Recently, while reviewing my collection of emails, I came across this question.
“Cathy, I’ve done a lot. But nothing really interests me anymore. The things that tempt me are not financially feasible right now, because one of the things I’d like to give up is working!”
This challenge is more common than most people realize. Clients call me when they’re physically and emotionally exhausted. Or they’ve experienced a series of challenges.
You leave one career and begin another. You experience a great burst of energy as your second career takes off. And then your exciting new career goes away. Or you realize your dream was not at all what you anticipated. And now you want to duck the whole experience and go run off to a desert island.
That’s one solution.
Or here are 7 things you can do instead.
1. Stop trying to crash someone else’s career party.
Often you’re tired because you’ve been following someone else’s dream. Or you’re trying to succeed in a career you have outgrown. Or the world has changed and opportunities have shifted.
Why keep pounding on closed doors? Think of creating yourself as a person who will collect all sorts of exciting invitations. Then doors will open as soon as you knock gently.
2. Reach out for more opportunities to do what you enjoy.
When you are having fun, you come across as enthusiastic and successful. As a result, you will generate unexpected connections. Most career change (and a surprising number of new business opportunities)come about through serendipity: you find your Big Break while searching for something else.
For example, I began writing book reviews for amazon.com just for my own amusement. At first my reviews seemed to generate only intangible rewards: satisfaction, letters from authors, invitations to connect.
Then one day a UPS truck delivered a box of best sellers from a major publisher. Now I get books, clients, media interviews, website visitors and more…all from an activity I started purely for fun.
3. Find something to enjoy every day, even something as simple as walking the dog (well, that’s not always so simple).
You’ll be creating a foundation that you can use to build a new career or business. Enjoyment (or frustration) can be habit-forming. Don’t worry about solving your career challenge. Just enjoy.
4. Share your career frustrations only with knowledgeable sources who will keep your questions confidential.
You will tend to get the most help when you appear to have everything you want. Opening up to the wrong person can kill a potentially lucrative opportunity.
Anyway, there are all sorts of career myths floating around. I’m always amazed how many urban legends keep circulating about careers.
5. Keep learning and growing.
Attend professional meetings, classes, and informal networking opportunities. You’ll keep your mind active — essential because your next adventure will probably have a learning curve. And it’s hard to stay bored and frustrated when you’re learning new things every day.
6. Keep moving.
It’s tempting to hide when you’re not sure what you want to do, but action leads to creative problem-solving. Almost anything is better than sitting on the couch for 6 months.
7. Remember that most people don’t follow a linear path as they move to their second (or third or fourth) careers.
They take two steps forward and one step back. They zig and they zag.
A true story: One man literally fell into his career. As a teenager, he fell off a church balcony and landed on the organ. He ended up becoming friends with the repair specialist and eventually served an apprenticeship. Eventually he had his own successful organ repair business, dominating his region in this highly niched service.
This example may seem extreme. But research shows that nearly everyone with a happy, successful career has arrived by a winding road and at least one chance encounter.
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