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.
As you grapple with thoughts such as, “I’m not sure what I should do next”, or “I want a new job,” you may have considered hiring a career coach or a life coach. I will explain the main differences between my work as a life coach vs career coaching so you can decide which is best for your situation.
What is Life Coaching?
My function as an engineering life coach is to help professionals conduct a root cause analysis on their lives. I coach engineers through tough issues whether in the form of layoffs, career dissatisfaction, burnout, or simply feeling lost. Let’s dive into the two types of coaching so you can decide which is best for your situation.
The Life Coaching process is strategic and cognitive. It is applicable to you if you tell yourself:
I don’t know if I should go back to school, get a new job, get another cert, or start my own biz
I wish I weren’t so stressed all the time
I don’t have enough time for everything
As a life coach, I help you get to the root of your issues and problems so you can 1) understand their origin, 2) reframe your situation to a manageable state, 3) decide how to cognitively resolve your problems.
What is Career Coaching?
The Career Coaching process is tactical and operational. It is applicable to you if you tell yourself
I want to move to ABC location and find a job there
I want XYZ job title with a specific pool of companies
I would like help with my interviewing/negotiating skills
I’d like someone to hold me accountable in my job search
I’m quite sure I know which jobs I will pursue next
I’ve dominated my current position and therefore I’m ready to leave
I need someone to help me with my resume
I’d like someone to tell me what I need to do to secure a job
I want help with strengths-finders test results
A career coach is more appropriate for you if your goal is to be matched to your desired job, industry, or company.
The below is a comparison of the main differences between each type of coach.
A Career Coach Offers Tactical Steps Towards the Search for a Job
A Life Coach Offers Strategic Steps Towards the Search for Yourself
Refine your resume
Refine your mentality
External job search
Connect with industry
Connect with yourself
Plan your next career move
Plan your next life move
Negotiation and interview skills
Self-Confidence and emotional intelligence skills
Acts as accountability partner
Offers advice, suggestions, tips
Does not offer advice; leads you to discover answers for yourself
Matches you to an external (dream) job
Helps you create an internal dream life
Life Coach vs Career Coach
Last, I will state that as a life coach, the skills I teach are meta – they are applicable to any area of your life. Essentially, you learn the meta skill of emotional problem-solving and self-awareness, despite prevailing circumstances.
There certainly can be some overlap between life coach vs career coach. This blog explains the high level differences between the two. If you are interested in free life coaching to help with unresolved issues in your life, send me a note. Let’s chat!
Does your day-to-day involve constant boredom and everlasting daydreams? Admitting your dissatisfaction is the first step to making changes for the better. So, ask yourself: “How long have I been going through the motions at work, and why?”
What it Looks Like
Let’s first understand what it means to be going through the motions at work. For one, you most likely wake up dreading the day ahead. Upon arrival, you choose to put forth a satisfactory effort over a spectacular effort. Staring frantically at the clock as you desperately job search has become part of your daily ritual.
Second, when you are going through the motions at work, your effort is deliberately proportional to your salary and no more. The attitude you carry is, why should I do more if I don’t have to? If you perform your work in accordance with feeling unmotivated, resentful or worse, you are probably going through the motions. See Post #18.
The good news? Your professional life does not have to suffer this fate. There are myriad options when you find yourself going through the motions at work. Obvious choices include new employment, new certifications, college degrees or quitting and residing at your in-laws’ basement. Are you ready and willing to take those leaps? If so, make a commitment and go all in!
If no, I would like to offer an alternative. What if you could remain exactly where you are and be motivated to do your job? How would your world improve if you did not have to go through the motions? This powerful alternative is available to you because I understand what it takes to get you to that place. My specialty is to save you from your professional despondency.
What kind of price have you been paying by doing nothing?