Career Success Story: Ambivalence to Ambition

Maria (not her real name) was feeling conflicted. Part of her was ready to move on from her non-profit job, but another part wasn’t so sure about leaving – or what she would do instead. She came to me to get some clarity and figure out what she really wanted from the next stage of her professional life.

First Things First: Clear up What’s Keeping You Stuck

Maria’s mixed feelings told me that before we looked to a potential future, she needed to get clear on her current situation. Even though she was feeling burnt-out and frustrated, her job gave her a strong community and a positive sense of identity. My first step was help her see that she could have both of those things independently of her job.

In our first session, we looked at ways that she could maintain her community outside of the office. She remembered times that she’d stayed connected in the past with other groups, which helped her feel confident that she could do it again. She even started strategizing future ways to keep in touch once she’d moved on.

As for Maria’s sense of identity and worth, she realized as we talked that linking them to her position or job performance was actually harming her ability to see other options and take setbacks in stride. Her extreme investment in job-as-identity (a common situation for my clients) was directly contributing to her frustration and paralysis. I challenged her to practice letting go of disappointing outcomes at work, which helped her stay more engaged day-to-day and freed up energy to start exploring other options.

Next: Look to Your Past to Determine Your Future

We started her career exploration by examining her past and present employment experiences (a similar process to the one in my free Career Detective Workbook) to gather clues about her preferred skills and work environment. By looking at them holistically, it was easy to identify themes and chart out some broad areas to explore. Once we cleared all the other mind clutter out of the way, she knew what she wanted to do.

Maria did move on from her old job. She started a part-time job to pay the bills while exploring other opportunities in her community and saving up for a professional training program. She was working towards her “dream job” (now that she knew what it was!) and feeling optimistic and excited about the future. I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!

Are you clear on your next steps?

Clients like Maria are proof that change is possible, but it can be hard if you don’t know where to start. Sign up for a free career strategy call with me and I’ll help you get clear on what’s keeping you stuck and how to move forward.

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