“I Don't Know What Advice To Follow. Where Do I Start?”

Simon doesn't know where to start with his career change – and the different advice he's received is only making him more confused. When there's no clear path to follow, how can you ever feel confident you're on the right track?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a quality assurance manager for a household-name brand.

I've been in this company for about seven years. Before that, I had a brief stint as an analyst at a financial services company, but I moved quite quickly from that role because of a character clash with my manager.

I think I ran away from my initial career path to escape my boss, and never meant to stay so long.

But somehow, here I am!

How do you feel about your work?

I feel very distant from what I do.

It doesn't really seem to have anything to do with me.

I know that most people could fill my role, given the right training, and that's a bit demoralising, getting up every day to just carry out someone else's processes and systems.

All I'm expected to do is keep ticking the right boxes and hitting the right targets. It feels like a waste; I've got so much more to offer than that. But there's no space for me to experiment or drive things forward more, or to be more myself at work.

'Just do your job' is really the mentality, and that's not enough for me.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I don't know yet.

I know I want to have more autonomy in my work; although whether that means being my own boss or moving to a more senior role, I'm not sure.

I know I'd like some more creativity in what I do, and I'd like to do something where the results of my work are more quickly visible.

Beyond that, it's all a bit blank.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I don't mind not knowing what I want.

But I do mind not knowing what to do to find out what I want.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on what I should be doing. Every website I read, every person I talk to – they've all got a different angle on how I can work out what I really want, and all it's doing is confusing me.

Leave my current job and get something less pressured, to get some space to think. Stay where I am and get a coach. Do some psychometric testing, take a holiday, set up a little business on the side to build a financial cushion… Get a skills assessment, see a recruitment consultant, look on LinkedIn…

None of those things feel like they're the right starting point, but I don't have a better idea, so what do I do?

I don't know where to start, I don't know what advice to follow and what to ignore, and I really, really don't like not knowing what to do. I'm a process person – I don't do well fumbling in the dark.

I know there's probably no step-by-step process for this kind of question, but it would be great to have at least an idea that I can be reasonably sure of, instead of feeling like I'm floating around and clutching at straws.

How can I feel confident I'm on the right track?

Can you help Simon?

  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Simon could move his shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone he could talk to?

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