Guiding Mid-career Professionals to Jobs They Love

3 Ways to Get Past, “I don’t know” and Find a New Career

Something new

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times. When I ask a new client, “What kind of work do you want to do next?” they almost always say, “I don’t know.” In my 12+ years of coaching, I’ve learned that “I don’t know” is often times a code for I know what I really want but …

So how can you turn “I don’t know” into an “I want to do XYZ” and start pursuing your new career? Start with these three steps:

1. Define Your Fears: Ask yourself what you are afraid of. Defining your fears around a change will help you lessen their grasp on you.

Are you afraid of losing your income, your clout? Are you afraid of what others will think if you leave your well-paying corporate job to start a company? Are you afraid of the new direction not measuring up to your hopes? Whatever the fears are – the first step is to capture as many of them as you can.

Then, one by one, ask yourself how likely the fear is from coming true. It’s likely that although some of the fears may possibly come true, they’re not probable. And then, consider what would happen if you stayed on your current career path. If you’re like many of my clients, they fear that the most!

2. Assess Your Beliefs: We hold many beliefs created over our lifetime that may no longer serve us. Is one of those beliefs holding you back without you even realizing it?

“I’m a loyal person, I can’t abandon my team”

“I’m not a risk taker – I could never start by own business.”

“If I make it to my next promotion then I’ll have proved myself and then I can quit.”

If you’ve ever uttered one of these statements or something like them, chances are you have some limiting beliefs that are holding you back. Similar with your fears, list our all your beliefs. Then think about where that belief came from in your past (hint – they usually come from our families and early life experiences). Then turn the belief around into one that will better serve you and where you want to go.

3. Start Connecting: Are you keeping your thoughts of changing careers to yourself? Are your thoughts taking hostage of your brain and growing in strengths? The best remedy is to start talking with trusted friends, family or a coach. Trying to make a change in isolation is harder than it needs to be. Talking with others will help you define your fears, assess your beliefs and think about things in new and different ways. And it’s likely that those around you will help you make the change you seek.

Honestly, the biggest problem with “I don’t know” is that it is so easy to get stuck behind it that we don’t even know that we’re stuck, let alone why. The next time you hear yourself utter – or even think – the words, “I don’t know,” stop for a moment and think about it. Do you truly not know? Or is it simply a complicated path of fears and beliefs between you and what you want? Stepping into a place where you can discover these answers is the first step to a new beginning.

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Phone: 617.398.6542