How to Get Out of Your Career Rut

It’s never too late to ask yourself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

If you feel professionally stuck in your current position and think you’re on the wrong career path, it may be time to revisit your childhood dreams.

There’s no reason to remain in a career that is unsatisfying beyond the paycheck. And whether you’re early on in your career or close to retirement, there are simple steps you can take to shift the course of your career.

Ask: How did I get here? You have to know where you came from to know where you are going. Many people fall into a career because it’s what their parents wanted, was the first job they landed out of school, or it paid the highest salary. Identifying how you got stuck in your career will help you prevent making blind decisions in the future. While sometimes such external pushes can work out in your favor in terms of career direction, more often than not, they end in professional dissatisfaction.

Take a trip down memory lane. Revisit your childhood memories to find out what made you excited and what you dreamed about doing before the burden of earning a living became a reality. Identifying happy memoires can help you detect an underlying theme that could transfer into a happy career

Learn to adapt. If your dream was to grow up and be a teacher, but your current career has nothing to do with education, it’s understandable that you might feel that this exercise is a waste of time. However, you can redirect your career path by understanding why you wanted to be a teacher. Maybe it’s because you like being in charge or being an expert on a particular topic.

The truth is, you could be in the right company but in the wrong role. If this is the case, you might consider exploring new opportunities with your current employer or within your industry. Maybe you can parlay your experience into becoming a corporate trainer or secure a position that allows more leadership opportunities.

Look before you leap. No one is suggesting that you walk away from your current job or industry to pursue your childhood without a lot of consideration and evaluation. To help make the decision to try a new career, start networking to seek opportunities that align with your new career goals or look for volunteer opportunities to help give you a better sense of life in a new occupation.

If you still have no idea what to do with this information, allow some time for it to sink in before making a decion. This exercise might seem useless at first and the information might leave you more confused than you were before. However, if you stick with it, the answers will eventually become clear.

Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur™ Coach (on Twitter @occupreneur), is a certified professional coach based in New York. A Wall Street veteran, she specializes in Occupreneur™ coaching, strategy and crisis-consulting services for executives and organizations who strive to improve their businesses or careers.