“Am I really stuck doing this for the next 20 or 25 years?”
That was the question I asked myself 5 years ago. I was in my early 40s and had been working for 20 years at the time: working for almost half of my life! I also realized that I probably wasn’t even quite halfway through my working life. Not the way that pensionable ages keep creeping up, anyway.
I realized that I could probably continue working as I was for another 5 years, but not 20 or 25 years. Luckily, I sought advice and made some changes, if not I may still be where I was today. And probably increasingly unfulfilled and disengaged.
So, how about you? Can you see yourself doing what you do until you retire? For the next 20 or 25 years! Or are you open to at least exploring other options?
How did I get stuck?
I never really planned to become an accountant. It just seemed to conveniently tick many of my boxes at the time. I was in my final year of uni when I learned about auditing and how it could be a great route to get some valuable professional training and a foot in the door.
I was looking for a few things back then:
– a career
– an entry point into the business
– opportunities to learn and grow
– financial security – something I hadn’t had much of
– something that women can do alongside children (if I ever got that far)
And people will always need accountants, right?
So, I found a training contract and became a chartered accountant – duly passing my exams and fulfilling the various training needs.
I actually quite enjoyed the work. It certainly helped to fulfill the needs I listed above, and I liked many of the other people I met along the way. This particular career path ended up serving me well for much longer than I ever expected.
Roll on 20 years, in fact, and I was still an accountant.
But my initial requirements, once satisfied, had become less important to me over time. They’d been replaced by other things that were more important to me, such as wanting to make a bigger difference in the world and enjoying greater autonomy over my work.
Ultimately the balance tipped too far and I woke up. Did I really want to do this for the next 20 or 25 years? I did not.
As much as I didn’t dislike anything about my situation, I wasn’t passionate about it either. And I was passionate about so many other things I’d discovered along the way. My focus had changed within my work too. I was much more interested in people than numbers.
That’s OK. Our focus and priorities may change, and our careers can too. We should never feel stuck in a situation that is no longer serving us. Life is simply too short and too precious for that.
How did I get unstuck?
At first, I did some soul-searching on my own. I’m a fiercely independent person, so I believed I should be able to sort this out myself. I read some books, went on some courses – and did all the exercises etc. I got much clearer on what I didn’t want, but no clearer on what I actually did want. If I was going to make a change, it had to be for the right reasons.
And then I discovered coaching.
Now, possibly like you, I’d been on a coaching course at work, and I believed that I practiced coaching in my interactions with my team. In all honesty, I was probably being more directive than I thought.
But at this critical point, I experienced some proper coaching and found it to be extremely powerful. This wasn’t from my manager or a peer in a training course. This was a proper coach, someone who l respected and felt inspired by. What more, I felt really engaged in this process because I was using some of my hard-earned cash to invest in myself and my future.
Firstly, I discovered my why, my purpose.
Secondly, I learned that coaching could well be a useful vehicle to help me to achieve it.
Now this didn’t happen in one coaching session. Coaching is extremely powerful and can be life-changing, but it’s not magic. Through coaching I became open to and aware of possibilities open to me and in a better place myself to be able to step up and undertake them.
Roll forward the clock 5 years and I now help others see their own options and to discover their own purpose.
I always wonder what would have happened if I’d received coaching through work, rather than seeking it myself. Would I be where I am now? Or would I have stepped up to the next level at work?! I’ll never know now, but it certainly was an option at the time.
I hope my story resonates with you, even just a little bit.
How can you get unstuck?
When we’re feeling stuck, it’s often because we cannot see other options.
Often we’re simply not aware of them. Sometimes they’re hidden. We may even have discounted them before finding out more.
We often feel like the only valid option is to stick with what we’ve got. No matter how it may now be serving us.
We can grin and bear it. Battle on through. Only another 20 or 25 years to go!
One of my personal missions is to help people see that they always have options. Sometimes I help them to lift up the carpet or shine a light to reveal them. Sometimes I help them to look properly in the mirror to see what others see in them, what they may not be able to see themselves.
But we all have options.
Don’t believe for one moment that you are unique in this situation. That you are any different or alone. You’ve simply not discovered your options yet.
So, are you really content to be stuck for the next 20 or 25 years?
Or do you want to at least take a look at how your options could look?
Book your complimentary Career discussion to learn more.
You can also do solo learning by taking my online courses on Essential Skills to help your career grow as a professional.
Thanks for reading. Check out other Blue Diamond articles to help you take control of your work and life.