What To Do When You Take a Wrong Turn in Your Career
Sometimes you end up somewhere that just doesn't feel right. These three tips will help you course correct in a way that is more true to your values.
If there's one thing I know about your career, it's this: At some point, you're going to take a wrong turn. We all do, and it's a part of learning and growing.
Whether you're an employee or a business owner, you might find yourself in the wrong job or hiring a person who isn't a good fit. Maybe you're experiencing this right now and need to make a big change.
Over the course of my career, I've gone from corporate to small business owner to entrepreneur. Preceding each change was a feeling that either I wasn't quite where I wanted to be or an opportunity presented itself that I wanted to take advantage of.
You never take a path thinking it's a wrong turn, but then the further you go, you get a sense that this isn't where you'd like to be or something doesn't feel right. So maybe "wrong" is a bit too harsh of a word. Life is complicated, so it's rarely a choice between right and wrong. But it's wrong for you at the time, and that is what matters.
How do you course correct when you make a wrong turn? What do you do when you have a gnawing feeling that something isn't quite right? Here are three tips to help set you on a better path:
1. Devote Time to Processing the Issue
The key here is to devote the time. In my case, I've worked with executive coaches--as well as a test called the Birkman Method--in addition to other coaching tools.
This helped me to better understand my reactions and then to figure out a solution for problems I was facing. Each week, the appointment was on the calendar with the coach helped me to allot the right amount of time putting in the work.
In her book, Rising Strong, Brene Brown calls this "the rumble" (helpful summary here). The book details the process of how to get back up after you've been kicked down, but there are applications to many times in life when we simply need to rise again.
"The rumble begins with turning up our curiosity level and becoming aware of the story we're telling ourselves about our hurt, anger, frustration, or pain," Brown writes.
Becoming aware of the feelings and the story you're telling yourself is important, but you absolutely need to make the time to do it. This can be by having an ongoing conversation with a trusted friend or loved one. Or even just taking the time to journal regularly.
2. Pay Attention to What Feels Out of Balance
I like to think of work-life balance in terms of harmony. Sometimes you devote more time to work, sometimes you put more time into relationships at home.
You don't have to give equally to all the things that are important to you all the time. But if you neglect one area of your life for too long, something is sure to feel off.
When you get that feeling, it's time to start paying attention and observing yourself. Is the way you spend your time aligning with your values? Are you taking actions to be the person you want to become? And if not, why not?
Questions like these will help you identify what doesn't feel quite right.
3. Take Action
Earlier in my career, I left a job just one year after getting a major promotion. While it was a huge accomplishment, it made me realize there were different things I want to accomplish.
Armed with better self-knowledge and more of an understanding of what I wanted out of life and what was important to me, I started my own accounting practice. I started down a path to help reinvent my approach to work and productivity so that it didn't overwhelm my life.
It's important to have your thoughts direct your actions, but at the end of the day, you do have to take action. You're never going to think yourself out of a wrong turn. You have to take the steps to alter your course.
Finally, remember wrong turns are inevitable. While they present some difficulty, the work you have to do to get on a better course for you will ultimately set you on a more authentic path.
This post was originally published on Inc.com on April 14, 2017.