When you thought you’d found your ideal career and it turns out to be a dud, how can you bounce back?

Change image courtesy of Phil Askew

Change image courtesy of Phil Askew

You’ve spent weeks and months exploring new career directions and have landed on one that has your name written in neon lights right across it!

It fits your life, your talents, makes a difference in the world and truly fascinates you. Finally!


The next step you take is to prototype the idea – you work shadow, or volunteer or take on part-time work to get a true sense of the job and whether this is THE ONE.


But the reality isn’t what you imagined at all and you discover that the pressures of the work are very different from what you’d hoped, the organization doesn’t live up to its stated values and the people are disillusioned and totally negative.


So what now?

You’re deflated and feel like you’ve hit a brick wall and you’re close to giving the whole idea of career change up for good and staying right where you are.


Stop right there!


Before you give up, you do still have choices. And you probably already know that change is hard - you know the theory, and this is what it feels in practice (refer to image at the top of this article!)


Firstly, there are a number of ways you can look at this:


1. It’s a failure, what a waste of time. I’m so disappointed and feel I’m back at square one.


2. I am disappointed because I thought the long search was over and now I find I have to carry on, or admit defeat.


3. How can I use this experience as a springboard to fuel the next steps on my road to a more fulfilling working life?


Which one are you going to choose?

Please say it’s number 3!


I know it’s hard because I’ve experienced the same thing myself – twice! On one occasion I let people around me talk me back into the work I was then doing because it was known, safe, would buy me more time and I wouldn’t have to put my dreams out there to be trampled on.


And when I got over that particular pouty huff knee-jerk reaction, after a few days I came back to myself and WHY it was so important to me to make this change. If you’re ready to re-group and carry on, read on!


What’s the reality?


Having made that experimental leap into a new career, you’re now in a different place from before. How can you make the most of what you’ve discovered? 


Try answering these questions:


·     What was the reality? Before writing it off entirely, create a list of pros and cons for the experience. Get it out of your whirling head and down in black and white


·     What have you learned – about yourself, what you want / don’t in your next career? Think about the work, the people, the organization – all the realities you experienced.


·     Are you being hard on yourself?  Don’t. Instead adopt the design-thinking mindset of reflect and pivot. Take what your learnt and use it to design the next possibility – treat it lightly


·     What is it you’re really seeking? Go back to your highest values and assess your recent experience through those lenses – which values were challenged? Which could be expressed? What do you need to be in place for your values to align with your work? 


·     How about purpose? What meaning do you want to see in your next career? What contribution do you want to make and what impact do you want to see from your efforts? Who do you want to impact?


·     How can you generate your next option to test out? Go back to your list of ideas – which one has most resonance? Rate them for fulfillment bearing in mind how they allow you to express your values, strengths, interests and what you love doing. Also follow your intuition. Which will you try next?


·     What do you need to help you move forward?



Take a deep breath and…


You guessed it! Get back into action.


If you’d welcome the chance to spend 30 minutes on a free coaching call with me, just drop me a line and we’ll get it straight in the diary. We’ll discuss your current situation and what will help you move forward

You could also download my free guide: 6 Inspiring Ways to Re-vitalise Your Career Change - which suggests over 40 ideas to help you make friends with your career change and get back into action.


Or perhaps you’d prefer to explore your career change in more depth?

A Career Clarity Call offers a deeper dive into your current situation and an agreed plan of action.


Other people might prefer to focus on their Values – when you know what matters most to you at this point in your life you have an invaluable measure to evaluate options against. Read about my Values Discovery sessions here.


Ready to give up your very own scatter-gun approach to career change?

And for anyone who’s had enough of going it alone in their very own scatter-gun approach to career change and would really like something more systematic (that works), take a look at my Quickstep Career Change Programme. You’ll emerge from the 6-step process with real clarity about what fulfillment means to you, how to generate and evaluate ideas, then create a strategy to make it happen – all within a coaching relationship. That means support to silencee your gremlins, manage your fears, brainstorm ideas, develop an intelligent strategy, strong tactics and keep the momentum going.


And trust me. If you’re unhappy in your current work but you’re tempted to give up hopes of something more rewarding because of this one setback, the chances are that in a few weeks you’ll be ready to give your careers dreams another outing. There are valid reasons why you’re feeling unfulfilled, and when you know what those reasons are, you can take action to create something that uses your talents and fills you with energy and happiness. 


Don’t give up! Aren’t fulfilment and a life well-lived worth it?


The career change journey.jpg

Where are you on this journey?

One step at a time…