Written by Joanna Platt
When your job is less than satisfying, the underwhelm is really overwhelming.
“Where am I going? What am I doing? Where am I going? What am I doing?” was the cadence running through my mind.
Another common question: “What should I do with my life?”
We try to figure it out. We believe that if we work hard enough at it, think long enough about it, we’ll come up with a new master plan. We’ll find work that makes us come alive. We’ll find our niche.
This seems to make sense but quickly begins to feel like a huge struggle and a serious scramble. But what other option is there? We have to figure it out. We can’t not have a plan.
But actually, I think that’s exactly what you have to do. You have to ease up a little bit on the searching on the figure-outing so that your niche can find you.
How the heck do you do that? Isn’t that a little passive?
I agree that it’s unlikely that you can be passive about your career path and still have a meaningful one, but I think there’s a less aggressive approach. I believe that if you show up, do the work, do good work, reflect on what you do and don’t love about your current role, focus on what you enjoy, and speak about it, a new niche can find you.
So, since we do all love a plan/road map here’s how to help your niche find you:
1. Show up, do good work
Right now, in your current job, show up every day and do really good work. Be reliable. Be creative. Put thought and care into what you do. If nothing else, this will build your reputation as someone who is great to work with. Reputation is invaluable. Even if what you’re currently doing has absolutely nothing to do with what you think you’ll do someday, you can build a reputation as someone who does what they say they’re going to do and does it well.
2. Reflect on what you do and don’t love about your current role (but focus on what you enjoy)
As you’re showing up every day and doing good work, think about what you like about your current role. What are your favorite parts? What tasks are the most engaging? What is it about that task that is so engaging? What don’t you love as much?
Focus on what you do like. Keep doing that. Ask for more projects doing that thing. Develop your skills in that area. And when you speak about your work, focus on that parts that you really enjoy - that light you up.
When you go to look for your next job, choose one that spends more time doing what you enjoy about your job and a little bit less of what you don’t like.
3. Speak about it
Talk to people about what you love about your work. Talk to colleagues, talk to friends, talk to strangers. This will help you bounce ideas off of other people and help you refine what exactly you’re looking for. There are so many jobs out there that you don’t even know exist until someone tells you about it.
4. Be open and trust the process
This may sound woo-woo but I think many people who have careers they love and who do meaningful work experienced a little magic from the universe along the way. This could show up as meeting the right person at the right time, having someone say something to you (good or bad) that causes you to look at something or explore something you wouldn’t have otherwise.
You’re not the only one working on this problem. Your subconscious is on it. The universe is on it. The people you speak to in step 3 are on it.
Wow, in writing this I can feel the anxiety of my 23 year old self. But, this is what worked for me and I trust it can work for you too.
P.S. You don’t have to think about your career every single second. Step away from the problem. Go play with your friends. Enjoy your twenties.
P.P.S I think this all applies very well to dating too.
***If you’re feeling really overwhelmed about not knowing what you want to do, it might be helpful to talk to a coach. Helping people find work they love and are excited about is one of my favorite things to coach people around. You can learn more about me and my coaching style at www.joanna-platt.com. Kristen and Rachel at Clarity on Fire are really good at this type of coaching too. You can learn more about them at www.clarityonfire.com.