Are You Climbing the Wrong Ladder? Reevaluating Your Career Path at any Stage.

I love asking my nieces and nephews, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I get responses that include everything from art teacher to astronaut! It’s amazing hearing the excitement and creativity behind every answer but my favorite part is re-asking that same question every year or so because their answers change so frequently.

When we are growing up the world seems so full of possibility and when we think about our future career, there is that hunger and excitement to find something that we truly love!
What answer would you have given as a five year old? What about at age twelve or sixteen? How about right now? Chances are your answer evolved over time, just like you did as a person.

The truth is that as we grow in our careers, we build on our wisdom, confidence and perspective and those things can fundamentally change us. We are meant to evolve our entire lives, not just as children. So why is it that, as adults, it’s so common to feel stuck in one career path? Especially when something else may be calling our name?

When was the last time you asked yourself, “Am I climbing the wrong ladder?”

Here’s what this might sound like:

  • Does the trajectory I’m on support the career I really want?
  • Does the career I have support the life I want?
  • Does the answer to these questions sit well with me?

If you answered “no” to one of more of these questions it may be a sign that you’re climbing the wrong ladder! Do you really want to move up in your current career path or move to something new entirely? It’s easy to get up and go to work every day without taking inventory of your needs and how your career plays into them, but it makes a world of difference when you do. Your answers matter!

If you are faced with the reality that it may be time for a change but you aren’t exactly sure what to do next here are a few questions to think on:

  • What are you really good at/what do you enjoy doing?
  • What are you genuinely looking for in a career?
  • What lifestyle do you want your career to support?

All of these are important but especially the last one because too often it’s overlooked. If your current career doesn’t allow you the schedule, flexibility, purpose or income you want, take those things into consideration as you begin looking for your new ladder.

Is changing career paths scary? Absolutely, but remember that Lewis Carroll once said, “In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” Risk taking is a skill that you have to push yourself into sometimes to learn and get better. Maybe that journey of hopping from your current ladder onto the next one feels frightening, but think about how much more frightening it is to look back and realize you didn’t take the risk that could have paid off in the end.

When you challenge yourself to answer questions honestly about your current career and your feelings around it, you may discover something you didn’t know you were after. Don’t keep climbing the current ladder you’re on  just to wind up on top of the wrong building! Bet on yourself and take that first step towards a new path.

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