growth potential, yet this is often overlooked. The individuals on your immediate team can shape the expertise you acquire, the leadership qualities you adopt, and the growth experiences you encounter. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek out teams of individuals whom you not only enjoy working with but also those who align with your personal values and bring out the best in you. It’s essential to determine whether you are motivated by a competitive or collaborative team. If your current team doesn’t align with your ideals, consider seeking out mentors and collaborations within the larger organization, in your community, or through online communities. It may not be a cakewalk to choose the people you work with, but it is possible to establish connections with those who can elevate your career to new heights. 

Define your pace!

The ideal pace for your career is determined by your goals and personal circumstances, and it’s important to recognize that your ideal role may evolve over time. Frustration can arise when professional and personal demands are not in sync, so it’s essential to find the right balance. A 2021 McKinsey study reports that employees often quit because they don’t feel valued. It’s crucial to remember that the difference between burnout and fulfillment is typically not in the tasks, but in the meaning behind the efforts and the alignment of performance expectations. By taking the time to reflect on your desired pace and aligning it with your personal and professional goals, you can find a fulfilling career path that energizes and inspires you. So be intentional and deliberate in crafting your career journey, and strive for a pace that maximizes your potential while also supporting your personal well-being.

The author is director-career success strategy of Veative Group.Views are personal.

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First published on: 15-04-2023 at 13:00 IST