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6 reasons for career confusion

As a career coach I see many clients who have the presenting problem of career indecision and confusion. However, there are many underlying issues that often need unpacking. The six most common I see are:

1. Parental pressure

High parental expectations often exert a lot of pressure on children – from school aged to middle aged adults and beyond. Parents often want their child to follow a path of their choosing due to family tradition or making up for their own lost opportunities.

2. Lack of confidence

A lack of belief and confidence in themselves to choose their own path can be very debilitating.

3. Focussing on weaknesses not leveraging strengths

Many people think they need to focus on and improve their areas of weakness rather than identifying and leveraging their strengths. For example, I’ve spent a lot of time doing analysis and paying attention to detail at the expense of one of my top five strengths of creativity.

4. Wanting to make the perfect decision

Holding back from making a decision in case it’s wrong or there are regrets is common. No decision will ever be perfect. You just need to weigh up the pros and cons, do your research and at some point take a big breath and jump in. See where the opportunities will take you. You’ll never know until you try.

5. Financial responsibilities

Being a breadwinner with financial and family commitments is a very common reason not to make a change.

6. A lot of time and effort has been invested in their current career

Many people have worked hard and invested a lot of time and effort into their current career and gained much knowledge and expertise. That’s why it’s important to look closely at your current career for opportunities to remodel or refocus what you do.

Career storytelling

I like to start career coaching with a wide ranging interview talking in depth about the many aspects of your career and life in general and summarise it in a career report. This process helps to capture highs, lows, trends, patterns and themes and presents it back to the client. It is a snapshot of your life and career up until that point from an objective observer. Sometimes I get it wrong but there are many insights and reflections that can emerge. I also strongly encourage clients to do a strengths assessment (there’s a number I can recommend) to identify a client’s top five strengths and then reflect on if the findings feel right and how to use the results in future career decisions.

Fear of change is a key driver for many. The first step is the hardest.

Adapting to change

Without change survival would be impossible. You don’t have to like all aspects of change and often there are disadvantages or even teething problems with some change but there could be useful or interesting benefits as well. New opportunities may arise out of a change in employment, or a change in leadership, a change to technology in your organisation.

Stay flexible and avoid getting set in your ways. Try being open to new ideas and ways of working or living. They may not always work but they keep your mind open to suggestions and forming creative solutions or approaches to coping.

Adapting to change in business is paramount to success. Change and personal growth and development increase self confidence. Being in one’s own comfort zone can lead to some contentment for a while, but as time goes on you lose or don’t acquire abilities and skills and lose confidence and get out of touch.

Agile and change management

I recently worked within an Agile software development project managing the change for the business. What I experienced was chaos at times but also some great team collaboration and teamwork moments. Agile methods expect and embrace change which is driven by real-time requirements that emerge from the business. Quite different from  the hierarchical waterfall projects I have worked in previously. It’s not easy but it can be done.