“How Do I Find A Career That Makes Me Want To Commit Long-term?”

Megan’s ready to give everything for a career that lights her up.  Trouble is, all her ideas seem to come with built-in reasons not to pursue them.  How do you make the right career choice, when the more research you do, the more confused you feel?

What’s your career history and current job?

I studied English Literature at university, then fell into an admin role after I graduated.

Since then, I’ve jumped from one admin job to another, working in pensions, and then for a housing association.

For the last 18 months I’ve been working in another admin role, doing research support at a university.

How do you feel about your work?

Working in admin roles has been useful, in that they’ve given me insight into a range of sectors. I like that I’ve got experience of working in different offices, with different people.

In the role I’m doing now, I get on well with my colleagues, and I also enjoy helping others whenever I get the chance.  

But my biggest issue is that I’m not interested in the day-to-day work I’m doing, so it’s hard to keep myself motivated.  

I spend most of my time at work either fire-fighting an email inbox that never seems to reduce, or analysing complicated reports.  

While it suits me to have set deadlines to work towards, I’m burned out from meeting them with repetitive tasks that aren’t personally rewarding.  

I also feel guilty about staying in a job I don’t enjoy, as I feel that’s unfair to the university and the people I work with.

What would you like to be doing instead?

There are lots of different areas that interest me.

I like helping people, and I also want to focus on long-term projects in which I’ve got time to reflect, create, and make meaningful contributions.

I’ve thought about going back to university and studying social policy, then working for a charity, or training to become a coach.

I love history and art, so I’ve also considered working in a museum or an art gallery, or even working with animals, as I wanted to be a vet when I was younger.

What’s the biggest obstacle in your way?

Every time I think I’ve found the right path, I also find a reason that stops me from taking it.

For example, while I love helping people, I’m also an introvert, which means I feel drained from too much social interaction.  I’m unsure about how well I would cope with someone who was upset or angry about a problem I couldn’t resolve, especially as I don’t tend to ‘click’ with new people straight away.

So, I worry that a full-time customer service or coaching role would impact negatively on me, and that I wouldn’t be able to offer people the help they need.  

Meanwhile, going back to university to study social policy feels daunting, when I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy the course.  What if I commit my time and money to it, but then decide I don’t want to be a policy advisor, after all?  

I’ve researched all of my ideas thoroughly, but the more research I do, the more confused I feel.  I don’t know why I’m finding this so difficult, when I don’t mind taking a pay cut, doing extra study, or even starting from the bottom, as I’m willing to do whatever it takes for the right career. 

I’m anxious about not moving forwards with any of my ideas.  But it feels so important for me to get this next step right. I don’t want my CV to be full of bland admin roles and failed experiments.

It feels like my friends and family are all wondering what’s wrong with me – why can’t I just decide on a career, then go for it?

I don’t know whether to just close my eyes and pick a new direction at random, or if my confusion is a sign that none of them are right for me, after all.

How will I know if a career is going to be worth my full commitment?

Can you help Megan?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Megan could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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