Identifying a career direction

by 2 Sep, 2015Career Planning0 comments

Your career direction – how to decide

life decision career change, confused choice think leadership sign way new life, this that concept, signpost background this way future goal that way, illustration or options plan difficult roadsign route start success advice, aspiration bearing bewildered business which chaos control, disorganized frustration guidance logic, choosing lost marketing navigation opposite organised, right roadsign route signs thought uncertainty, unclear unsure wrong

As a career adviser and job search coach helping clients find answers to questions relating to their career direction, or identifying suitable jobs for them to do is in the top 2 or 3 reasons they seek my help.

And you know what……many people really struggle finding answers to this question.

In this post I’ll explore why this is difficult, and how to develop some clarity and purpose in determining a career direction.

I will outline a four step process. In my future posts on this topic I will explain in detail what is involved in each of the four steps, and provide you with information about tools and resources to complete each step.

Is career decision making more difficult for some people than others?

Deciding on a career direction, or job to target is especially difficult for:

  • People in established careers whose positions have been made redundant
  • Long term unemployed
  • University/College students
  • Women re-entering the workforce after time away for family
  • People nearing, or in retirement who want or need to work
  • People who are looking to buy a business, but don’t know what type

But, the problem is not limited to just these groups – it is a very common problem for people at all stages of life.

Signpost conceptWhy is this so difficult?

The reason so many people find this difficult is that they either have too many options to choose from, or….. they have only been able to identify perhaps one option, or none at all.

It is by no means unusual where I’ve had clients who are literally clueless about what to do with regards to a career path, or job.

What happens to people in this situation is they experience significant emotional turmoil, and often lots of unhelpful internal chatter. Clearly this is not a helpful state in which to make sound decisions.

In fact, and in worst cases some people literally become stuck! And……it is extremely frustrating and usually very stressful when this happens.

So, what can be done about it?

How to identify your career direction

There is a way. It involves some work, but the results are usually well worth the effort.

First of all I encourage them to follow a process, or if you like, complete these four steps:

  1. Step 1 – Self review and analysis
  2. Step 2 – Fully research options
  3. Step 3 – Decision making
  4. Step 4 – Action planning and taking action

Why having a career direction is so important

Having a direction, and goals and dreams in life and career is in my opinion like oxygen – you can’t live without them!

Having goals and dreams are the stuff that inspires us to get out of bed each day. These are our reasons for living.

The work we choose to do is usually the vehicle we have for making our goals and dreams become a reality.

Yet so many people I encounter are stuck in a rut, particularly with their work.  It’s a deep hole of their own making.

Sure, life can sometimes deal us some pretty horrible cards, but we always have a choice about how we respond to them.

Think about that word “choice” for the moment. Imagine what your life would be like if your ability to choose was taken away.

Another very significant advantage in having a direction for your career, and career goals, is that it makes your job search strategy crystal clear. You can develop laser like focus on the best way to find your ideal job, and ideal employer.

On the topic of choice, I just love this quote from Dr. Suess from “Oh, The Places You Go”:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go……


I’m taking my own advice!!

It has been several years since I last reviewed my career, and career life goals. So I’ve recently completed a lot of evaluation, review and new goal setting. And, I’m also using a mentor to assist me to develop the skills I need  which are of critical importance to my future.

How did this come about?

Basically I was confronted with something of a fork in the road:

  • Continue with the 40/40/40 plan – that is work forty hours a week for forty years, and retire on 40% of what I used to earn. Or……
  • Begin the transition into a new, more rewarding direction. This explains what I’ve decided to do.

Summary – deciding on a career direction

Career decision making can be difficult for many people.

However there is a process which can be used to develop some clarity of purpose.

And…..there are important benefits in following this process.

Now……some questions for you

I would love to hear about the challenges you might have faced with this subject.

  • What did you do?
  • Was it successful, and why?
  • Have you used a similar process? If so, did it help?
  • What more would you like to see on this topic?

Finally…….have a great day, regardless of how you have decided to use your time



Share This