Tag: careerindecision

#43 What is My Right Career Path?

March 12th, 2021 by

To switch jobs, industries, or go back to school … what’s the right career path? It’s no wonder you are plagued by this question. It promotes a cyclic path of thought errors because it’s the wrong question to be asking!

The Wrong Question

First, do not ask yourself, “What is my right career path?” Why not, you ask? Because it is not relevant. It is like asking, “What is the right child I’d like to have?” Many answers exist, yet you can always find resistance in those answers. And you might attempt to apply logic, data and evidence. Or you might resort to a decision matrix to help convince yourself you are making the ‘right’ choice. See Post #40 if you suffer from career indecision.

Secondly, this question is a closed-minded question. It presupposes there exists one right and many wrongs. I challenge you to rid this idea and get it out of your head. If a job is less than desirable, or if it did not turn out as expected, you didn’t lose. Learning is knowledge, even when it does not align with your desired outcomes. If you walked away from a job with newfound knowledge, it was worth it.

Let’s suppose you ask yourself different questions, questions that open your mind. For example:

  • I have an interest in A, B, C and D. What if I commit to pursuing a job in each area, one at a time?
  • If I get a job trying such-and-such, what is the absolute worst that might happen?
  • I’m interested in job Z, but if I never try it out, how would I ever know that I like it?
  • When I think about my future self in 2, 3, or 5 years, will I regret not trying __?
  • Isn’t it great to know what I don’t enjoy as much as it is to know what I do enjoy?
  • I can’t go wrong as long as I’m learning something new; trying job ABC will teach me __.

Failing Ahead of Time

There is a difference between someone performing a job ‘just because they can’ vs fulfilling their calling in life. In my experience, few people come to realize and engage in their calling. Do not be misled by the people who have been performing their jobs for years on end.

In fact, I would argue that careers are fluid, agile, always adapting and changing based on individual and business needs. One day your preferred title might be risk analyst, the next it could be marketing manager.

And I would caution you to be aware of the mindset trap that there is one ‘right’ career path. Several kinds of jobs could fall under the umbrella of being ‘right.’ And all of these ‘right’ jobs would create different ‘paths’ for you. Therefore, there is no such thing as the ‘right career path’. That is a self-limiting belief that might have you banging your head against a wall.

Keep your mind open, not closed. You must try different things to know what you like. It’s okay to do so, especially given today’s dynamic work environments. Every position will offer you new insights and knowledge – and that is something you will take wherever you go.

It’s just as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like.

If you never try, you are failing ahead of time. Failing ahead of time is easier and more comfortable than putting yourself out there, risking a new adventure. Open yourself up to the idea that careers are not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, rather, they all provide ample opportunities for growth, development and learning.

It is not the career itself that matters as much as the person you become while performing it. 

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#41 “I Hate My Engineering Job”

February 12th, 2021 by

“I hate my engineering job.” The results of this Google search were staggering to me. And according to an ASME article, engineering is the second loneliest profession (behind law).

This article is not the end all be all answer, because the answer is overly complicated and cannot be resolved in one blog post. However, as a recovering engineer myself, I can offer information to help neutralize the pain.

In the Trenches

Of course, I know there are engineers who ‘hate’ their current role. For crying out loud, that is a large reason why I started my coaching business in the first place!

But, the agonizing responses after searching “I hate my engineering job” served as a painful reminder of my past life as an engineer working in the trenches:

  • I just started as an electrical engineer for a consulting firm just over a month ago. At first I was ecstatic, because I got a job and now all of that hard work over the last four years to get the degree will finally pay off. However I just realized the other day that I hate my job.
  • This is such a cookie cutter job.
  • I don’t like my first engineering job and I want advice.
  • I’ve been an electrical engineer for 33 years and just left the profession 2 months ago. Technically, it’s an “early retirement” but quite frankly I just needed to get out.
  • In particular, I’m in agreement with it changing from engineering > management, now to engineers being yanked all over the place due to management / politics and finance.
  • My love of the profession and my hope that I would one day become like my heroes were gone. I wasn’t solving problems or coming up with creative solutions for customers and colleagues. I was pushing paper and, as a lead, using the lash of my tongue on others to achieve the same exacting standards.

There is not adequate time or space here to delve further into the endless pit of career horror stories. But, “I hate my engineering job” is a very real syndrome among the STEM population. Allow me to sum up the most common reasons I could find:

  • Boredom
  • Politics
  • Finance/business hierarchy
  • Loneliness
  • No impact/no pride
  • No autonomy/creativity

What’s an Engineer to Do?

For starters, here are a few things you need to know that I wish I had known back in the day.

First – Did you realize you are not alone? Engineers tend to (there are always exceptions) allow emotional career frustrations to linger and fester inside, which results in two obvious drawbacks. One, the pressure keeps building over time until you find an outlet. That outlet could spontaneously combust and turn out to be a major regret in life.

Next, you portray the image that nothing is wrong. That you’re just going about your business… that life is swell. And do you know why that is not a good idea? Because other people around you (either physically or on the socials), might be feeling the exact same way. Then, they believe they are the only ones feeling down and out about their jobs because the other engineers they know are putting on a show. It becomes a vicious cycle where all parties suffer in lonely silence.

Second – Did you know that you don’t have to bottle up negative feelings and live a pretentious life? Let me guess … you never learned this in engineering school, did you. They don’t teach us that it is natural and human to experience a wide spectrum of emotions in our careers. We have not been told that it can be stressful and unhealthy to suppress one of our most basic instincts as humans: expression. In fact, I would argue, based on personal experiences, that the STEM world discourages human expression. You are to get the data … do your job … don’t cause trouble … rinse and repeat.

Third – Did anyone tell you that there could be a large disconnect between academics and professional reality? Both worlds can offer feelings of pressure and pride, and both worlds can offer opportunities for growth and challenge. However, the circumstances under which these features are offered can be vastly different. Some engineers do directly apply academics to their jobs – note, this is typically a given assumption for most young engineers. After all, why would you bust your rear end in college to earn a job doing anything else?

The Inevitable

The sad truth, folks, is that many engineers do not require application of an engineering curriculum to be a successful engineer. Thus, you are left feeling bored, regret, hopeless, or worse. It’s no wonder you agonize over, “I hate my engineering job.”  You should know, you must know, that there is often a disconnect between industry and academics.

Engineering school doesn’t teach you how to be an engineer; rather, it teaches you the skill of how to learn in the context of engineering.

Now what? Where does this leave you? For one, you can let me know about your frustrations and dead-end attempts at engineering happiness by sending me a note – let’s chat about it. For an additional thought-provoking insight into career despair, see Post #25, “How Long Will You Suffer from Career Despair?”

Do you feel misled? Are you getting more brain-dead as time goes by? Send me a note and let me know how you are affected by this industry-academic disconnect.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!

#40 Do You Agonize Over Career Indecision?

January 29th, 2021 by

You can always find a reason to leave your current job, right? However, you consistently agonize over career indecision because, there exists an odd comfort about staying right where you are.

The Dilemma

To leave or not? If so, is it worth the jump – and how will you know?

These stifling questions are all too common for the professional who longs for something greater (See Post #10). If you’re not careful, you can agonize over career indecision indefinitely. And the agony can consume you. I’d like to offer the possibility that you don’t have to agonize and live in fear of making the wrong decision.

In general, there seem to be two reasons why people agonize over career indecision:

Situation 1: Too many options. Your career choices are numerous, attractive and you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). Each decision could be right and each could be wrong. It pains you to think about choosing only one, because you want to do them all!

The sky is your limit, and you feel suppressed by having to make one lonely choice of many desirable options. While people may tell you it’s a good problem to have, you still agonize over career indecision.

Situation 2: Too much risk. You cannot decide if the potential rewards of leaving will outweigh the risks. You have gained enough professional experience to know that the risks could be high. You may have to ‘prove yourself’ all over again, or ‘start over’ from the very bottom of the ladder.

On the other hand, it seems easier and convenient to stay right where you are. Why pack up and move to another location if the job isn’t worth it? But, you’re not happy where you are. You agonize over career indecision because you might make the wrong choice.

Right vs Wrong

Despite your reasons for career indecision, the good news is that the path towards a solution looks the same. Here are three critical points to keep in mind as you contemplate your future:

Point 1) Assess your reasons for working in the first place. If you are heavily focused on the benefits (salary, retirement, perks, etc.) then you will forever be chasing that wild goose. Rather, the purpose of work is threefold:

  • Service: Contribution toward something greater than you as an individual. Because as a collective, people make profound impacts as opposed to working solo. The next time you’re frustrated or wishing for more, think in terms of service: ask yourself how you can help others, how you can contribute, and how you can make those around you better.
  • Development: Evolve your skills, enhance your character, and progress your brain. The way to do this is by defeating obstacles, challenges, and road bumps. One way to defeat obstacles, challenges and road bumps is to go to work. How can you rise above the difficult coworkers or incompetent management and perform your best despite their intentions? And this, my friends, requires a lot. It requires you to be a mature emotional adult.
  • Legacy: Manipulate your authenticity, maximize your output, and make an impact. Another purpose of going to work is for you to unapologetically discover your authenticity and apply your strengths. Always leave a position and leave a company in better shape than you found it.

The great news about Point 1 is that you don’t have to rely on an employer to fulfill the purposes above. In fact, I recommend you pursue creative projects that will enable your brain activity to flourish, both in and outside of the workplace.

Point 2) What if your decisions are neither right nor wrong? Given point 1, you can make the ‘worst’ decision and still have much to gain. No matter the decision and the outcomes, you are still in a position of learning. And that’s what life is about. You may not know what it is you want until you actually commit to a decision. So, stop lollygagging, commit to a decision, and remember it is all about the learning process.

Which leads us to Point 3…

Point 3) The decision itself is much less important than who you become while executing! Hey, as long as you are learning, growing and challenging yourself in new ways, then you are doing the right things (whether employed or not). Comfort equals stagnation.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes I heard by a dear friend and fellow life coach Bridget Sampson: “Always be new at something.”

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn and subscribe to my Youtube channel for additional coaching insights!