Is It Worth It? Focus On Your Goals To Navigate A Career Lull
Why am I doing this?
At some point in your career, you’ll ask yourself this question. It might be triggered by the pressure of relentless deadlines, or an executive who expects you to be available 24 hours a day, or a daily assignment that never sparks joy.
Early in my career, I worked as a consultant and taught a workshop called “Communication and Customer Care.” It provided significant revenue. It ran at least once a week, and sometimes I even booked back-to-back sessions in the same week.
Clients loved it. I hated it.
But when I found myself asking “Why am I doing this?” I had a clear answer. I was doing that work to create a new model of professional development for practitioners, and to create a lifestyle that offered the flexibility to have both a career and a family. I also was developing strong facilitation skills that I’ve leveraged in all the work I’ve done since.
In my book, Climbing the Spiral Staircase, I discuss the importance of anchoring your career identity in a sense of purpose. This is especially critical for women, whose confidence often falls during the period where we spend the most formative years of our career—the period that I call the “messy middle.” It’s in the messy middle that women often encounter unconscious bias, and where they may struggle to build networks of influence. They may even need to step away from their career to direct energy to caring for children or elderly parents instead of professional advancement.
A clear sense of purpose can be the best tool to navigate through this career lull. That purpose may be centered in actions that will equip you to satisfy your career values: moving into a leadership role, achieving success, building financial security. Or it may involve creating greater good by providing for others, developing a team, shaping a field of study, or positively impacting your community.
Holding fast to this purpose will help you move outside your comfort zone. It will help you face your fears and insecurities. It will ensure that you don’t get lost in seeking recognition and approval from others and instead are clearly moving with energy toward your unique goals.