Oh, you don’t know? You aren’t alone. Do you feel silly asking yourself this elementary question as an adult? Don’t feel bad, a lot of us have asked ourselves the same thing. Do you feel like you’re in a career rut, a stagnant position, just straight up stuck? Really, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Many moms reach this fork in the road as their babies grow and slowly transition to independent children. As the little ones need less attention, some moms start to feel a void and want to put the focus back on themselves to advance. And they look up and feel a bit stuck, like their time raising kids kept them from making career moves. They look up and they are at a fork in the road, with not just 2 paths to choose from, but so many that the thought is a bit paralyzing. You don’t know what you want to do. You’re good at a lot of things but have no specific focus. And trying to figure it all out just takes too much energy. Have you ever felt like this?
Many of us at least have some idea of what we want to be. But the thought of choosing what’s behind door number 1, door number 2, and so on can be scary and unsettling when we have a family to provide for. The fear of the unknown can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever. We are all able to move closer to our purpose, but it requires a willingness to do so. Motivation and action are key to uncovering a career path that will bring fulfillment.
10 ways to get you closer to what you want to be when you grow up:
- Do not be complacent. Complacency strips your power and makes you numb. It feels like it’s slowly killing off your brain cells. Sometimes the sheer idea of moving sideways, up, or beyond feels overwhelming. We may as well just stick with what we know. The problem with being stuck is, 1) it’s not true because we aren’t stuck and 2) we can all aim to grow. You are not a tree and you are never “stuck.” You may not have all the answers right now but commit to finding them. Motivation and drive are the starting points of greatness.
- Figure out your talents. Everyone has a talent, or at least something we are really good at. Are you a people-person? Are you good at organizing? Or perhaps you like to zone in on numbers? Sometimes it doesn’t exactly translate into a perfect career idea, but I find that when you keep your eye on your talent and passion, you get that much closer to finding a better fit.
- Engage in some soul-searching. Think, reflect, pray… whatever you do to connect to your inner-self. Don’t sleep on your intuition, there is a reason why we have it. Do you have a nagging feeling? Do you feel a magnetic pull to a specific area? There may be a reason for that force. Don’t ignore it.
- Talk to people. The more you talk, the more you will learn about yourself. Conversation triggers thoughts about what we like and dislike, and where we yearn to be. Have you ever started talking to someone about your problem, and then halfway into your monologue a light-bulb turns on and you figure out the answer? Engaging in dialogue makes you think and pulls you deeper into your true desires. Also, someone once told me that when you are looking for a job, tell everyone you know. You never know when someone may have an idea you never thought about or pass along an opportunity.
- Just MOVE! Up, down, left, right. Any direction will do. Many times we spend so much time contemplating, thinking, and planning that we actually stay in one place. We get stuck back at #1. When people ask for advice, I tell everyone, just start moving and tweak your plan along the way. The only way to accelerate is to first take your foot off the break. It’s easier to shift gears than to build up the courage to start again. So, get up and go!
- Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall. Something will stick…eventually. You may not get it right the first time because very rarely is a first career move the last. Try some things on, take them back, find another style. Something will eventually work! And in the meantime, you will meet amazing people, find priceless opportunities and learn more about yourself. Each prospect elimination puts you that much closer to your purpose.
- Further your education. It’s never too late to learn more, or receive the degree(s) you need to advance. There are some benefits of going back to school when you are older and wiser. You’re more focused now, time is of the essence, you’re older and better at time management… just to name a few. If you need another certificate or degree, do it now! Education is power. A quest for knowledge never expires.
- Look beyond your comfort zone. Tired of not finding the answer? You may be only looking in your tiny little square. Stepping out of your zone will encourage growth and open your pathways. Instead of 3 doors you may find 8. Instead of 10 prospects you see 30.
- Reach high. And then a little bit higher. Many studies show that women are more likely to consider jobs in their comfort zone. Roles we know we can handle and excel in due to our experience. Job positions we are less likely to be rejected for because we are a great fit. Men, on the other hand, often reach for jobs way beyond their qualifications and consider positions based on their potential. Experience vs. potential. And guess what? Men often get these jobs and grow into the roles, while many women remain stagnant. Failing to reach high enough sometimes stunts our growth. It’s okay to lean more on our potential and shoot for the stars. It begins with confidence in our abilities to grow, accelerate and lead.
- Flaunt your amazing credentials. Remember? You’re a mom! You already know how to multitask, organize, diffuse situations, meet deadlines, and manage people (well at least little people.) Many of these skills are transferable. Now I’m not saying to put them on your resume, but remember that you’re coming to the table loaded with skills. Do not sell yourself short.