Last year I had a career crisis.
At the ripe old age of 25, I was trapped on a career trajectory heading at breakneck speed in the wrong direction. I felt totally stuck and completely helpless.
These emotions were pretty unlike me. Growing up, I loved school and was always doing a million things – whether it was hobbies, volunteering, part time work or hanging out with my friends.
After a period that can only be described as wallowing in my self-pity, I realised it was time to make a change. It was time to get my life back on track: I started blogging, meeting new people and learning as much as possible to overcome my career crisis.
When people heard about my journey, one of the first things they would say to me is that they have “absolutely no idea” what they want to do with their life. Or they questioned what they could do about it anyway, given their place at the bottom of the corporate ladder.
Here is what I have learned: you don’t have to wait until you are at the top of your game to start actively progressing and promoting your career.
Here’s how I was able to start to transition from a junior lawyer, going through the motions, to taking charge of my career – and finding a reason to jump out of bed in the morning.
- Focus on your brand. Strong personal brands are not just for CEOs. In fact, if you don’t define your own brand, chances are other people will do it for you. Check out some people that you admire and take the time to study them. Then think about what do you want to be known for? Try and sum it up in a page so its clear in your mind, then get to work to ensure that you are delivering this both on and offline.
- Build your tribe by finding opportunities to connect with likeminded individuals. Set aside some time to search for events in your area – like those offered by Naked Ambition, General Assembly, the League of Extraordinary Women or one of hundreds of meet ups happening these days. Don’t limit yourself to events in your own industry –some of the best conversations that I have had are when I am the odd one out.
- Think of ways you can be an intrapreneur. Don’t have your own business? Don’t let that stop you! Focus on ways that you can add additional value to your role. If you have a great idea, share it and collaborate with your team. Don’t underestimate the power of feeling like you are driving your own career, whether that is in your own business or a much larger organisation.
- Don’t sell yourself short! Most of us are guilty of this, particularly at the start of our careers. Consider “reverse mentoring” as a way to share your expertise with senior staff at your work. Maybe explain the benefits of social media, and give them a few handy hints on their LinkedIn profile. You never know what advice or opportunities you might receive in return.
- Finally, get started! Stop thinking “what if” and worrying if what you are doing is one hundred percent right. In all honesty, the first thing you try probably won’t be the key to the rest of your life: but you never know what opportunities it may lead to. Don’t know where to begin? I have been doing a 50 coffees project for the last nine months and it’s a great place to start!
Good luck! And just incase you are wondering, these days I am one hundred times happier, have met some amazing people, and feeling inspired again… and just about to get stuck into a shiny new career.
Finally, don’t forget that “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.
Check out Phoebe’s blog Making It Up