“I Don’t Know What I Want To Do. Am I Trapped?”

Anthony has never really known which direction to take. After years in a job that he fell into rather than chose, he’s both desperate and scared to change. How do you move forward when you’ve no idea where to go?

What's your career history and current job?

I work in customer services for the estates and facilities department at the college where I got my degree.

I've been in this role for seven years now.

I'd gone back to college about ten years ago, because I'd been working in the family business and decided I wanted to get some qualifications while I felt young enough to do so.

I did a degree in Psychology and Sociology, got a 1st, but couldn't decide what to do next so ended up going through a series of temping jobs.

I ended up in my current job as a temping role as well. It was meant to be a maternity post but I've been here ever since.

How do you feel about your work?

There's variety in the role – I'm like a receptionist in that I deal with all the different queries and problems that come into the department.

I get to use problem-solving skills and I like advising people, so I do feel valued to a certain extent.

But I never really chose this job, I fell into it.

I can't see myself being here forever because there's no real prospect of career progression.

I guess I feel under-employed. Unfortunately, I've been here so long now that I'm scared to move on.

I feel that no one would be interested in employing me. I'm nearly 40 and my CV clearly shows that I've not moved forward after getting my degree.

What would you like to be doing instead?

Like a lot of people, I've never really known what I want to do.

Even before I went to college, work to me was just something you have to do every day, not anything to do with what you might enjoy.

I don't really have any sense of direction and I don't even know what I'd like to do.

I saw an independent careers advisor. That was a bit of a slap in the face. She looked at my CV and basically pointed out that I've never really moved forward and I should have progressed far more than I have.

The forms I filled out suggested that with a psychology degree I might go into statistics, data or counselling, but those don't appeal to me.

If someone offered me a job that had training and career progression prospects, that would be ideal, because it would take away the risk and offer me some stability.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I've not actually got to the stage of finding a job that appeals to me, never mind applying for anything.

I've got analysis paralysis. I spend a lot of time thinking that I need to do something else but I've never known what do, and I don't know how to decide. Plus, I'm constantly aware that I'm approaching 40 and I still haven't figured out my direction.

I spend more time fiddling with my CV than anything else.

I tend to feel like I can't do things until I'm 100% certain they'll work out, which I know is very, very unlikely to happen.

I've basically sat still in the same position because I'm too scared to jump. I know I'm standing in my own way but I can't work out how to move.

I've seen other people jump into better things and then be put at risk. But I've also seen temporary staffers come and go while I've sat still, which is quite disheartening – every year that passes, I'm still here.

If I could get some help to find a sense of direction, I feel like I'd be more confident and could maybe find a job that I'd know would suit me. Then I might actually be able to move on.

How do I figure out which way to go?

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

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